This excerpt continues with the beginning of our relationship, still figuring out how to navigate our world as a couple. My hope is that as the reader, you can identify with us, and know us. Enjoy.
As the year comes to a close, we decide to take the risk of continuing a long-distance relationship while we finish school in our respective states. While it doesn’t seem like an easy thing to accomplish, we both see no other choice.
My time in Spain ends well before Jason’s. Having booked my ticket home two months earlier, I always knew this time was inevitable. On my last day, Jason takes me to the airport, early enough to grab a quick lunch. It is our last meal together.
“I’m really going to miss you, Jason. How am I going to do this?” I push around my french fries.
“You’ll make it. We’ll make it.” With these words and a light touch on my hand, Jason tries to console me, which is no easy task. I do my best to eat my lunch, but my twisted stomach doesn’t let me.
As we throw away our trash, I know the time has come for Jason to walk me to the security gate. We stroll slowly down the hallway, savoring our last moments. Jason’s arm around my shoulders helps keep me upright. My legs feel weak. I choke back tears as we near the end of the hall. Turning to each other, I cry.
“I don’t want to leave!” Jason holds me, letting the tears make a wet spot on his shoulder. As much as I fight it, I can no longer deny it’s time for me to go. Jason kisses me one last time, and I begin walking away. Our hands, once clasped together, begin to slip apart. The noises of the security checkpoint, the beeping and talking and shuffling of feet, are all background noise as I watch Jason wave from his place outside the winding line. I wipe the tears from my cheeks, wave one last time, grab my bag, and turn away. It is finally time to do this, the quicker the better, like a bandage.
When I get home to my parents’ house, I find that I am relieved to be home, but also have much adjusting to do. Not only is the United States so different from Spain in every way imaginable, but I am now without my best friend and confidant, and I feel a bit lost. I try to have some fun times with friends, and get ready for the impending school year. Nothing is the same without Jason. Food is not as flavorful, days are not as bright, sleep is not as restful. We talk as much as possible, but with the high cost of long-distance calls, that’s not always possible. I savor each time I hear his voice, feeling my heart melt all over again. Email is our savior, and we use it as much as possible. My heart flutters every time I hear a “ding!” notifying me of these awaited for messages. To me, his words are magical, making me smile as I hear his voice in my head. Hearing his stories still makes me laugh and cry, even over the miles that divide us.
I caught on fire today, that stupid hot mitt started burning while was making spaghetti.The flames were coming from the end of the oven mitt, and all I could think to do was quickly wave it and throw it to the ground, stomping the heat and fire out. After I was sure things were safe, and the whole apartment building wasn’t going to burn down, I thought of how much I miss you. Clearly, I need you around to keep me sane. I’m okay though. I think I’ll survive.
Inside I’m still burning up and I notice every little thing I miss about you. Today has been a very hard day on me, I don’t know what to do with myself anymore.
I hope your flight went okay. Did everything go okay getting through customs? Hopefully it wasn’t too bad.
There was so much more I was going to say, but I can’t think of it now. Just know that I miss you horribly and hope to see you again soon.
In a strange way, it thrills my heart knowing he is missing me enough to become absent-minded and accident-prone. Hearing how he discovered his need to have me in his life by the literal flame in his hand makes me realize we will always need each other. We always have each others’ backs; we always know how to make each other laugh, even after what seems like traumatic and possibly dangerous situations. From this moment on, I realize the universe won’t allow us to let go of what we had found in each other.
“If you guys can make it through this, you can make it through anything,” this pearl of wisdom from my Dad helps me pass the time. This separation, this test of fate for our relationship, is only the beginning. We are making it, somehow, first while living on separate continents, then in separate states while at separate schools. Even though this is the beginning, I feel as though our souls are super glued together. It is almost unimaginable that two people can be so connected, and want to endure so much together, without just giving up and saying, “That’s is! I throw in the towel!”
