We’ll see each other again, right? This isn’t goodbye forever…right?
Those words had haunted David for the last several years.
They were often the last thing on his mind before he crawled into bed at night. They were usually his first thoughts of the morning. They stayed with him through the nights when he didn’t sleep at all – whether because of impending deadlines or insomnia.
People always tell him, “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” and he’d grown to hate that expression. They weren’t wrong, but those words – and the people who spoke them – felt so callous to him. It was like they expected him to suddenly wake up and stop loving her – like he could turn his feelings off just like that. But he couldn’t, and he wholly, helplessly loved Laura.
He was obsessed, and he knew that too. You don’t spend years haunted by a memory and call it anything but obsession. But understanding what it was didn’t make it any easier to understand what he should do with those feelings.
He tried moving on – it didn’t work, but it did make him feel like an ass when he had to end relationships because he loved a memory more than his girlfriend. He tried drinking – and that made it worse. Drinking gave him a series of misadventures he was glad he didn’t remember, as well as a legion of headaches he wished he could forget. He tried burying himself in his work, but it just made him feel dead inside. Only Laura, or the memory of her, made him feel alive.
Pain was an interesting way to measure “feeling alive”, but it was all he had these days.
They had met in college, and spent more than a year a friends before spending two as lovers. But when graduation came and they had to head out into the real world, life took them in two completely different directions. Laura headed to Boston to work on her Master’s. David had gone to the West Coast, where the corporate culture proved agreeable to him, and he made a name for himself.
He didn’t mean for them to drift apart. He’d always planned to call, to text, to…something. But there’d always been one reason, or another, and he put it off for another day. He put it off time and time again until the delay became a question he was terrified to answer. And he never heard from her – and his own doubts and insecurities filled that silence as well.
Believing she’d moved on, David tried to move on too, and failed miserably. And in a moment of desperation, he sent her a message, expecting the worst. But the unbelievable happened: Laura replied.
Hey, I’ve missed you. How have you been?
And slowly, their relationship picked up again. She’d finished her Master’s and was teaching at the University of Vermont. Her father had passed away, but her mother was still with her. She’d never married. Little by little, they bridged the distance of those years apart from one another.
And recently, they’d agreed to meet. David was flying in to Burlington, and would stay the week. His nerves were a mess the entire trip.
She’d told him she’d meet him at the baggage claim. David made a bee line for it as soon as the plane touched down. He waited impatiently for his luggage to arrive, and anxiously scanned the crowd for Laura. He looked and looked, but he couldn’t find her.
I’ll wear blue. You won’t miss me – unless I find you first.
He felt a tap on his shoulder, and turned around.