The last month wasn’t especially remarkable until one week ago, and now life has changed. The holiday lived up to all hopes – we swam and ate and were massaged into bliss, aided by Rich having managed to sort out more pay and a day off a week from his work. He began to relax and enjoy himself again after the stress, our cabin top got nearly finished (it is beautiful with its varnished sides and off-white top), the fire got cranked up and winter got serious.
Then last week he had to take a couple of days off work with horrific back pain followed by a cold, which I adopted and made my own at the weekend. It started, much like his, with a sore throat and stuffy head, but my version then boasted zombie-like mind deadening, outrageous headaches and an elevated capacity for crying which was set off by anything from uplifting facebook statuses to the bit when Julia Stiles smiles at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum. I languished on the sofa, sweating and failing to get anything done through a haze of pain, while Rich went back to work. With us, I get the manflu.
At lunchtime on Monday he called and told me his boss couldn’t afford him any more. He’s be okay, he could do some other work for a mate until he found something else. On Monday night another friend of his called and asked him if he wanted some work offshore, an arrangement they’d discussed as potentially happening in Spring, moved forward. The timing was all too good. Rich said yes. I, of course, cried.
And now, a week later, my cold has finally passed and he is gone. Off to a week’s training which will be followed by three weeks on, three weeks off. Three weeks on Gwen, three weeks on some supply ship in the violent North Sea, fitting out jostling cabins as it makes its journeys. Three weeks of twelve hour workdays, three weeks of all the time and a lot of the money needed to get Gwen ready, in a cycle that will turn until the contracts run out.
And, apart from a brief return next weekend, I will now be alone here on Gwen until Christmas. It’s unlikely that I’ll even be able to contact him when he’s out at sea. Alone in a leaky half-fitted boat with no walls, emptying my own wee bucket, keeping myself warm, waking myself up in the mornings, back to singledom for half my time in a new floating environment. And just when I get used to it, he’ll be back, armed with a surplus of spare time, and I’ll have to get used to that too. It’s an odd prospect. It’s been less than a day and it already feels strange.
It’s not him not being here. He’s not been here before and I really like my own space and time. It’s that I know how long it will be for that makes me miss him so much already. And that wonderful time I want to do my own thing – it’s been thrust upon me suddenly and my tiny mind struggles to equate it with actually getting up and doing something with it. I suppose a routine will build and I’ll love some of it and hate some of it and adapt. Rich has been wonderful and made sure I have enough wood and coal and paraffin and butane and words of love to last me through. I know what to do with it all. It’ll be fine.
The Dr Who 50th anniversary special was on this weekend and I got thinking about how the Doctor talks to his TARDIS. Rich and I talk to Gwen, mostly to admonish each other “don’t listen to him/her Gwen” when we’re moaning about some fresh leak or job that’s got bigger than it looked, or when we’re scheming for adventure and tell her where she’s going to go. But now it’s just me and her, the girls left alone by the boy who brought us together, I feel more affectionately tied to her than ever. There are things that I can prepare and organise, even if I can’t do the big jobs on my own, and maybe I’ll get on to that as well as the Christmas cards, the work I need to get done, the Christmas presents, some painting, some drinking, some music. But for now I’m just sat here staring at her, noticing the dirt and the holes and the mess like never before and trying not to think about the hugs and glances and sleepy bullshit yabbering I’m going to miss out on for the next few weeks, and wondering where, and how, to start.