Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Passing through paradise

That night M's dad made us dinner. We all played cards afterwards. M's dad was fascinated by our decision to stay together until I left, by my decision to come to Mexico, and the most fascinated by the fact that I hid my little trip from my family. I suppose I understand how that can be confusing... I just didn't want to deal with their opinions about it. I needed to go to Mexico to see M for me. It was something I had to do for myself. For whatever semblance of an ‘us’ there was left... I needed to do it. 

The trip was short but it felt longer than I thought it would.  We had sex in the mornings before his dad woke up and at night after he was asleep. We played cards and took hot tubs. We were just together. No work, no distractions, nothing but an escape for us. 

We had decided that if I did come to Mexico we wouldn't have the same conversation a hundred times. We had decided on the terms of breaking up and knew what we needed to do with that time if we wanted to be in a position to be talking about potentially getting back together. We talked about our fears and we talked about how to help each other move forward. A few more tears ensued, but really it was just a beautiful romantic two days.

On the last night M's dad was ready to go to bed by 8pm, but somehow we got into a conversation that kept the three of us up together until 11.30pm. At first I felt frustrated that our last night together alone was shortened, but M was so glad to have had me share the time with his dad. He worries so much about his dad and he knows he won't be around forever. He was so happy to share it with me and I felt happy just for that.

It ended all too soon. M and Manny took me to the airport. M sat with me in the back and I held on to him as best as I could. They were silent tears, but they were there. The drive felt shorter on the way back to the airport but I never wanted it to end. Once we got to the airport we checked me in. Manny gave M and I some time alone. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest all over again. I was sobbing. I didn't want him to leave me at the airport. We waited to the last second for me to go through security. I tried to breathe in as deeply as I could to remember his smell. I tried to remember his touch, the sound of his voice, the warmth of his body... I tried to commit it all to memory. I hoped it would somehow make it better, easier... 

I cried my way through security and through most of the way through the flight back to Dallas, my layover, until I finally fell asleep. 

I woke upon landing feeling groggy and oddly empty. Would I see M again? Was that it? Would we talk anymore? We said we would... but only for a few more days to try and adjust. What did that mean? My head hurt, my eyes were puffy, and it felt like I had been hit by a bus. 

I gathered my belongings and hobbled off the airplane to head to my next boarding gate. I had a few hours to kill and my stomach was starting to grumble...

There was a Mexican place and the food looked good. It was enough to momentarily distract me from my own thoughts and I sat myself down at a booth. It was noon - but I figured it had to be 5pm somewhere in the world! I ordered a shot of tequila and a blue margarita and told the waitress to surprise me in terms of food. She brought me some tacos and I mashed them up into a taco salad. The tequila shot made my brain quiet down and the margarita made my stomach feel warm. 

I messaged B and S to let them know I was alive and well and that the weekend in Mexico had been amazing and exactly what I needed. Then I called my sister, J, to ask for a huge favor. I had said that I would be back in time for family dinner but I was really cutting it close. I called her cell phone and it rang twice before she answered.

'J, I need a bit of a favor, but don't freak out and I can't talk for long.' 

'Ok...' she answered unsure of what was to come next.

'So, I am in Dallas, I went to Mexico to see M and I need you to get me at the airport so I don't miss dinner and my-sort-of-goodbye family meal.'

I could feel the stunned silence through the phone, but she readily agreed after repeatedly saying 'you're where?!' I promised I would explain when I got back home. 

I gave her my flight number and she was waiting for me upon landing. I climbed into her car and was greeted with an expectant face. I told her about the weekend and how it was amazing and the proper goodbye that I needed. She was supportive albeit a bit shocked. She had a million questions. Questions I was too tired to answer and questions I didn't have real answers too. 

Before we pulled up to my grandma's she asked me 'So, when will you see him next?' I didn't have an answer. 

If my visa came in before he came back, I had no idea when I would see him next. And while I desperately wanted to get to London, M's birthday was on the 30th of September, which was just a few days after I expected the visa if all went well. I so desperately wanted to be with him on his birthday... leaving the day before it just seemed senseless! Maybe I would see him sooner than I had thought when I left him this morning... but then maybe I wouldn't...

