Is there some kind of requirement that every couple has to “take a break” at least once?  We fought bitterly months ago; I slept on the sofa that night because there were no immediate flights back to my city; and I left you early without saying good-bye, taking my toothbrush from your bathroom as though to indicate that I was done with you, that I wouldn’t be coming back, so mail me all my clothes and books and cooking things, okay, thanks, bye.

I confess I sat in my room when I’d arrived back in my city, still wearing the clothes from the night before, the smell of airports and airplane and subways on me.  I wanted to wash the stink of everything messy off me, but, for some reason, that felt permanent, like I’d be admitting defeat, so I sat and waited for you to call, to e-mail, to do anything that hinted at a desire to mend bridges because I was determined to sit and wait until you made the first move.  It was a stubbornness that started out weak then hardened as the hours ticked painfully by and all I had from you was silence, and then hours became days became weeks became months.

Did I get over you in that time?  No, but maybe I started to forget.  Maybe I convinced myself I’d started to forget.  Maybe I went through all the motions of moving on in hopes that I’d start to believe it, too.

But, when I ran into you today at the bookstore, I felt it all come back, the memories, the feelings, the good times.  I’d forgotten why I’d been so angry with you that night, what exactly it was we’d fought over before we separated, too furious with the other to speak, to want to do anything but allow our inaction to act as a natural ending point to what we once were, and I admit I almost walked away before you could say anything, but I didn’t.  You didn’t beat around the bush any, still your usual direct self, and said you’d flown in to see me but that you weren’t sure what you should do because it’d been so long and we’d left so much up in the air, but, hey, here we were, maybe if I had time, we could go to the café across the street and get coffee and muffins like we used to?

I turned you down, though, love, and it was possibly one of the harder things I’ve done in my life.  I could see the disappointment in your eyes, maybe even regret, but I smiled at you, told you I’d give you a call later, and wished you well and left you there, hurriedly walking out without looking back once.  Do I regret that?  To be quite honest, I can’t quite say, but I still have your phone number, still have you on speed dial, but what I need right now is a little more time to be honest with myself after so many months passed in numb denial, so be patient, love, and maybe we’ll be able to move on together again.

The first snow, a city blanketed in clean white — I pull my sofa to the window and watch the snow falling outside.  It’s five a.m., and God knows why I’m awake, so I phone you and wax poetic about the beautiful whiteness of the world.

Yeah, you mutter into the phone, my world’s white, too.  From paperwork.

I laugh at you, ask you if it’s snowing there, and you say, No, not yet, it’s early in the season for snow.

It’s beautiful, the snow.

Until the city wakes up and tramples it into slush?


Why are you awake, anyway?  Isn’t it early there?


Are you falling asleep on me?  Hello?

When the weather turns and chill starts to creep inside, I like to use you to warm my feet.  You shriek — yes, you shriek — when my frozen toes make contact with your shins, niggling their way up under your trousers or sweats (it’s better when you’re wearing sweats; the material holds warmth better!), and you jump up from wherever you’re sitting, rubbing your shins as I sulk and pout and moan that my feet are cold, come back, you’re nice and warm!

You come home the next day with a bag of socks — not one measly pair but many, and not the flimsy, thin, standard cotton sock but the thick warm ones you wear when skiing.  Of course, though, I lose them all because why bother with keeping track of socks when I have you?

We had our first real future talk last night.  It was a bit of an out-of-body experience; I felt like I was hovering over us, watching as the figure of me talked to the figure of you about possible future arrangements; and I suppose it shouldn’t have been anything off because every serious relationship is bound to stumble upon this conversation table at one point.  We talked about the possibility of you moving to my city, of me moving here, of maybe finding a halfway point, except that halfway point would be a boat in the middle of the ocean, and we ruminated and talked and ruminated some more until past midnight when we went to bed.  I carried a heavy heart into bed with me, not for regret of having come this far but for the inevitability and necessity of change and everything this specific change encompasses.  We work so well long distance, and I confess I’m terrified that this won’t work so well once we take our lives and twist them up full-time — but the problem, really, is that I love my city, but I love yours, too, and I think we should look for that option that lets us split our lives together in these cities of ours.

The first time you kissed me, we were standing in the street. It was dusk, that magical cross between afternoon and evening, and the city was warm and cool at the same time, slight swirling breezes catching on clothing, tugging on hair, and we’d been meandering so as to prolong conversation, musing about what to eat, where to go, what to do because we should get off the street and into somewhere cozy and warm from which to watch the evening settle in the city. We paused as though a lack of motion would help the decision process, and, in the instant I was tumbling over options out loud, you cross the barrier between us and kissed me.

It was sweet — the kiss itself, the smile when you pulled away, the way you cleared your throat and said, We really should eat something … — that bashfulness that follows an act fuelled by impulse when one wishes badly to commit the act, consequences be damned. It was sweet — the moment, the blue-grey hues staining the city around us, the next hesitating steps taken after a kiss bestowed unawares — and, when we returned to ambulatory motion again, you slipped your hand in mine, lacing your fingers through mine, in a simple gesture that communicated everything I wanted to know about us, where we were going, what we could be.

I have this thing I do:  I steal your Ts when you’re not looking, pack them away so I can hug them when I miss you most and pretend you’re here with me, not an ocean away.

When I catch cold, you’re triumphant and go about trumpeting that I was right; what’d I tell you; you don’t get enough vitamins!  I glower at you balefully from under the hood I’ve made myself out of my comforter, muttering things about how you’re bloody crazy and who’s bloody fault is it that I caught his goddamn virus from when he was insane enough to play ultimate Frisbee in the rain???, but I can’t mutter too much because at least you’re doing your gloating as you make me soup, carefully following the instructions I’ve written in my notebook, filling your house with the lovely comforting aromas of chicken soup made with lemon and rice — or, at least, I assume the aromas are there because my sinuses are so congested I can’t smell a thing.

It’s lucky for you my taste buds have been so immobilised.  When I reheat your soup the next night after my sinus cold has abated and given me back my olfactory senses, I wonder how I let you feed this to me, and you smile bashfully, scratch your head, and say, Yeah.  I was really glad you couldn’t taste a thing last night … I followed your notes exactly, but somehow it just turned out like that …!

Little notes found tucked into books or notebooks that make me smile when I get back to my flat — I store these by date in a little card box, and I can just picture how pleased you’d be over my organising, you OCD weirdo.

Sunday afternoons tumbling out of the cinema into cooling twilight — we order espresso and caprese sandwiches from the Italian place down the street and pretend that it’s not Sunday afternoon, that I don’t have to catch a red-eye in five hours, that you don’t have to go home to an empty house, wash up alone, and sleep by yourself on your side of the bed because tomorrow’s Monday and you’ll be at the office when I call from back home in my city to tell you I’ve arrived safely.

I like making you dinner.  You always eat with such satisfaction then do the dishes after.

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