IN THIS LIFE we talk a lot on the phone about meeting halfway between San Francisco and Baltimore.
IN ANOTHER LIFE we shack up in a hotel room on the Kansas/Nebraska border, spend three entire days with the curtains drawn and the lights off and your mouth on my mouth. We drink and sleep and fuck until we are both sore. I can’t think of anything more important than the taste of you. It almost doesn’t matter that this is Kansas. It almost doesn’t matter that we are holed up in some hotel room like people on the run. It almost doesn’t matter that it is only temporary.
IN THIS LIFE we both have dreams about airports and in mine, I am always running towards you; and in yours, you are always waiting.
IN ANOTHER LIFE we get a big airport scene. I’m fresh off a five-hour flight. You pick me up at the arrivals area. You wear that red, plaid scarf. It feels right, being in your passenger seat. It reminds me of being on the phone with you, all those long calls you’d make from the road. And we are so hesitant to touch each other. I don’t know if I want your hand in my hand or your fingers in my mouth. It is hard to figure out where to start.
IN THIS LIFE you move to London for work. We stay up nights talking about how it can’t end like this, but how the goal of a long distance relationship isn’t adding more distance. You say we owe it to each other to see this through and I book a ticket to LHR. I pack my bag. I sit through a 10-hour flight. You’re not waiting on the other end. You call later, say it’s too hard. You won’t tell me what is too hard.
IN ANOTHER LIFE we sit across from each other in a Costa in London. The one in Euston Station. I don’t know my way around that well and I pick something easy. You have coffee. I have chai tea. We spend a lot of time fiddling awkwardly with our cups. Sugar packets. Napkins. Anything to not talk. It is hard to sit there across from you and not know the way this conversation is going to go. I want to climb across the table and bury my face in your neck. I settle for small talk. How’s the job? How’s the commute? How’s the flat?
IN THIS LIFE when you find out that you’re sick, you wait for a long time to tell me. You wait too long. We waste so much time. We spend too many days apart. I don’t tell you that I love you enough. I tell you a lot, but not enough. You are trying to do the right thing when you cut me out. You are trying to cause me as little pain as possible. You are sparing me long nights spent at the hospital and months of crying and worry. You say it will be easier this way but it is not easier.
IN ANOTHER LIFE you don’t take my choice away from me.
IN THIS LIFE even after we say goodbye, I wait for your call. It never comes. I don’t like to think about what this means.