Would a third goodbye feel even worse? How much torture was I ready to subject myself to? And which was more torture, not seeing him or seeing him and saying goodbye again? I really didn't know.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Meeting in Mexico

M was easy enough to spot. He's over 6 feet and has curly hair. You can't miss him really. My heart did a sommersault. I couldn't get to him fast enough... the distance between us was unbearable. I literally almost ran to him, but contained myself enough in the airport so as to not look like a completely crazy person. As the distance closed between us I could feel my whole body relax. Finally in his arms and kissing him, everything felt right again. I felt like I was home.

M was waiting for me with Manny. I hadn't even noticed him at first. Manny helped M's dad out while he was in Mexico and was picking me up from the airport because neither M nor I thought it wise to attempt to drive in the streets of Guadalajara. In my excitement to be reunited with M, I didn't even notice when we started walking towards the car, or when M took my bag, or that it was raining outside. All I noticed was his hand in mine and how good it felt to be with him again. I really hadn't thought we would get another chance to be together before I left.

I couldn't bear the thought that we didn't know the last time we slept in his bed would be the last time. Or the last time we'd had sex was the last time I would get to be with him and we didn't know. I'd felt cheated out of a proper goodbye and out of closure. Though, in case you couldn't tell, I certainly wasn't truly ready for it. I was still so in love with M, and I don't think I was even able to recognize just how much I was in love with him at the time. I knew we needed more time together. I needed more time with him. I needed him to know what he meant to me. 

We put my back in the car and headed off to the condo. M sat in the back seat with me during the car ride. I couldn't stop touching him. I think I made him hold my hand for the whole 45 minute car ride. Sometimes I used to be sitting right next to M and I could still feel like I wasn't close enough and that I needed to be even closer - three and half years later and I still felt the same way.

The drive to the condo was beautiful and Manny shared some of the local history. Work had taken me to Mexico and forced me to learn the politics and health system and so I was able to share some stories too. M, always my biggest supported egged me on. He was always so proud to let other people know what I did, he loved my accomplishments as if they were his own. It was also nice to share with M some of the places that I had seen for work. I felt like he was able to understand more about my life, my job, my passion for health and why I was leaving to keep pursuing it.

Upon arrival at the condo we went inside and I settled my stuff in M's room. He showed me the rest of the condo and the condo grounds. It was a happy little oasis. I felt my whole body relax. Part of it was being in the warmth of Mexico, but most of it was just being in the same room as M. His energy always made me feel better. I felt calm for the first time since finding out I had gotten into school. My brain quieted a little. 

M's dad came to say hi quickly and then left the condo to head to the supermarket and give us some privacy. About a minute after we were sure he was gone we were all over each other. Only problem was, about 2 minutes after that my emails started coming, and my Skype and cell phone stared ringing. Non-stop. It was my boss - freaking out!!!! I was 30 minutes late for a call that I actually hadn't even known about. We were trying to finish a project. I was the lead coordinator. She needed me. I tried to make the call go as quickly as possible... but the moment was lost. Here I was picking work over M, when I was trying so desperately to show him how much he mattered to me. He understood though, it was a work day. It was the last call. He always understood... 

By the time I was done M's dad was due back any minute. I stood there feeling lost all over again. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Lying through layovers

*Whoops this was saved accidentally instead of posted. Bear with me!! I'm still learning. 

I landed in Dallas Fort Worth airport and turned on my phone. It was only a couple of hours to the Dallas from home so I figured if my dad realized I left before him there would be a message waiting when my phone finally booted up. The paranoia I felt before the flight had subsided a bit, at this point what could be done anyways? I was half way to Mexico.

The Blackberry finally turned on. Loads of emails from my boss came pouring in. One red message.  A pin on my blackberry from my dad...

'Have fun at the cottage. Message me before you leave.'

Excellent! No one else would question where I was. By now it was 9:30 am in the morning at home. Seemed like a reasonable hour to say I was headed off to a cottage. I fired off a message to my dad and my mom saying I was headed to the cottage but that it had limited cell service and so if they couldn't reach me not to worry and that I'd see them Sunday night. Big lie - but I would be turning off my cell service and only hook my phone up to the internet, so messages would only come through when I was near wifi. I figured since I had started a lie, I had better play it out properly... Not my finest hour. I know.

