‘I don’t want to say goodbye’, he said.
‘I know’, I said, ‘but it’s only for now, you’ll feel better later.’
‘But the longer we’re together, the harder it is to say goodbye’, he said.
‘I know’, I said, ‘but it’ll get easier.
‘But I just love having a beard’, he said.
At which point I gave a long sigh of exasperation and told him that it was totally up to him whether or not he decided to shave his beard off.
We have been doing this for five years (the lifestyle, not the beard conversation) and in that time I have learnt that this DIDO/FIFO thing is much easier if you don’t actually have to say goodbye.
I am lucky that due to his 7/7 roster he always leaves on a Wednesday after I’ve gone to work, so I just give him a kiss goodbye as I leave for work at 7am, usually while he’s still asleep and then I come home on a Wednesday evening and he’s not there. I return home and it feels a little too empty, things abandoned where he left them (slightly annoying), but usually with little gestures that make my heart swell (washing up done, dinner in the fridge, a haphazard attempt at last minute tidying) and although he’s gone, I know he’ll be back soon.
I wonder whether missing someone has something to do with being left behind. When we lived in Orange and I used to travel back to Sydney for the week to work, he always used to seem to take it harder too. I would get on a train and end up in Sydney with my friends and work and busy social life and he would be left behind with not much to do.
Similarly now, although he has a long drive ahead of him, he has something to do and somewhere to be, which is enough to keep him busy. As with many situations in this lifestyle, boredom is loneliness’s evil companion and staying busy is often the key to beating it.
So usually we manage not to say goodbye and just carry on our routine as normal, actually quite enjoying the time we have apart to do our own thing.
But this week, not only did Mr Miner go back to work a day early for training, but I decided to work from home to get some projects completed, which brings me back to where I started…
I am working in my office when he comes in to disturb me with ridiculous beard questions! In defence of my flippancy, he has been growing the beard for over a year and I had already suggested that maybe as he is not, a) a hipster, b) a bikie or c) homeless, that maybe it was time to say goodbye to the beard (also he sheds like a cat!).
I stood and watched (read laughed and took pictures) as he shaved it off just before he left to go back to work and as a face emerged that I hadn’t seen for over a year, I was struck by a sudden wave of sadness.
Maybe it was the funny fuzzy face that made me laugh, maybe it was the handsome stubbly face that reminded me of when we first met, or maybe it’s just that I’m not used to doing this anymore, but whichever it was, I suddenly didn’t want to say goodbye.
I did the dutiful girlfriend thing and walked him to the car, kissed him goodbye and waved him off from the front step and when I walked back inside our flat it felt to quiet, too cold and too empty, slightly abandoned and again I felt a little sad. And just as I was thinking how long a week apart could feel I walked back into the bathroom to see the sink covered in beard hair.
Saying goodbye is hard, but there’s always something to remind me he’ll definitely back. And probably sooner than it takes me to stop finding beard hair all over the place!