I can’t get this thought out of my head since … well, since that realization. It started as a joke. In October, Boris was invited to be an official reviewer for one Finnish Ph.D. candidate. That was the first time he participated in such a ceremony in Finland, and yes, it was more a ceremony than anything else. He has to rent a tuxedo and a white tie, and pretty much the whole wardrobe for this event. The people in the renting place verified that he didn’t need to have white gloves for that occasion, and he said that it was a pity because those gloves felt so nice on the hands, and there would be no more opportunity because he couldn’t imagine any events with dancing. I told him: you missed an opportunity at Anna’s wedding, so now you’ll have to wait till Nadia’s wedding day. And he said: no, I won’t live that long. First, I thought – oh, he’s just saying things, and replied – why not? He said that it would be at least twenty-four more years until she gets married with the current trends. I replied, still without much thinking and still half-jokingly: so what? He said: nobody on my side of the family lived that long. I would be ninety-five by then. And then I realized that he was right! And it struck me because I am sure I will live till Nadia’s wedding day. And although I was preparing myself for the fact that I would be alone for many years of my life, I suddenly realized that it is not an abstraction anymore.
In some sense, it is not bad because now we care more for each other and try not to hurt each other’s feelings. Also, Boris bought a new phone arm/stand, and we had a photo session we didn’t have for thirty-three years at least. Not to share with anybody, but to keep it to ourselves.
And there is one more thing I mentioned before. It happened again last week that I didn’t realize right away that the person approaching me was Boris. We walked together to mom’s place, but Boris didn’t plan to come in, so he walked back home, making a loop to the west. I stayed and mom’s place for a little bit and walked back home. We ended up coming to the gates together, but from different directions, and I didn’t expect to see him outside. It was already getting dark, and I thought to myself – is this older man coming to our building? I unlocked the gate and held it, and then I realized that it was Boris. And same as before, the moment I realize that it’s him feels like a turn of a lens in my eye, and suddenly, it’s not an older man, but a person who is everything for me.
I can’t remember when it was the last time Boris and I spent Valentine’s Day together. And it was even longer since we had such a beautiful Valentine’s Day.
Many years ago, back in Russia, when Valentine’s Day was one of many things from the West which we didn’t have, it felt very special to say “be my Valentine” and go for a long walk in the park, and then for coffee and cakes celebrating something very intimate.
Later, when we were already in the US, it was shocking to see the commercialized version of this holiday. We still tried to celebrate for a couple of years, and I was picking up the cards, but then Boris could not stand all this pink and red, and we started to keep it low.
This year, it felt unbelievably good, even though I could not take any time off work, and Boris had to leave to the airport earlier because I had to take mom to the doctor (and Igor had an assignment).
We started on Sunday night – I made a steak dinner and tiramisu, and we had s long conversation about one professional project we are trying to do together (moving slowly because of lack of time). Having how busy I was with work for this whole week, it was a real treat to talk about something professional which is not work. But then, most people do not understand how talking on professional topics can be so loving and intimate. I am not even trying to explain “why,” let’s say it’s our feature. On the day itself, we had heart-shaped cheese for breakfast:
And then we had an afternoon tea – I ordered it from Vanille the moment I knew that Boris was coming (which was almost the last day I could order!) We substituted tea with coffee, and I made prep and assembly.
I’ve been very good this year about sleeping my six hours and going to bed by 10-30, no matter what:). It was not the case only when I had too much work. And yes, today is one of these days.
In EDB, almost all I am doing is new to me. I could never imagine there were so many things I didn’t know about Postgres :). To be fair, I just never needed to know them! So what happens often is that although I am full-time on a project, I spend half of the time learning things I need to know to complete this assignment, and then half of my work hours are non-billable.
I know it will be better, but at the moment, I am still new to EDB 🙂
I mentioned the visa thing… Boris decided he wanted to use the last opportunity to enter the US on the visa, which is about to expire, and so he came yesterday. It was a very sudden decision. I didn’t mind; actually, I felt very loved when he said he was coming :). It’s just for a few days, and we both have work, but it still feels incredibly good.
Two reasons Boris could not come here for Thanksgiving were two Ph.D. defenses. One was in Saint Petersburg, and it’s already done, and the other one will be in Finland (not in Helsinki, but I forgot what’s the name of the city close by).