The layover was a long one. I had some work to do and a nifty little internet stick courtesy of my office, so I went to my next boarding gate with my carry-on bag and fired up my laptop. I started to get down to business when my cell rang. It was my boss. Technically, yes, it was a workday and I had not notified my office that I was going on a trip. Since my first flight was so early it didn't impact the start of my day much, and since the layover was quite long I figured I'd fit in a bunch of work and then work through the next flight and that would account for a day full of work. The only thing I forgot was my boss was a little intense if you will. 

I clicked ignore on my cell - no long distance plan for chatting - and Skyped her back. We chatted for a good 30 minutes. Finally she said 'Are you in an airport?!' Pesky little loud speaker almost gave me away - or did give me away and my boss was just gracious. I continued on my hot streak of lies and told her the internet at my house was down due to construction on my street so I had gone to a coffee shop; perhaps she was hearing background noise?  Brutal lie and totally unbelievable. What coffee shop has a loud speaker? I turned on my mute button for the remainder of the time I wasn't talking so at the very least she would hear minimal boarding calls. We chatted for about another 45 minutes and then I was left to my own devices to continue working. I advised her that I would be out of reach for a few hours later in the day. 

Before I knew it my layover time was up and I was boarding the flight to Guadalajara. I couldn't wait to get there. I sat on the plane. Waited for lift off and once we were safely in the sky continued to work. Before I knew it I was touching down. I was there! I would see M again, smell him again, touch him again... be with him again. The anticipation was too much!

I got off the plane with my minimal luggage - very handy when you are too excited to wait to disembark, never mind a baggage terminal. I moved as quickly as I could to get to customs. The Spanish I learned in high school and then had to attempt to use at my job came in quite handy. 

The customs officer asked me how long I would be in Mexico. I responded 'Dos días.' He looks at me curiously and said 'Doce or dos? Twelve or two, miss?' I reaffirmed 'Dos. Two.' He stamped my passport, a lovely green stamp, and off I went. 

There was another line when you exited customs - didn't these people know I was in a rush!!!! You had to have your bags scanned, walk through a machine, and then push a button. If you pushed the button and the light turned green you could go through, if the light was red you would be stopped and searched. 

Green, green, green, green, and then it was my turn. Wouldn't you have guessed it!? RED. Good heavens! I thanked myself for packing light once again. I was thoroughly searched. They asked a few questions. I answered all of them. The last one they asked in Spanish 'Are you carrying more than $10,000.' My smartass response? 'Solo en mi sueños...' The guard looked at me curiously, laughed and waved me through.

I was steps away. The doors opened. Where was he...? 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sneaking Away

M finally got my email a few hours later. He Skyped me immediately. 

"Tell me you are at the airport and you are coming?!"

I stared into the computer screen, tears again...

Then M got upset. I begged him not to be upset with me. Turns out he wasn't! He was upset with his mom. He was so sad she had managed to talk me out of being on an airplane that second. He wanted me there. He missed me. He still loved me. I felt like I could breathe again. We sat on Skype and he booked me a ticket for the next morning - Friday at 6:15 am connecting through somewhere in Texas. It would be a short trip but well worth it. We talked on Skype for a bit longer. He showed me the condo and the gardens over the computer. He told me reading my email was the saddest thing he'd ever had to do. He had actually arrived at the place and was supposed to go to Wal-Mart with his dad to go get some stuff for the place, but when he saw the title of my email he knew he needed to stay in and read it and resolve it.

That night my sister came over with her husband. They tried to make me dinner. I wasn't hungry. I was too busy thinking about how I was going to tell my family I was disappearing for the weekend. They wouldn't understand it if I told them I was going to Mexico for the weekend. They'd say I was nuts to travel so far for such a short time, they'd say it was too expensive, they'd say I was prolonging the hurt, maybe they'd even say it wasn't safe. It didn't matter because I wasn't telling them. I knew they would try to stop me. 

I told everyone that I was going to B's cottage for the weekend. That I wanted to be out of the city for the next few days. Everyone seemed ok with it. No one wanted to be around the sad A. The only condition: I had to be back for Sunday night dinner - the last one before I left. 

