Playing the Solo Waiting Game

By Hannah Black

The past week I’ve hardly seen my husband, Ongky. Ceremonies, his work and my newly rediscovered social life (since I finished work) have kept us away from each other for whole days at a time.

A wedding next door had him up and out at 6am one morning and 3am the next. I’ve become adept at sleeping through all this early morning/middle-of-the-night waking, so I just wake up in the morning and he’s not there.

By this point I’m used to not seeing him all the time, but it has got to the point where I’ve been surprised a couple of times to wake up and find him in the bed next to me.

We’ve had a number of those half-asleep conversations that I don’t remember or think I’ve dreamt in the morning and I grasp the fact that some of them may have been important by the look on his face when I’m clearly blank on the subject.

We did have a little catch-up last night and had a chat about what we’re going to do if he doesn’t get his visa for the UK soon (seven weeks and counting). We’ve already rented out our house for the year, sold our car and booked tickets for Lola and me to leave in just under three weeks – so right now it seems
we may be seeing even less of each other in the near future.

Chatting to my sister-in-law Kadek I can see she is thankful her marriage is so simple. She got married to Ongky’s oldest brother, Wayan, when she was 23 years old and pregnant, moved 30 seconds down the road into a compound she knew well, and has pretty much been a housewife ever since.

They do have troubles sometimes, I know, mostly money-related, but I have never seen them niggle at each other, discuss things through gritted teeth or cry about anything – not that Ongky and I do a lot of this, but it does happen.

On the other hand they rarely show affection either, which is something I definitely wouldn’t be happy without. I’ll take a bit of stress with a lot of affection, thank you.

On the bright side of the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen more of my daughter Lola than ever. Not going to work at 6.30am means I can wake up with her (she sneaks into our bed in the morning), make her breakfast and give her a bath, all the things I missed doing when I had to leave before she woke up.

We’ve been spending loads of time going out on errands together and spending time with friends, although I’m trying not to take her out too much because I know how much all the family here want to spend time with her before we go.

Kadek said to me the other day that she would feel the compound would be “kurang” (less or missing something) when Lola isn’t around. She’s been looking after Lola every weekday for the past year and she is really going to feel it when we leave.

Lola and I have been talking a lot about going to the UK and organising together what we need to take. We bought her a little backpack a few days ago and we’ll be packing it full of lots of fun things to do on the plane.

I remember long plane trips from the US to the UK when I was a kid and know that endless entertainment is key. If I’m going to be taking her on my own we’ll have to have a good 18 hours’ worth of colouring, travel games, books and toys because I’m not the best flyer at the best of times, but with a stressed out
and bored two-year-old I may just lock myself in the toilet and only emerge in Manchester.

All this practice at separation may just be good for us. But I still have hope that Ongky’s visa will come through in time for us to travel as a family.

Filed under: My Compound Life

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