You would think I would be good at this by now.
And in some ways, I am good at this. I know the secret corners to plug in my laptop. I know where to get Chinese food at O’Hare when I’m craving even the most greasy of vegetables and how long of a stopover I need to be able to walk there. I know which airports have the kinder customs officials, the ones who don’t balk or excessively when I explain that my fiancé does live in another country and, yes, I am still returning to Canada in two days time. I know which airports have free wireless and which travel websites have the best deals. And I’ve stopped caring who notices me crying as my rolling suitcase echoes behind me.
So after seven times, you’d think I’d have figured out how to say goodbye.
I always tell myself I’m going to be more graceful, more contained. I’ll maybe let a well-intentioned tear or two trickle out, but I will not let out body shaking sobs and have mascara collecting in all the creases in my face. I will be able to walk through the revolving doors, only looking over my shoulder to wave, rather than always needing to turn around, dash back, and bury my face in his neck one more time. I will not loathe the couples sitting near me, contently holding each other’s hands, who don’t understand how effortless their relationship seems to me. I won’t always wake up the morning before he or I leave feeling as though I have been kicked in the stomach. I won’t keep on doing mental arithmetic, counting how many hours, minutes we have left until another goodbye.
But I always do.
I think the mind can’t handle this level of aching every day, this dullness behind the eyes. It covers it up quickly in details like what time to set the alarm, what to make for dinner, what shoes are best for the weather outside, when this report is due. The details, though tedious, are soothing, in that they take you away from the rawness of your own mind. It is as though the only way you can handle being away from the person you love is for you to forget how hard it is when they aren’t there. It is only when you see them again that you realize how barren these days full of details actually are.
It's the night you can roll over and touch him that you realize how empty your bed has been.