Sunday night dinners were tradition with my family: the entire extended family on my dad's side would get together at my grandmas and she would cook for us. Over the years with the boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives and babies that were added dinner frequently hit 20-25 people. If you were in the city or even near the city and didn't go, you could expect a severe tongue lashing from my grandma - so severe, in fact, that it was never worth missing dinner. We all knew it. And to be honest, none of us liked to miss dinner. We loved to see each other. Catch up once a week and stay in each other’s lives. Having lived out of the country and away from home for so long, I especially loved Sunday night dinners and knew my presence was not optional - especially since I was leaving yet again. 

I had anticipated this - my ticket had me leaving early Sunday morning so I would be back in time. That's right... I arrived Friday at 2 pm and left Sunday at 9 am. 

Some might begin to reconsider going. I was resolute. 

A 6:15 am flight meant leaving my house by 4 am. The question was how to get out of the house... My mom was out of town, so she was easy enough to evade. My dad had an appointment downtown at 7, so I'd have to be out long before he woke up to get ready and somehow make sure he didn't come in to say goodbye. My brother slept like a bear in the dead of winter so I wasn't too worried about him.

I spent the night hanging out with my dad in his room and after he fell asleep I made sure the alarm was off for the night. Setting off the alarm was a sure fire way to wake my dad. Press one button and he was up. EXCEPT - for the first 20 minutes he was asleep - it's literally the weirdest thing ever. But I took advantage. Turned it off. 

I went to my room. Packed my bag and carried it down to the side door that I would leave out of. I went back upstairs. Packed my purse. Set my alarm from 3:15 am. I was up by 3. I wrote a note "Sleeping in, don't wake me" and left it outside my bedroom door. I called a cab. Snuck out the side door and was waiting for the cab by 3:45 am. Just as I was about to get into the cab I realized - car key in my pocket! GAH!!! I couldn't take the car key to Mexico. That was not reasonable. I went and slipped it into the mailbox. I figured the cleaning lady would find it. She was there on Friday's and she always took in the mail. 

I got to the airport and made it through security by 4:30 am. It was so fast! I was convinced I would be found out. What reason would I have for not being home at this hour? It would be clear I was lying about something. There's no way B would have come to get me at 5 am to go to the cottage. That's insane. I got totally paranoid. I tried to distract myself with work from my job. I fired off a bunch of emails. Got through a ton. It was now 6 am - my dad would be up. How come he hadn't messaged? He knew - for sure - I was going to be caught... oh crap. But nothing came. No one knew. I got s crazy at one point I even messaged myself to make sure my phone was working and borrowed someone’s cell to call my own. 

Finally it was time to board. If I were going to get caught now it would be too late. I'd be in the air. 

I boarded the plane. Turned off the phone and hoped for the best!!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Flights of Fancy

I finally calmed down enough to drive home. All I wanted to do was get into bed and close my eyes and never wake up again. Everything felt heavy. Everything hurt too much.

My mom was leaving to go to the airport for a business trip - I saw her round the corner of the street as I was driving towards the house. She called to ask what I was doing driving home at 5:45 in the morning. I told her I had just dropped off M. I didn't want to talk. She tried to comfort me, but it only manage to annoy me. I cut the conversation short and pulled into the driveway. I hated living at home. It had been 7 years since I'd lived with my parents, but because I had had M's apartment to stay in and my parents house was so close to the school I had initially been going to, York, it didn't make sense to move out.

I walked into the house and up the stairs. My dad was home. He hollered a hello, wondering if my mom had forgotten something.  I told him it was me and I was going back to bed and not to come wake me before he left. There is nothing MORE awkward than my dad when it comes to me and boys. M and I had been together for 3 and a half years, and I visited home infrequently, so occasionally M would sleep at my parents house with me so I could see my parents and see M - to this day, my dad still pretends that M would just show up for breakfast. I'm not even kidding. Its kind of adorable and kind of uncomfortable at the same time. 

I dropped everything when I got to my room. Closed the door. Closed the drapes. Closed the blinds. Left the lights off. I crawled under the blankets of my bed and sobbed hysterically into the pillows so my dad wouldn't hear. Everything hurt - I swear I could even feel pain in the follicles of my hair. I would try to calm myself down and manage a moment or two of silence before sobs would wrack my body all over again. I'd never felt anything like it. I'd felt worse pain, I'd experienced loss before, but not a loss like this  - not one that was self-inflicted.

