Tuesday, July 17, 2012

'K, Bye.

I knew Friday was going to suck.

To begin with, driving to Dulles Airport from Baltimore City sucks. No matter what time of day you leave, there is going to be traffic. Nasty, snarly, DC traffic. And there seems to be a ridiculous concentration of drivers who are hopelessly lost, and who back up onto the highway upon missing an exit. 

I'm not kidding. We witnessed this twice on Friday.

The drive home, I knew, was going to be exponentially more nasty. You can't go anywhere headed East in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area on a Friday afternoon from May-October, because everyone and their mother (and their mothers-in-law, and their 17 bikes, and their luggage carrier on top of the minivan, and their screaming kids, and their boogie boards, etc. etc.) is on their way to the beach. And if you're not headed to the beach? You don't go anywhere. At all.

I also knew that dropping The Gentleman off at the airport was the single act I had been most dreading for the last 30 days. Airport passenger drop-off zones are hideous for proper goodbyes, although I'd foolishly thought that a quick-like-a-Band-Aid approach would be best in the long run (more on that later). 

I had absolutely no idea just how much suckage I was in for.

First of all, The Gentleman told me that he had "a few things" that needed to go to Goodwill. And that we could just toss them in the car. "A few things" turned into four trips from his second floor apartment to my car, arms laden with boxes.

I tried to be "happy and helpful" through all of this. "Happy and helpful" is what The Gentleman says, in a mocking tone, whenever I have to do something that I really, really, really don't want to do. Those 5am training runs for the half marathon? "HAPPY AND HELPFUL!" he would yell, because usually he'd ingested two Five Hour Energies before I'd even had a chance to get my second eyelid open. At which point, I'd punch him. 

Playfully. And lovingly. Happily, and helpfully. Punch him. In his stupid face.

(This has come back to bite him. Like the time Small, Troubled Cat decided to go on a pukefest that led me to believe she'd ingested poinsettia or coolant, and he had to go with me to the vet's with a tiny, trembling, puking cat. "Happy and helpful!" I reminded him. Only he couldn't punch me in the face, because I am a lady. And he was holding the heaving cat. Who, it turned out, had a "teensy allergic reaction" to something. AKA - Attention Whore Syndrome.)

I digress. (Get used to this. I have a LOT MORE FREE TIME on my hands to digress in these blog postings these days.)

Anyway, so to punish The Gentleman for making me haul boxes containing every pair of jeans he's owned in the last 10 years to my car, I made him stop and put air in my tires. A chore I HATE. Happy and helpful!

And then the drive to the airport. What can you possibly say to the person you love during a two-hour drive to the airport, whom you're about to not see for like four months that hasn't already been said? You both know what the end destination of this drive is - a really intense goodbye - and so making conversation becomes about either commenting on the passing scenery or discussing people you mutually know, usually in a way that illustrates what terrible life choices they are making. Because that makes you feel BETTER about this terrible, terrible car ride. To break the tension, I also played The Gentleman my current favorite workout song:

(It's this, by the way. Seriously. Tell me that doesn't make you want to pound the treadmill.)

Somehow, despite the traffic, that drive was far too short. My stomach was churning with the thought of that one awful moment, the one where I have to let go, let him go, get back in my car, and drive my separate way knowing that I won't see him until November. I had envisioned the drive as being neverending, but the next thing I knew we were trying to find the British Airways drop-off zone, and the next thing I knew we were pulling up to the passenger drop-off area.

I had secretly hoped it would be completely packed so that The Gentleman would have no choice but to do a little tuck-and-roll maneuver. "OKAY LOVE YOU BYE!" and I could speed off and start crying and get on with the rest of this shitty day.

No such luck. There were like three other cars there, and not an officer of the law in sight to tell us
Hurry Along, This Is a Drop-Off Zone Only, No Stopping. We had all the time in the world.

I helped The Gentleman unload his suitcases, secretly wondering if I could distract him so that he'd accidentally forget one and he'd have to come home to get it. No such luck, he seemed to know exactly how many bags he had. Oh, NOW you're organized!

And then....the hug. The epic hug where you try to wrap everything up, tie it all up nicely, and say everything about what that person means, what all of this means, how you're going to be just fine, and no, of course you're not crying, and this is totally cool and everything's been said and, ok, bye now, ok, bye, ok bye.

Except I was crying. Big, stupid tears. And I didn't want to make things any harder, so I tried to be totally cool and suave ("Like whatever, no biggie.") and make a swift exit. Except that somewhere in the midst of our epic hug, thirteen van cabs had pulled up around my car, and passengers were exiting and swarming around, blocking my escape route.

And, totally coincidentally, they happened to be Muslim women, draped in nijab. The irony was not lost on me - with The Gentleman flying off to Abu Dhabi and whatnot. 

I tripped very ungracefully into my car, trying not to look back, and had to sit, patiently, while the women unloaded their luggage from all of the van cabs. With The Gentleman still standing next to the car with his luggage.

It was so not cinematic.

When I finally was able to exit the Dulles drop-off zone, things deteriorated from there. I couldn't get Pandora to buffer properly and so my "pick me up" soundtrack (side-note, I also had a station ready to go for "slow motion, pulling away from the curb in the rain, eyes tearing slightly" in case that was the mood I wanted to cultivate) was not working. I missed an exit to 495 and ended up taking a nice little shortcut through downtown DC. I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for two hours when I finally got to 295. And, thanks to all of the stress and anxiety, I was experiencing what I'll politely term "GASTROINTESTINAL SOS."

It was pretty much the worst three hour drive ever.

I got back to Baltimore somewhere around 6pm, let myself in, and plopped facedown on my bed. 

Where I stayed until 9am the next morning.

I decided that was the only place I wanted to be. I made a fort of blankets and pillows, and broke my code of silence only to call Dominoes, Princess, and Lee (in that order). I watched "Easy A", because I fricking love Emma Stone and she can do no wrong. I may or may not have had a bottle of wine. I texted The Gentleman. I fell asleep before 11pm.

And then I woke up, and it was the next day. And the cats were behaving for once - curled up into nice little puddles of cat on my bed next to me. And I pushed off my Bed Fort, and I went to yoga. I made an egg white omelet. I cleaned my room. And such began Day One of my New Normal.

Since Saturday, we have exchanged countless emails, text messages, Gchats, and one hour of Google Voice Chat. We have an eight-hour time difference to maneuver, and we have 106 days until we will see each other again. 

But I only stayed in the Bed Fort for a night. Because now, we move forward. 

But seriously, that was one epically shitty drive.

(Not literally. I realize there might be some confusion, since I earlier cited that there had been some GASTROINTESTINAL SOS issues. But that was more stomach cramping than-  you know what? Never mind. I'm gonna let this one go.)

(I digressed again. Sorry.)

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