Miner's Girl Sarah Long: down days and risotto

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Hi! I'm Sarah Long. I arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met my Mr Miner soon after. We're based in Sydney and he does drive-in, drive-out (or DIDO) to Orange in country NSW. I came out here as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

A few weeks ago I was standing over the stove, dressed in my pyjamas, stirring a pot of risotto ... and trying not to cry too loudly.

My boyfriend and I had moved into our new flat four days earlier. I was physically and mentally exhausted from the packing, the 300km drive across state, and then the unpacking - not to mention trying to work in between.

And when your partner works in mining, it tends to make even the simplest things doubly difficult. So of course the week we had to move, Mr Miner's roster didn't fall so his shifts were at the weekend. He was working all weekend, I was working all week and somehow we'd managed to find a flat, pack all of our belongings and move within three weeks.
Moving is apparently one of the most stressful things you can do (alongside getting married, divorced or starting a new job). But that's not why I was crying. I was sobbing into the risotto because my Mr Miner was leaving for 12 days and I would be alone. (I take my hat off to those of you out there doing FIFO/DIDO with kids - I can barely run my own life! But I do always think that you must not get quite so lonely, at least there's always another person to distract you in one way or another.)
Anyway, the more I thought about being alone, the more the tears welled in my eyes. And then I couldn't help but think about the 12 days stretching our endlessly beyond me ... 12 nights of coming home to nobody ... a whole weekend of being the spare wheel with my friends or watching movies alone ... a whole 12 days of the packing boxes staring at me ... and a whole 12 days of those phone calls where the signal drops out, you've got nothing to say to each other but you stay on the phone and get angry at each other anyway.
About then, Mr Miner walked in to see whether his risotto was going to be ready to take to work - and there I was, all red eyed and crazy looking. Then he did the worst thing that he could possibly have done - he asked me what was wrong.

Now, I don't know about you, but when this happens there's no way I can speak because then I'll never stop the tears. So I stood there, stirring the risotto, dressed in my pyjamas, blotchy faced, crazy hair ... and mute. He asked again and the sobs turned to full wails.
I know this is very common for many of us and I know how similar the pattern is, just from reading the chat forums here. Those first couple of days are always the hardest - even the thought of cooking dinner alone sends me flying to the comfort of the sofa and take-away pizza. But gradually you get a grip, you make plans and the loneliness starts to fade. (Don't get me wrong, I still double and triple-check that the door is bolted before bed and I still sleep with the teddy Mr Miner bought to keep me company, but it's just a bit more like normal life.)

And then all of a sudden halfway comes, and it dawns on you that you've managed to cope. You cooked dinner ... you went to work everyday ... you bought a stool so that you could change the lightbulb that went out the minute he left you all on your own ... and you survived! All of the things that seemed monumental and potentially disastrous before he left are not quite so scary. But you can't get too excited - because halfway also means that you've got the other half to go. So halfway can be hit or miss - a slightly bittersweet achievement that makes you want to hide under the duvet and get a grip again.

Weirdly, the second half of his absence seems to fly. Without warning you're on the home straight and worried for a completely different reason - you have so much to do! You don't have time to vacuum like you were planning for the last 10 days ... or lose a kilo ... or meet your girlfriends for drinks.

In fact, even more suddenly it's the day he's due home and you barely have time to shave your legs, paint your toenails and put on your laciest lingerie to look perfect just for him.

And this, my friends, is the point where you find yourself grinning in front of the mirror. This is the point when you have to laugh at the irony of it all. Because now you're all worried about your appearance and you've completely forgotten that the last time he saw you, you were in your pyjamas, hair greasy, leftover-mascrara running down your face, crying into a risotto!

We all have down days - there's no avoiding them in this world! But sometimes those down days will provide a little giggle next time you're feeling sad.


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