During our winter break, I go out East to visit Jason. I fly alone to an airport I am unfamiliar with, just to get this week with him. It is the most time we get to spend together since I left Spain seven months earlier. He drives an hour from his home just to come and get me. My nerves ascend as the plane descends. My stomach flips around in my gut, my breathing shortens to small bursts of air. All I think about is busting off the plane, breaking through the crowd and running up the airport terminal into Jason’s arms. Things progress much slower than this in reality, and I need to wait my turn to get off the plane, then to get my bag, then to take the shuttle to the other part of the airport. Finally, finally, the terminal doors swing open, and I see Jason waiting there for me as promised. I rush up to him (the one part of my original plan that I could do), and we hold each other. We are smiling, laughing, hugging once again, just like I remember. The feeling and knowing how to be with Jason is so easy, I couldn’t forget how to be with him if I tried. Being in his arms, and his presence, feels perfect.
On my second day there, he gets me into the car, and tells me he can’t say where we are going. I am instructed to close my eyes, and no peeking!
“I have to run in here real quick. Keep your eyes closed. I’ll be right back.” He gets out of the car, and I am left alone, in the quiet and in the darkness behind my eyelids. I think “how strange and exciting this is.” I turn my head to the side, forgetting I cannot actually see anything. I fight the urge to open my eyes, knowing that Jason would be so disappointed. He clearly is going to a lot of trouble to do something special. It’s cute, he’s cute, and I don’t want to ruin this moment. He comes back shortly, hands me a box, and says I should hold it until we get to the next destination. We drive for what feels like a long time, but of course that could be my warped sense of perception due to my closed eyes. I cannot see the landscape, the mountains, the streets. I have no sense of where we are, or where we are going. As the car finally slows, I am instructed to open my eyes, and I see we are at the entrance of a national park in the mountains. Being wintertime, we are only allowed access a little ways into the park.
“This is fine,” Jason comments on our limited access. “I just wanted to take you on a little hike.” Being about 25 degrees outside, I think this is a bit crazy. Yet the day is beautiful, with just a little bit of snow cover. We get out of the car, with box in hand (his hand this time), and Jason leads me up a path into a wooded area. It’s mostly secluded, with just a few hikers passing by on occasion. We come to a large bumpy log, lying on its side very near the edge of a cliff. We are high enough up the path to overlook the mountains. The sky is clear, the sun is bright. The mountains are visible in the distance through the trees, kissed with just a bit of sunshine.
“Let’s sit right here and enjoy the moment,” Jason suggests, pointing to the log. It is a bit awkward, the two of us trying to balance on a round, bumpy, lopsided object. It’s barely big enough for both of us, so we have to sit close. I don’t mind. I stay quiet, waiting to see what Jason’s next move is. The silence between us is peaceful. We hear the wind blowing through the barren tree branches. We watch a couple hike by with their dog. We all say our friendly “hellos!” and they disappear into the trees. As the path clears out as far as we can see in either direction, Jason starts to get down off the log. At that very moment, a fast-walking single hiker comes up the path from where the previous couple had disappeared. Jason stands up slightly, sighing a sigh of slight annoyance. The hiker disappears as quickly as he appeared. Jason crouches back down, and I notice now that he is on one knee, on the ground, in the snow and mud and brown crunchy leaves. My brain is reeling, my blue eyes grow big. I think I know what is about to happen, but this doesn’t feel real! I am only 21 years old, but I already know I would marry Jason in a heartbeat.
“Laura, you have made me so happy during the time we have been together,” Jason begins a sort of speech he has seemed to have prepared for this moment. That confirms that this really is happening. I am so surprised, and shocked, and thrilled that I honestly don’t really hear the rest of what he says. Well, I do hear it, but I don’t hear it. He opens the small box I had been carrying to reveal a shiny, diamond studded band. Jason went to a lot of trouble to pick out a ring he thought I’d like, and went to the trouble of getting me out to the beautiful mountainous landscape. All feels right in my-our-world.