I sent my friend B a message. B wasn't my best friend in the world, but she had recently been through some tough stuff with her bf and I was there for her and I knew she'd do the same for me. And B was the perfect person to talk to because I didn't want to talk to my best friends. It made it too real. B knew me, she knew M, she knew us. She didn't judge. She just listened and did what every girl does - offer to distract me with movies and ice cream.

I also messaged S, my best friend in the whole world. She lived in London. She couldn't have been more happy I was coming - but she knew leaving M would be tough.

Somewhere along the lines of talking to them I decided I needed to go to Mexico. I had to follow M. If he could have stayed and given us more time he would have. He would do anything for me. But he was in a situation where his dad needed him and he couldn't put me first. I had to show him I could put him first, if for no other reason than I needed him to understand how important he was to me. B was a bit skeptical, but supportive nonetheless and S was totally on board. She even offered to book my ticket for me.

I went back and forth on subject a bit. Was I really about to get on a plane to Mexico? Was this making it better? Was it making it worse? What did I think I was doing? Last night, M said he wanted me there - we had decided that we would be together until I left the country, so we could still have time to say goodbye while he was in Mexico. But maybe now that he was on the plane he wasn't into it anymore. Maybe he just needed to cut me off cold turkey. I tried to message him on his phone. He was in the air. I  called again on his layover - his phone was still off. I called Chicago airport on his layover and tried to have them page him. They wouldn't. I tried to call again when I thought he would have landed in Mexico. Still his phone was off.

I was resolute in my head, I was going to Mexico. I found a flight. I almost booked it - and then it hit me: I had no idea where M was in Mexico exactly. I knew what city - but I didn't have an address.

I called his mom to ask if she knew the address. And to my shock - and yet also not shock at all, because this is so typical of his family  - she did not have a clue as to what his address was. She didn't know the name of the real estate agent, or the car company they prearranged. She didn't even know that they had flown into Guadalajara. Like I said before, the woman is sweeter than sweet but heads in the clouds!

Soon the conversation shifted from where I was supposed to go when I got there to if I should go at all. I hadn't asked for her opinion; she gave it to me anyways. I was prolonging the hurt, I was taking M away from his dad, it wasn't fair to either of us to drag this out, it wasn't fair to make this time about M and I when it should be about making sure M's dad got settled in Mexico,  I wasn't going to accomplish anything if I went, we would see where we were in a year, it wasn't so long... and on she went for about 20 minutes. It came from a place of true love, the woman doesn't have a mean bone in her body and she truly thought she was being helpful and saying what M would say - but it was the worst thing I'd ever heard anyone say. I sat on the phone with tears streaming down my face trying my best not to cry out loud - trying my best not to make her feel bad for making me cry... She broke my heart all over again.

I began to doubt myself, doubt that he wanted me to come, doubt that he wanted me at all. I got so wrapped up in my head and what M's mom had said that I began to think she was right. What was I trying to accomplish anyways?

I sat down at my computer and wrote to M - I lay everything on the table. How I wanted to come, how his mom said not to, how I didn't want to be selfish with him if his dad needed him, how I loved him, how I'd never hurt so much in my life, how I wasn't sure he'd still want to be with me now that he'd left, how I couldn't make the decision with him in the air without hearing his thoughts, how I needed him to know I'd do it in heart beat, how he was coming first for me now and that I hoped it wasn't too late... everything that I thought that day I put into an email - crying the entire time I wrote it - and finally clicking send.

I couldn't get on an airplane without him knowing I was coming...

Could I?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tear streaked kisses

I know it all sounds dramatic in retrospect, but it wasn't. We never yelled, we were hardly ever unhappy; the time we did have together made me happier than I ever even thought possible, and the time apart made me realize why I loved him so much. Watching other couples together and listening to my friends talk about their boyfriends only made me realize that M was the best person I'd ever known. 

M made me the best version of myself, and I tried to do the same for him. His support was and is always unwavering. I hope he felt the same in return. 

