A Sussex based blogger sharing a candid tale of 20-something humanness

Friday, 27 April 2018

A tale of 29 cities

He walked away with such ease that it was near impossible to believe he was off to catch a flight to the other side of the world. I've always liked his quiet confidence: how he can and will and does, even when it's hard. 

His trip had been planned, booked and saved for long before any longing. I knew this day would come as we spent evening after summer's evening creating our own tiny universe: dancing on the kitchen tiles and putting the world to rights and never knowing quite when to call it a night. I knew this day would come when we laid, excited and terrified, beneath the stars and those words - the string of syllables that changed everything - embroidered the air between us. I knew it when I let him kiss me for the first time too, and when hours seeped into days and nights and I learnt what it was to wake up to the smell of his skin.

I wasn't meant to be at the airport that day, but the problem with trying not to fall in love with someone is that it doesn't stop you falling in love with them. 


'I've made it - I'm in Delhi! I'm knackered, but so glad to be here.' 

The man on the screen didn't look like the man I'd waved off the evening before. The heavy pixelation made his perfect head look square and squashed. I couldn't make out the blue of his eyes or the thick stubble that mapped his jawline or the hint of scattered freckles across the top of his nose. The sound was broken too: talks of our days and reassuring sentiments reduced to lone syllables and curious crackles. 

He was gone, and he was gone.
Months on end of dating, quite literally, half of the man he was, I thought.
This is never going to work.

It's an incredible leap of faith to take less of someone based on the notion of more. When I boarded the plane, we'd been thousands of miles apart for 88 days. There were moments during that period when I had no idea what 'more' was. Evenings I whole heartedly sobbed to Elaine Page, Prosecco in hand, and noticed concerned glances amongst my friends because, well, if drinking and snot-crying to Elaine Page isn't sign that a girl's in trouble, I don't know what is. 

The sad thing about distance, even from the person you love most in the world, is that you forget. You are here and they are there, and no matter how much you give to the challenge, you forget.
There are intricacies, small joys, that are lost. 

Those first three months had been really fucking hard, is the thing. So what if -


It was his idea. We were in the pool as it rained and rained and rained: warm, uncompromising, tropical rain coming down in sheets from the Balinese sky and leaping with wild enthusiasm across the surface of the water. We'd spent the evening drinking whisky and dancing unashamedly: limbs flying in all directions to the kind of cheesy love songs that are rarely played before the third drink. 

I studied his face closely that night, because if the circumstances and the struggle and the muddling through had taught me one thing, it's that his is the face I like looking at the most. 

The elusive thing came back to me: familiarity. The warmth of his breath.
I'd travelled almost 7000 miles to come home.


'You'll still write postcards?' I half-pleaded, glancing down at the second hand of my watch,
willing it to stop.

'Of course.'

I slumped into my seat a sobbing wreck of course, but hopeful too, armed with something to remember during the next forgetting: we made it. There is proof now that it isn't impossible.


I looked at him on-screen sometimes and thought holy shit, I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. You are courageous and determined and adventurous and funny and romantic, still, and how lucky am I and please, come closer to the camera so I can see that the sun has kissed parts of you I couldn't.
You are me and I am you and when you come home we'll build a beautiful life together and
I cannot wait. 

I looked at him on-screen sometimes and thought holy shit, just stay there will you. You're so far removed from me and I don't know you anymore nor what it is to have a life with you. If I see one more photo of you bronzed and wide-smiled and looking so deliriously happy and at peace while I'm here, missing and missing and missing you, I'll smash this phone against the wall and you'll never hear from me again.

We pushed and pulled and tugged and teased, searching to sit comfortably in the chaos.
We never quite made it.


The flowers had already started to wilt a little, but it didn't matter. It had been almost four months since I'd last seen him so every delivery brought with it giddy anticipation.
I excitedly ripped open the card that had been carefully tucked between the stems.
'More roses than days until I am back.'


My heart stopped beating when I heard the knock.

I knew to expect him at about one on the dot, but the sound of him in a place he had been missing from for so long still took me by surprise.

'OMG, HE'S HERE,' I typed furiously into the girls' chat on Whatsapp, before rubbing the clammy palms of my hands down my thighs and making my way to the door.

And there he stood, unruly beard in tow, with a disbelieving smile and open arms.

'I made some guacamole!' I squeaked.


We found the flat in Autumn. We weren't meant to see it that morning, in fact we hadn't seen a single photo of it before the estate agent took us there on a whim.

'You never know,' we said. 'Let's just have a quick look.'

I knew as soon as I walked in that I was home. And this morning, as I warmed my hands on a peppermint tea and watched the early sunlight streaming in, just for us, I knew it all over again.


I think of it now and again. The work we put in. The growing pains and where we are now.
It was hard, near damn fucking impossible at times, and I wouldn't jump up and down to recommend it. But the distance; it taught me that I, we, can love beyond the capacity I once thought.
We could have told each other to sod off in pursuit of something easier. We didn't.
We chose trying, because that's what love is and that's what love is about
and sometimes the trying is the only bit that makes sense.

We'll cook steak tonight and mine will be too well done and his won't be done enough. We'll put on a film and I'll thrust my feet into his lap and maybe I'll play an Elaine Page vinyl for old time's sake and laugh at how a situation can be everything and then nothing at all. Maybe we'll talk more about what we want to do this summer - our third - but in so many ways our first. And then I'll fall asleep with his body wrapped around mine, and it will feel as if it has always been there.

 It's funny, isn't it, how things that are never going to work 


I wasn't meant to be at the airport that day.

1 comment

  1. This was such an amazing read, you're such a beautiful writer. Thank you for being real and showing that it was tough at times but you still managed to get through it together. At the end of the day that's what love is. XxxX


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