Art by Sacha Irick
He’s asleep on my couch after another weekend of visiting. Hours from now, he’ll have to grab a snack from Nature’s Edge for his drive and kiss me goodbye. I’ll continue on with my head held high as always, jumping back into Seaver College’s current of achievement, another wave of time fizzling out as it beats on the shore of my youth.
I was a reasonable woman once, even cynical, as a few people can tell you. I wanted only to power through my education with a smile and, on weekends, a really good beer in my hand (now that I’m 21). I wasn’t searching for anybody, as it sometimes feels so many are. Admittedly, I laughed at them sometimes. But after being abroad, a flash of neon on the streets of Buenos Aires, a gust of wind off a Patagonian mountain, I was back to the heat of Fresno, my home, to pause my education for the summer to earn money to try to help pay my parents back for the experience. I was in a place again devoid of variety, and it jarred me into a state of monotony that I did not expect to be broken.
We met at one of my internships there. I was doing some marketing work for a local venue. He played a show. We started talking, and we fell into this higher meaning to each other. There was tunnel vision for the last three weeks of my being home, so we decided not to waffle and made it serious, even though it was soon to be long distance. We didn’t expect it, but suddenly we couldn’t have anything but life with the other.
This probably meant a denial of my past self, my past self-perceived toughness. I was a hard person to truly reach, and it certainly didn’t come naturally for me to focus so much of my energy on someone four hours away once I was back at Pepperdine. Even when I was abroad, I probably only contacted anyone from home, parents included, three times the entire eight months.
That was sort of the first lesson he taught me: to remember to reach out to the people who care about you. The first few weeks were difficult not seeing him, and I had to make a conscious effort to stop at the end of every other day or so to catch up. But within the distance I also identified an apathy within me to reach out to people who require a pause of life; I saw how much that hurt him at times. I thought about my parents and grandparents much more after I realized that; I thought about how much they loved me, but how they, unlike my boyfriend, had never asked me of my time, to talk or visit. The people who fed me and watched me grow asked less of my time than even this guy completely new to my life.
Brian has shown me that in life sometimes people can’t even understand how loved they are. That’s almost how distance is truly created: When an inability to perceive worth on one side is paired with a stoic bashfulness to communicate it on the other.
That’s sort of why I’m so happy, in a sad way, that Brian and I have to do long-distance for now. That’s why I’m sort of OK with our relationship starting as long-distance. I’ve learned to break the cycle and reach out exactly in my curent state. No waiting. Because of him, I’ve seen how silly it is to get to sit at a table with someone you care about and not tell them in your own voice.
He’s asleep on my couch on this Sunday afternoon because this weekend we did everything. We reconnected with an old friend of mine in her favorite bar in Echo Park, we fought about silly things, we ate too much good food, we kissed in the misty canyon rain, we went to church this morning in a grove of eucalyptus, since that’s a thing in Malibu, and unlike Fresno there are trees here. We got over even more insecurities, and we certainly didn’t wait to tell each other how much we love each other, for we always only have a few more hours.
And this all sort of leads to the second thing he’s taught me: the fleeting nature of life, and how quickly all the beauty could be taken away — how we have to go get it now, while we have each other; how important it is that we get over the silly fights and keep running towards the beauty. It’s teaching us that if and when we get to see each other every day, this mentality of long-distance should never go away. We are so thankful for every moment we have, and that should be like life itself.
Follow Haley on Twitter: @haleylanz