I reflect on some of what is on here and I wonder if I am not the most atrocious, hideous person - selfish and mean. I won't make excuses for our faults as a couple or individuals, I'll only say that we were real and honest, and we dealt with everything as upfront and honestly as possible. M always knew that I wanted a career that would mean love came second for awhile, which sounds just as bad written out here as I thought it would. But I was always I honest, I was always upfront, and I never misled him. And he showed me the same respect. There were never lies, not intentional ones. There was always trust. I never for a second worried he would be unfaithful and I know he never worried about that either. There is no one either of us wanted to be with more than each other...

So then how did we end up here, oceans apart... 

I suppose life happened. For one, I suppose I wanted more than life at home and my family wanted that for me - allowed me to go without ever making me feel obligated to them. M has a different situation. I am lucky to have the family that I do, the family that can encourage and push me to achieve my most outrageous dreams. M's family needs him; in a way my family doesn't need me.

Back to the day of the letter of acceptance... 
I had dropped M off at his friends, headed back into the city to sort visa and packing issues. My family took me for an impromptu celebratory dinner - as I said before M didn't want to come. I'm sure there were a myriad of reasons - leaving the next day to Mexico, not wanting to field the 'what will happen questions', not being entirely ready to toast my departure... - but still it hurt. I wanted to spend my every waking (and sleeping) second with him, yet I knew I also had to give my family the appropriate amount of face time. Dinner consisted of my sister, her husband, my brother, both my parents and my grandmother and me. My sister, recently pregnant, gave us yet another reason to celebrate and it felt good to be able to simply be happy, but without M at the table with me something was just so clearly missing for me. 

After dinner I drove back out to M's parents house where we would spend the night. I had offered to drive him and his dad to the airport the next morning at 4 a.m. What a girl in love will do just to get a few more minutes! I arrived around 10 p.m. M was waiting up for me. It was finally time.  It was time to have the talk that I knew would shatter my heart into a million tiny pieces and leave me changed forever.  

We went out to his dad's car. It was more private. Just the two of us. As I try to relive this conversation to write it all down it hurts my heart all over again. It started along the lines of M saying 'So, we're breaking up...'  We hashed out the details of what it meant and what we each needed to do with the year if we were ever going to have a real chance of being together again. I needed to spend the year learning about myself and the type of person I wanted to be with, and M needed to spend the year learning about himself and deciding if the life he told me he wanted, really and truly is the life he wants. It seems so simple in writing, but in real life it’s complicated and messy. 

And while I wish I could share the whole conversation it's too hard to write. I think about it and my insides sear with pain all over again. I do remember wondering aloud to M how I ever could have been so callous to think that it would hurt less if I left because of school; regardless I was leaving. I remember sobbing and saying repeatedly 'It hurts too much.' It felt like the pain would never go away, and sometimes it still does. I remember apologizing repeatedly, as if somehow it might help. I remember the tears that fell on his shirt. My tears... his tears...our tears... they all mixed together. I remember how he smelled - a smell I know I'll never forget, a smell that was home for 3 and half years. But mostly I remember the look in his eyes. I hate myself for hurting him; I hate myself for it every day. 

That night we got into bed together and held each other. I wouldn't let him go. I hardly slept at all and the 3:45 a.m. alarm came all too soon. We both got out of bed and put on clothes. I'm pretty sure I was still crying and hadn't even realized it. We said goodbye to his mom and loaded the car. M had his dad sit in the front - I wanted to scream 'no,' I pleaded silently with my eyes... But M knew what he was doing. With M in the front seat I'd have been a wreck and we wouldn't have made it any where near the airport. So we all idly chatted on the ride to the airport, talking about Mexico and M's dad's business he was hoping to set up. We chatted about M's childhood memories from different places we passed. We chatted about wedding we had once gone to on the road we drove past. We chatted about speed limits. We chatted about the sunrise. We chatted...  Until we were finally there: The airport. 

We unloaded the bags. M's dad crossed the road to give us some privacy. I tried not to cry, but as M held me for what I was afraid was the final time something inside me broke all over again. We kissed, and then we kissed again. He started to leave and then we kissed once more, a tearful kiss. He crossed the street to the entrance of the airport. I got back into the car. 

I sat at the steering wheel sobbing for what felt like an eternity. 

It couldn't end this way. It couldn't end so abruptly. I wouldn't let it.