Most days it is endless conversations in front of the flickering computer screen, covering everything from the translation and voice-over policies of news stations to the nature of love and human connection. Meals, coffee, desserts shared, naps taken, laughs and whispers soaked up greedily. Even when we merely make do, it is more than many people have in a lifetime. We are blessed and grateful.
Sometimes it is being jealous of his mirror, because it gets to see his face in the morning. Or his work clothes, because they get to wrap around him for an entire day. I wonder if the bank clerks and post masters know what greatness they are dealing with when he comes in and says “Hi.”
Sometimes it is a day spent without, reading and re-reading letters, turning over photographs, and rubbing your face in his T-shirt like a dog. And counting the speech mannerisms that we have exchanged like fluids, such as “a day spent without.” I have started to say things like “close proximity,” “since the beginning of time,” and “nation of two.” He has started blowing raspberries at the world when it pisses him off and saying “I love you” in my language.
Sometimes it is waking up at a strange hour for a strange reason, only to find out he was struggling with something at the very same time across the ocean. Other times, more difficult times, he materializes next to me as my soporific body desperately roams night corridors, and gently touches my shoulder. His chronotope is six hours and a hundred degrees of longitude behind mine. Standing guard. Won’t let me fall.
Not a day goes by that I do not see his name on my screen or a piece of paper, and I am reminded of what Russian Formalists meant by остранение. If I did not have the photographs and the letters, I swear that there are moments when I would wonder if I might not be the object of some hilarious cosmic dissimulation. This other, this foreigner is now my soul mate. He says that he always was. I will not change my name because I am who I am, but I already know that in my heart of hearts I will be “Mrs. G.” This love is something else, I tell you.
I have written about heartache and emotional fumbling. I have written about parts of me that I could not be less proud of. I have exchanged private notes with many of you who knew exactly what I was talking about, and on top of it were so beautifully generous in sharing your own insights with me. Thank you. I wrote about a new love overtaking everything I knew, and I will continue to write about the missing that fills the spaces between, that makes up this anatomy of longing. Life is such a gorgeously messy little spectacle.