The Separation

I thought I’d have the most to say about our initial meeting in the airport.  It was going to be very romantic, like in the movies, and we’d connect right away, feeling immediately that we were lost souls finally found.  I would cry, breaking the two year drought… and er… everything would be smooth sailing from there.

Well, it didn’t really go like that.  On a number of levels.  For one, our initial meeting was awkward.  At least for me it was, Pickle Man said he didn’t notice as much, but I was quite uncomfortable.   Seeing as most people don’t spend hours and hours on Gmail and Skype growing fond of someone on the other side of the world, and then travel there to meet them, let me explain why it’s awkward…  Simply put, a whole relationship is developed within the confines of the internet and then to suddenly be in person, it upsets the balance.  The former environment where you got to know someone is turned upside-down and you are faced with what feels like a stranger in real life.  But they aren’t supposed to feel like a stranger, even though they are.  It just a weird dynamic.

Anyway, that passed fairly quickly.  We had business to attend to… money to exchange, transportation to arrange, etc, and as we were doing all that we got caught up to speed on what had transpired since we’d last talked.  That melted the ice pretty well, the rest of the melting was a longer process that took several days as we got accustomed to each other in real life.

So the basic feel of the first few days was that there was some measuring and weighing of the other person, all the while having a nice time together as we traversed about a foreign (to me) city.

Fast forward…

Now let me tell of our parting.  This is the sad part of the story.   Let me start on the bus at 5:00 in the morning on the way to the airport.  We’re sitting on the upper level toward the back, it’s chilly, and since Pickle Man is in shorts, he’s cold.  My bags are in the seat across the aisle from us, so I offer for him to grab a shirt to cover his legs.  He does.

When the bus stops at the airport, we get off and walk inside.  Somewhere between the bus and the place where I need to check in, the T-shirt, which Pickle Man still has, crosses my mind and I ask if he wants to keep it as collateral.  He does.

He helps me find where I need to get my boarding passes, but an Asian lady intercepts us, stealing away my passport to another place behind a counter.  When she comes back she explains something I have now forgotten.  Eventually, I get done what I need and now only have about an hour and fifteen minutes left before my plane departs.  I still have to go through security and all that stuff.

To say goodbye, Pickle Man walks us over to the side of the building.  It’s not private.  The wall is glass and the rest of the area is completely open.  He roots through his bag to see what shirt he can exchange with me for the T-shirt.  The only shirt he has with him that will have his smell on it is the one on his back.  The others are clean.  So he gives me the one off his back.  Right there in the airport.  It’s green.  It’s soft.

It smells like him.

I take it in my hands.  A link to a man who will soon be far, far, far away from me.  I know the meaning it will eventually hold for me over the coming months, but right now… he’s still standing in front of me.  Putting his jacket back on.  I’m waiting for something.

Then I got it.

A hug.

More of a hold, actually.  The prolonged kind.  The kind you don’t want to leave.  When I think back on it, it makes me feel that instead of coming home that day… I left home.

We stood there too long and I had to hurry through security.

The movie Elizabethtown is on my iPod.  At first it didn’t strike me as very good.  I thought it was kinda boring.  But since I always have it with me, I’ve watched it several more times, and I’ve realized that it’s a movie about grief and healing.  Hope amidst loss.  A few different times throughout the movie the main character says something about “last-looks.”  He says he’s an expert in them.  Like, he can always tell when he’s getting one… a this-is-the-last-time-I’ll-see-you-so-I-better-remember-it-type look.

I am not an expert in last-looks.  But I’m pretty sure I gave one that day, with my green backpack on, as I walked through the security ropes.  Just as I was about to go around the wall, I looked back…

He was standing there.  Watching me.  In that comfortable stance with which he always stands.  Hands at his sides.

In my T-shirt.

That was my last look of Pickle Man for a good while.  I wonder if I’ll ever forget it.  Hopefully we’ll see each other again sooner than later, even though we have lots of obstacles, a few thousand miles more than is typical, in addition to all the other more normal issues that people sort through.  It’s more likely we will, but regardless of what happens, that last look? …

It just might stay with me.

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~ by Eva on April 15, 2009.

5 Responses to “The Separation”

  1. Long distance relationships suck. I’ve never met anyone over the internet before, but I’ve had two “international” ones. I met this guy while living in a foreign country and we became friends and I fell pretty hard for him, but I had to come home. I know how hard it is to say goodbye and have such a big separation. I wish you luck and happiness and hope. Don’t give up!! Even though there are many different issues, every couple has them. I have hope that you guys can see each other once again..

  2. That was a beautiful post! It made me sad….

  3. Let me get this straight. By the end of your trip you felt as if you were leaving home (i.e. pickle man), and then you went ahead and gave him said “last-look.” What’s up with that? Like Sandi said, sad.

  4. A lovely story!! And in it`s sadness I also feel happiness. Keep those memories whatever the future might bring!! And be happy you experienced it. Showing it`s possible and giving hope!

  5. That’s so sweet. I am wondering now how you met Pickle Man.

    In late January, my husband and I flew 6,000 miles to meet people I’d met on the internet so I kind of “get” that feeling you said you felt. My friend said I seemed different to him .. he expected someone more Arab than American. Haaaaaa! Wow, I relate to quite a bit in this post. Not exactly since you went to meet a sweetheart, but the same in that we both developed strong relationships with people over the internet. Mostly Messenger for us though we did talk some by Skype and Google Talk.

    And I totally understood that”I’m home *sigh*” post from when you returned to the States. I still miss Damascus every day. I hope God allows me to go back one day. I also felt I left home. Amazing how it grew on me in 12 days. I loved the place and the people.

    *sigh*

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