Today, he called me at 5 AM my time to show off in a tuxedo which they lent to him for the event. I do not think he ever wore a tuxedo in his life :).
Here is what the plan was. After almost two years of living in crisis (due to various reasons), Boris and I agreed to try to return to normalcy, and as a part of it, to try to live a week without any special events, just doing our usual things.
Boris’s school usually has a midterm week at the end of October, so there are no classes. Also, there are no actual midterms for the courses he teaches, so he didn’t need to be online. That being said, we planned for him to come on Saturday the 23rd (he has classes on Friday) and leave next Sunday.
When I talked to him on Sunday, he said: you know, there is one complication… It turned out that he never checked his schedule, and the actual midterm week was not the last week of October but one before last! There was already too late to exchange the tickets (and in any case, the airlines stopped doing the unlimited exchanges), so now he will have to teach at night!!! Or rather in the wee hours of the morning, both Thursday and Friday, and another long meeting on Wednesday. So much for careful planning!
Today, Chicago and the state of Illinois lifted most remaining COVID-19 mitigation-related masking and social distancing requirements and capacity limits. It isn’t quite the end of an era, but it is a step forward.
But when I wrote a decent chunk of this post (on June 7), many of those limits were still in place, and Chicagoland region was caught in an interesting half-way state that had as much to do with people’s attitudes as anything that was formally required.
I’ve been Chicagoland specifically because the United States, for better or for worse, continues to be a patchwork of restrictions, regulations and approaches. For the past 12 months, I’ve been able to sit down in coffee shops in Kenosha (Wisconsin) and Michigan City (Indiana), but not in Chicago and most suburbs. Masking has also varied – as I mentioned before, Kenoshans really didn’t mask much until the fall 2020 surge in cases.
In the past two months, we saw two major developments.
In late April, CDC issued a recommendation stating that people don’t have to wear masks outdoors – though it still recommended that unvaccinated people wear masks in crowded outdoor settings. Then, on May 13, it recommended allowing vaccinated people to go maskless indoors, except in public transit, government buildings, hospitals and some other congregate settings. Illinois and Chicago specifically adjusted their respective regulations accordingly – which meant, in practice, that businesses and public institutions such as libraries could continue requiring everybody to wear masks, if they so chose.
I am on my way back to Chicago. It was a strange trip, for sure. After being on that overbooked UA flight, I regretted my decision to go and thought that Boris is right that we should not make too many moves during a pandemic.
In Helsinki, the situation was not the same as when I was there in October. They have way more cases than previously. Although it’s still way less than in Illinois, and the number of deaths, hospitalized patients, and patients in ICU is microscopic compared to our number, more restrictions are still instilled.
That meant that we didn’t go to any concerts, and in general did less outside home. Although this time we were biking together again.
Another factor that influenced how I felt was my panic about the speed with which our book is going and that we are behind all possible deadlines. And finally, the fact that I needed to record my presentation for the conference!
At some point, I asked Boris whether he thought it was the right idea for me to travel. He said that he hoped that I was able to relax. And the surprising thing is that it was true!
When I decided to go, I joked that it was the most expensive way to avoid holiday cooking and cleaning. But the fact is that for the whole week, I didn’t cook a single meal, didn’t wash a single plate, and didn’t do laundry. And I did only fun shopping if anything.
Although Boris had to teach a class this week and had some work meetings and some work in general, he allowed me to concentrate on writing 100%. And I am really thankful for that! Also, I completely forgot that I wanted to print our logo on a t-shirt. And that Boris also wanted a t-shirt with this logo, and even bought a white t-shirt for that. We did it on Sunday – and that’s what I just posted:) (I wrote it yesterday but forgot to publish)
Last week, before I left to Helsinki, I stopped at my neighbor to let her know I am leaving and just to chat. At that moment, I thought that I had to be on strict quarantine all the time, so that’s what I told her when she asked me what we are going to do in Helsinki.
She said: well, you can just relax at home, and go for a walk. And then she added: and you will be cooking for him, right?
I replied: no. In Helsinki, I am not even allowed in the kitchen. When Boris is here, I cook and clean and everything, and when I am over there, he does everything.
I can’t even describe an expression on my neighbor’s face. I think she never thought that could be even possible. She was trying to imagine how it can be and then saidL yea… I guess…
I think that it was the first time in all these years she knows us she thought that it may be something in this whole remote idea 🙂