‘My own private Idaho.’





Mother’s Day came with mixed emotions. Breakfast in bed followed by lunch with friends and then delivering my husband to the airport.

He has left for Japan and we won’t be with him again until January. You see, my husband has had to travel ahead of us and undertake a very long training course in Tokyo.


Big ploppy tears prevented me from saying a proper farewell. It was more of a wave and a sniff, as I shushed the kids back into the car before heading off to Mr 17s boarding school.

Appropriately it was raining and cold and as my L Plater son hopped into the driver’s seat and inquired about my mental wellbeing. I was touched by his concern but a bit embarrassed. “Drive on L-Plater,” I quipped. “And watch out for that taxi.”

On Monday I took the little ones to the dentist. We came home with some soap and a new tele. “Is that all it takes to replace me?” my husband asked from his hotel room in Tokyo. ”Mmm. Yup,” we all replied together.

By Tuesday however, I was walking around the house trying to bring it alive again. We three couldn’t hope to fill the big boots that had just departed. The slow realization that he wasn’t coming back began on that morning.

As I moved through the house, initial feelings of abandonment were nudged by a tiny compensatory sense of liberation.

The home office was mine. All mine. All I had to do next was to pack up his mess.


A tiny voice in my mind sang, “It’s mine, all mine.”

I moved the pile of books and paper to the floor, where they sat for three weeks. I wiped the desk clean, moved the packing boxes to the wall and set up my own private Idaho.

A neat pile of uni assignments, commissioned writing notes and two book drafts occupied the far left corner. In the other corner was a double candle on a Jarrah cheeseboard. Both rectangular, they looked very Japanese. A couple of pieces of antique silver, a couple of personalised cards and a marble coffee cup coaster and I was in business. Finally I set the laptop squarely in the middle of it all and pulled the chair in. I lit the candles and began to write.

It’s not very often that you get nine months off from your marriage. I could still hear his voice. “What are you burning that candle in here for? What’s it sitting on? Kath, it’s a cheese board for goodness sake. Get that crap off my desk!”

But he wasn’t here to see and I haven’t told him. Because when he calls on Skype from the kitchen, he can’t see what’s through the lounge and around the corner in the home office and it’s killing him. He has threatened to get the eight year-old to download Skype on the laptop and sneak into the office for a visual.

That will never happen. I’ve lent the office out to a journalist friend seeking a different perspective on “working from home.” We share homes. We share desks.

My own private Idaho and for now it’s mine, all mine.

Kathy is a freelance writer and photographer who is studying editing this year. You can find her website here, her Facebook here and her Twitter here.

Does your partner travel or live overseas? Have you ever had a long-distance relationship? How do you change your life style when your partner is away?


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