Before we moved to Jakarta, the husband and I hadn’t spent much time together in a year. He started this new job, you see, in June 2012, and wound up travelling for work a lot. When he took the job, he was told to expect 25-50% travel, but he wound up being gone more often than not. From July last year to January this year, he would spend approximately 3-4 weeks away in Mumbai, fly home for maybe 3-6 days, and then the cycle would repeat.
Eventually the husband’s involvement in the Mumbai project ended, but then the Jakarta project needed his attention. By then we’d been talking for a couple of months about the possibility of his accepting an expatriate posting to Jakarta. We also discussed the option of having him commute through the week; essentially he’d spend the weekdays here, staying in a hotel or a serviced apartment, and flying home for the weekend.
I know lots of couples do the long-distance thing, especially if both of them travel for work, and we’re friends with at least one couple who did the weekday commute thing. When we talked to friends and family about moving, several asked why we didn’t do the weekday commute thing. After all, Jakarta is less than two hours’ flight from Singapore. Not moving would have meant that I’d still be in Singapore, still have access to familiar things and faces, have a support network. We wouldn’t have to subject our rabbit and cat to a move, or to quarantine. There were plenty of good, practical, sensible reasons to split up, for him to commute instead of us packing up and moving. When it came right down to it, however, the reasons for not doing so were fairly simple: I didn’t want to.
I was tired of missing him. We’ve been together for twelve years, nearly thirteen years; this November we’ll have been married for five. He’s thirteen years older than I am; statistically this suggests that we’ll have many fewer years together than most couples closer in age will. I was tired of going, “Hello? Hello? Are you there? You’re breaking up…” into the phone or computer every couple of nights, as we attempted to stay in contact. And after a year in which neither of us was employed full-time, I was reminded that I really do like the husband, and I like spending time with him. I don’t want a marriage that exists in the spaces between the other things we do; I want to place my marriage at the centre. I want to crawl into the same bed every night, and to spend lazy Sunday evenings sprawled across the living room, reading, watching TV, maybe playing a game, or hanging out with the furries (see the furries? Wouldn’t you want to spend an evening cuddling them too?), instead of watching him pack for another week away.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever lived anywhere else but Singapore, really. A short stint working at Club Med Phuket when I was young, a couple of months in Sydney while I was working on a project, and a healthy amount of travel are all interesting things to have done, but it’s not the same as committing to living somewhere else. I didn’t want to wait and to wake up one day, be 40, and go, “I should have tried it!” and feel too afraid to expand my horizons. So this, along with the missing, is why we’re here in Jakarta.