Find the solution to all of your problems in a pair of tickets to Spain or Italy or Antigua. Promise yourselves that a new time zone and a new language will repair the irreparable. Board the plane.
Maybe you’ve been through this before; maybe you earn another crack in your heart each time someone utters “Angkor” or “Reykjavik.” But maybe it’s your first time—maybe it’s the last “first” you have to give away, the one where you dive head first into another culture and hope, pray he’ll be there to help you stay afloat. Otherwise, you may drown.
Grip the armrest as you ascend, choke on canned air. Order the wine that’ll wash down the pill that’ll keep you sedated for the next five, ten, fifteen hours. Watch an in-flight movie about a troubled couple and bite your lip in anticipation of a happy ending. Fall asleep before it comes.
Touch ground and hail a cab with a broken tongue. Feel far away from everything except for him and your problems, these two are inexorably linked, a package deal. Place a cold hand on your stomach as the taxi dips and dives down foreign roads.
Throw your bags on the floor of a midpriced hotel and collapse onto clean white sheets. Make plans and map them. Circle destinations in blue ink. Kiss to punctuate each decision and feel for the first time in a long time that you are in the right place at the right time.
Take walks and touch everything. The city is not yours; but perhaps you can borrow it, steal little bits of its resolve. Stand at a crosswalk as a rainstorm breaks and accept the puddles a passing bus splashes you with, washing both of you clean. Look at each other and smile and relish in the fact that you’re both new again.
Gorge on inexplicably cheap wine and do things you don’t do in America like touch each other in public and look at flowers like they mean something. Shop for memories and examine each other’s purchases like you’ll find some hidden meaning in them. Take photographs that no one will ever see; not even you, not even him. Make friends with some locals who don’t speak English, but that’s all right, you two have your own language and you both speak it fluently.
Grow tired of each other one time and go at your exploration in silence until one of you is too weary to keep it up. Find each other’s hands without looking down and keep walking. Walk until you get lost and inexplicably find your way back, as if you both knew where to go the entire time.
Spend your last night sober and in another part of town, spend your last coins on gambling and pizza and things that remind you of home. Walk in a circle and find yourself on the street you’d peeled yourselves off of the night before, after thrashing in a club, after watching a futbol game at a sports bar, after downing exotic shots with your foreign friends. Inhale the energy with a clear mind and a warm heart and understand you may not ever be ready to leave.
Get ready to leave. Observe the way he wraps delicate souvenirs in his dirty laundry and scold yourself for the things you do not know. Scan the hotel room one last time to make sure there’s nothing you’ve left behind. You know that there is, but it can’t be seen or packed or taken with you.
Watch the in-flight movies; watch him sleep. You are the kind of tired sleep doesn’t know how to fix. As the plane descends through a thick of clouds, prepare yourself for a turbulent ending.