"It's not going to be long. I'll be back before you know it." He said as he glanced up, before quickly stuffing a handful of socks into a side pocket. It was his first trip away since we'd moved into the new flat in September.
L's new job in London, unlike my job in London, is most definitely his 'career' job. He's lucky enough to jet across the world once a month and call it work, (though I would call it pleasure, not business, to have your passport stamped in pretty colours....) I didn't really like the travelling side of his job for purely selfish reasons. For instance, when L was away, I would have to make sure:
1) I remembered to lock the front door at night (usually L's job).
2) Be back by 6pm to let the cat out - definitely no after work drinks allowed - as no cat-sitter.
3) I definitely remembered to turn the heating off before I leave the flat - as not made of money.
4) I did the washing up. As there was nobody to wash up the dirty dishes after I have cooked the dinner.
And of course, I would miss him.
But for one week a month - or two - I would have to be the responsible one.
It was only five minutes later and the taxi had already pulled up, I got a quick kiss, then the door slammed shut and L was on his way to Barcelona. The flat was suddenly uncharacteristically quiet. I could hear the click, click, whuuurrrr of the boiler as it jumped into action. The cat stretched herself, clawing her scratch post and mewing in satisfaction. I felt lost for a brief moment. But as I dragged the duvet over to the couch, made myself another cup of tea, then flicked through the TV channels at a rate of knots, I thought that having the flat to myself for a week, might not be half bad...
I thought about all the things that I love to do, which usually annoy L - and then I did them.
1) I slept like a star in our large double bed - pointing my toes and flailing my arms in my sleep.
2) I cooked vegetable Quinoa on Tuesday (and nobody moaned about eating seeds).
3) I got to use the whole of the heated towel rail, a luxury compared to squishing my towel up into the grooves half way down, ensuring damp for the next morning.
4) I was on the edge of my seat throughout the Corrie special, and there was no complaining about watching Question Time instead.
5) I left my make-up thrown all over the bathroom, my hairdryer plugged in, and my clothes on the bedroom floor, slobbishly.
Today is Thursday. It's been six days and the quiet in my home has gotten too loud. The cat is starting to go a bit loopy. Last night she stole some of my water, but got her head stuck in the glass. I laughed so much (obviously after saving her) until I realised I was laughing out loud to myself, and then thought that I probably looked a little nuts too. It must be because she's missing L. I don't play with her catnip-string-toy quite as excitingly as L does; he wiggles the string up the wall, over the bed and across the couch making her jump at shadows. She really loves that.
L phoned me last night from Barcelona. There was a three second silence when I answered the phone as the two lines found the connection despite thousands of miles between them. His voice came through intermittently. But it was definitely his voice, and I felt a wave of relief run through me. Then the line cleared:
"I've missed you." He said.
"It's been a little bit quiet here" I whispered. "It doesn't feel quite right."
"It's because we are like one person, really." Was his response.
You big cheese ball. I love you.
I have never liked the phrase 'my other half' when referring to a partner; to me, it conjured up individual inadequacy. But, I understood what L meant.
Our home only felt like a home with L in it, without him, it was just a flat with all our things in. It is so true - home is where the heart is.