The distance gets easier to manage. No, I take that back. The distance is something we understand, recognize, and choose to look past. The time zones and phone calls and missing one another are things to which we can adjust and be okay. Like phantom pain or a throbbing wound, the difficulty sets in as normal and we press on, together but apart.
But the goodbyes. The goodbyes never get easier. In fact, I’d argue that they get more challenging. When I say I am the luckiest girl in the world, I am not using hyperbole or melodrama. I mean it. I cannot believe I am the one who gets to be in love with you. And in those goodbye moments, those cruel “now you see me” times that keep getting more brutal and more arduous, I find solace and security and comfort in knowing that the arrival gates are as exciting as the departure gates are miserable. So, without regard to the rest of the world and its schedule, I cry into your chest. I feel your arms pull me in, and I think of nothing but breathing you in and never letting go.
And then we let go.
So there I was: in a pitiful state of denial that a red eye was moments away from taking me away from you, though the security line was pulling me closer to x-ray machines and metal detectors and let’s-get-down-to-business TSA employees. I turn back and see you; warm eyes and a brave face. At least one of us was in the mood to be optimistic. I breathe. I look forward, move up in line, and before I can tell myself not to, I look back again. There you are. Face unwaveringly bright, the curves of your mouth tilted upward just the way you do when you know I can’t. It’s how I know that three time zones don’t really separate us at all. It’s how I can be sure that, whether my eyes are open or closed and whether you’re near or you’re far, I have you. We have each other. I enter the security checkpoint and look back one last time. I hold your gaze, I watch you walk away, and through blurry eyes I grab a stack of bins to cross through security.
The plane flew East and took me with it. As I climbed through and over the San Francisco fog, traveling deeper into the night, I thankfully fell asleep. I awoke as we landed, and assuredly faced the mean reality that it’s time to readjust to being without you, just for a little while. And until we can hold each other, I’ll make friends with the distance. I’ll cling to the feeling of having you close until I’m home in your arms again.