Unpacking Baggage

Santa Barbara, California, 2/03

I am home. I say this with some disbelief both because the wonders of air travel still amaze (tire, annoy, & frustrate) me and because I can't actually believe it's over. I am happy to be home because I missed E very much. More than I thought I would. Actually more than I thought I could. I am still in disbelief that after eight years with this man my stomach can still ache when I away from him with what can only be described as homesickness. You know that feeling? That feeling deep down in your gut? The one that makes you anxious, like you've lost something you can't find, or that you've hurt somebody close to you and you're not sure how to make it right. Well, I experienced that feeling many times over the last five days and it can all be attributed to the fact that I wholeheartedly, from the depths of my soul missed my partner. I was one shoe without the other.
There was a time, years ago that I used to get this feeling a lot. In fact, there was awhile there that Evan and I were plagued by this emotion for the majority of our relationship. Many people do not know this but Evan and I spent four very hard years enduring a long distance relationship. Our map went something like this: Texas--Vermont, Portland--Vermont, Honduras--Portland, Los Angeles--Portland. We used to dream of the day that we actually could say that we had spent more time physically in the same place in a relationship than apart.

I can recall one particular moment when we had to say goodbye to one another in the Boston Airport. We met in Boston during our collegiate "Thanksgiving Break" figuring it was a good meeting place for a person coming in from Texas and a person coming in from Vermont. We spent the four days in pure bliss, ordering Turkey Sandwiches on Thanksgiving from hotel room service, bundling up in layers and taking walks in the neighboring park, going to see movies in the mall and hunting down our favorite drink at the time (Starbuck's Orange Mocha Chip Frappuccinos---HEY, everybody has some skeletons in their closet). For the most part we were a regular couple luxuriating in the ability to do regular couple things. The very fact that we could hold each others' hand was a blessing. But then our four days were up and we had to say goodbye. It was time to return to our respective colleges and wait for the next month and a half to pass until we could see each other again.

I can remember sitting on Evan's lap at the gate. (Yes, this was back in the day when you got to accompany your lover to the gate to say goodbye. When you could hold them and reassure them in a semi-private moment that you will call them as soon as you land. Instead of having to pitifully leave them outside of a security checkpoint, inevitably forcing them to make a long and lonely walk to wait for their boarding time alone, cheeks tear-stained and stomach queasy.)

I was nineteen and he was twenty. He used to wear glasses back then. It is amazing how much it can hurt to be away from your partner. And to have to do so repeatedly was pure torture. I was so emotional I clutched on to his sweater and sobbed. Looking back I'm sure we looked fairly dramatic and perhaps a bit ridiculous. I didn't even blink when I noticed the large pool of snot on collecting in the weaves and divots of the cable-knit he was wearing. He was literally kissing my tears trying to calm me down but I noticed behind his frames that his own eyes were beginning to well. This was a very public display of sadness. We felt very absorbed in a seemingly isolated world. Surely no one could possibly imagine that kind of pain, that kind of desperation we were feeling at that moment.

And then I noticed them. A middle-aged couple sitting near us in the terminal who happened to be facing the same plight. She was as hysterical as I was, clinging to her beloved. Shaking her head, surely assessing the sadness she felt being forced to say goodbye. He was trying to brush the hair out of her face and hold her with confidence. I turned to Evan at the moment and said, "Promise when we are they're age, when we are out of school, and able to be in the same city, and live under the same roof that we won't have to do this anymore." And he promised.

PDX, Now until Forever
That was 7 years ago... and once again I've found my way back to my other half. The pair of shoes have reunited.


Anonymous said...

Those shoes...so ...well...perfect. As comfortable a fit as they come. You coulda had bigger ones, or smaller ones, or wide-er ones, some other color or 'flavor'...but these shoes...they just seem to fit perfectly, don't they?

Nice Post.

- MetoliusMark

AnnMarie said...

welling up, big time.

Anonymous said...

Damn it! You just made me cry!

Those are some perfect fittin shoes ya got there:)

Toby Teacher said...

I'm welling up. A solitary tear just rolled down my face. Beautifully written. When we met those years ago on the Island of Moorea you could see how close you guys were straight away....
MUCH love to you both.... I promise I will make it to your cafe one day. My tipple is a Latte, couple of brown sugars and a nice Cinnamon and raisin bagel on the side! Lots of melted butter.....
Again, beautiful post - Makes me want to find that special one! Not just yet though, many countries to see, many dreams to live out with the ultimate dream being not dis-similar to yours....
See you one day!!

@JeanAnnVK said...

I just love you guys...I feel the same way about Tracy...although if I tried to sit in her lap...well, I think you know what would happen...:)

I keep sending you positive thoughts for your upcoming wedding!