It’s been 2 weeks since Maria left me. This is what a broken heart feels like. You wake up in the morning, reach for your phone, and realise that that special person who has been by your side every step of the way for the last 9 months is gone. Not there anymore. I’d almost compare it to a break up, where you are so used to waking up next to someone each morning, and it takes you a few moments when you wake up to realise they’re not there anymore, and they’re not coming back. Except for the fact that instead of sleeping in someone elses bed, they’re in another continent. And unlike a relationship gone bad, you can still talk to them, albeit the funky timezone change that sometimes makes it hard to connect.
I won’t lie and say that when I first met Maria I didn’t think she was weird. Because I did. And I still do. And I think that’s one of the things that helped us get along so well. I met Maria at the local playground. I was there with my kids, she was there with her kids, and we got chatting, only to find out that we were both in the same LCC group. Maria and her host family had moved to Lexington from Cambridge a few weeks before, and she didn’t know anyone. I’d only been in the US a few weeks, and didn’t know that many people either. I didn’t realise at the time what an important person she would become in my life, but a few days later, we went to my first American movie together. A few weeks later, one of her kids fell from a structure at the playground, and I helped her herd the kids home to her house a few houses down from the playground, and explain to her host mom what had happened, because Maria was in a little bit of shock. And from there, if it wasn’t already, our friendship was pretty much cemented.
Maria has a strange sense of humor. I wouldn’t say that we have the same sense of humor (because she never really laughed when I made fun of her when she wore a dress over jeans, or a skirt to a theme park, sorry Maria) but I think the fact that we both have strange senses of humor allowed us to have a connection, where we had a lot of inside jokes, and one of us could just say a word of two, and the other would crack up.
We shared a lot of American obsessions, which usually faded to be quicky replaced by another. The first was the Ninety Nine restaurant. At one point we were going 3 times a week, until we realised the food was making us fat. Our gym obsession was never really an obsession. I think Maria went about 3 times while she had her membership – once to sign up, once to cancel, and once to put use to that hideous Hello Kitty shirt that she owned (since I don’t know what else you’d do with it…)! My track record is a little better, but not great either (more on that later).
We replaced the Ninety Nine with the slightly more expensive Cheesecake Factory, where we would go and eat Lemon Herb Roast Chicken. When we were poor we’d share a serving (which was more than enough for the 2 of us) but sometimes when we thought we were super hungry, or just plain greedy, we’d order one each. And one time Maria managed to eat the whole damn thing. To this day I still don’t know where she put it.
We probably should have bought stocks in Aeropostale, since after Christina and I introduced it to her shortly after my arrival, between us we probably owned more Aero clothes than any other au pair that has come to the US, but that didn’t stop us going back to the mall week after week to see what they had gotten in new. Finally, we became addicted to Frozen Yogurt, and would frequently forgo dinner at ‘Cheesecake’ as it was affectionately known, to go for a cup of yogurty goodness. Sometimes we’d even drive half an hour to Wellesley to have a froyo of the best kind – ‘Pinkberry’. Omm nom, as Maria would say.
Maria was always up for an adventure. The first time I went to Six Flags, she was there (albeit in the First Aid room most of the time) and she came on the group trip to NYC (where she threw a weird tantrum in a restaurant, but we laughed and kept loving her). We took a second trip to NYC, just the two of us, and had the time of our lives (and also had to share a very small bed). I introduced her to the goodness that is musical theatre in the form of Wicked and Newsies. She came with me to meet Jodi Picoult. She came to an NBA game, even though she has no interest in basketball, and laughed at me when we had to walk a mile back to the car in the snow, and I wanted to stop to take pictures and play in it.
But mostly, she was a good friend. She was always there to laugh and to cry with. She was always there to listen to me and my drama. To share stories with. To borrow money from. To make jokes with. To talk about our kids with; we understood each other.
And now she’s gone. And I still wake up in the morning and think that I should text her and organise to go out for dinner or froyo tonight. And then I realise that she’s gone, she’s back in Sweden, back with her boyfriend, back working in a ‘normal’ job, speaking her ‘normal’ language.
Maria, you are probably one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met, but I love you, and I miss you like crazy.