Does Distance Ever Get Easier?

I walk up to the hotel bedroom window, press my forehead against the cool glass. Outside, the Los Angeles skyline glimmers back at me, soft lights reflected from buildings mixed with the morning haze. Above, an airplane takes off across the sky and I imagine my boyfriend somewhere in a window seat, craning his neck just as I am to search for something recognizable—the roof of our hotel, the outdoor Jacuzzi where we sat side by side just hours ago, the hot water creating steam from our cold bodies as we talked about the future like we had all the time in the world.

The plane pushes higher into the sky and I feel the rumble of the engine in my chest as it rises. And then the heaviness as the sound fades and I’m left with the quiet of this room, the thick glass window a barrier between me and the rest of the world.

In a room across the way, I see an older man eating breakfast, scanning the trajectory of that same plane. I wonder if he has someone special on that flight. If he, too, is watching what feels like half his heart disappear into the clouds.

I watch the plane until it disappears. Then I follow the line of traffic on the freeway, absentmindedly drifting back through the last few days, remembering the ease at which my boyfriend’s hand fit around my own, or the way our laughter filled my little car as we drove down the highway in a way that made my whole soul swell with happiness.

A two hour drive awaits me on those same freeways, but without him it feels different.

I glace back at the city again. Right now, the clouds around the skyline are a soft pink and fuzzy—the smog of a place always on the move. I’ve never been a big fan of Los Angeles, and maybe that’s because I never gave it a chance. Maybe that’s because L.A. has always felt far too quick, too fleeting for me to get attached. And here I am, already planning my escape.

Now that the plane is gone, it all feels so foreign, like I’m a stranger in this hotel room. Without the smells and roughness of my boyfriend’s hands I’m just a visitor in this city, in this place.

There is still a glass of champagne on the nightstand. I put it to my lips, taste the sweetness of yesterday still lingering. I will myself not to cry as I pack my belongings, wash my face, move about the room in a trance.

I know distance was never expected to be easy. I know the space between us is not permanent. I know that I’ve just been high on the emotions of being with someone I love and the fullness of having an entire weekend just for us and his son, and this is just the inevitable crash. I know this will all be okay, and one day there won’t be a chasm between us. But right now my body feels exhausted. Right now the highways look so uninviting and cold. Right now, there is a stiff little sofa chair by the window, my notebook on my lap, and the words that pour from me.

Does distance ever get easier? God, I hope so.

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