When a romance is over, it’s over. The problem according to Jackie Summers, is that no one ever evacuates Pompeii until the volcano erupts.
Q: How strong is Superman?
A: As strong as the story needs him to be.
You always know it’s over long before it actually ends. Still, no matter how much smoke is bellowing out of Mount Vesuvius, no one ever evacuates Pompeii until the volcano erupts.
There are 2,450 miles between New York City and Vancouver, Canada. This I know from the many expeditions I made to The People’s Republic of Canuckistan whilst dating Tatiana. So years later when I received an email on a popular dating website from a woman living in selfsame city, every vestige of common sense in me screamed: don’t respond. You’ve been here before, you know how this goes. Late night phone calls to make up for the time difference, celebrity cell phone bills, extended periods of enforced celibacy, sleepless nights wondering where someone is and who they might be with. And eventually, someone has to move.
Needless to say I ignored my instincts. And no one who gazed into Daphne’s sapphire eyes would have blamed me.
Distance notwithstanding, we became embroiled in a passionate love affair. Heated email exchange quickly escalated into long phone conversations. I will never forget picking her up from JFK airport the first time she flew to New York City to meet me. The golden tresses that bounced about her shoulders would have turned Rapunzel green with envy. I threw her over my shoulder caveman-style and carried her to my car.
The rest is a story for another time. Suffice it to say from that glorious whirlwind weekend we could not wait to find our way back into each other’s arms.
She resumed her life in the Great White North as I resumed mine in The Big Apple, and we agreed on mutual non-disclosure. “I’m here and you’re there” I said. “I wish you happiness” I told her with all sincerity “but not really. Do what you do but I have no desire to know.”
And so it went for almost a year: living separate lives, all the while falling deeper in love whist dating other people and traversing mountains to steal every moment we could with each other. This until the night that I was out on a date with a beautiful woman in my own city and realized I couldn’t hear a word she was saying over the sound of my heart screaming “go home, call Daphne.”
I knew I had a problem. When you feel that way about someone it’s pretty obvious (at least in my mind) what you should do about it.
The next month she had a girl’s weekend planned in Seattle. They’d made arrangements to stay at the W Hotel to attend a Prince concert. I planned to meet her there but not before adding my particular flair to the rendezvous. I called the concierge desk at the W and arranged for Godiva chocolates and Victoria’s Secret packages to be pre-delivered to her room, along with her favorite flowers: tulips. The problem as conveyed to me by the concierge was: tulips were out of season and thus, unavailable. Would roses, orchids, lilies or any other flower substitute?
“Absolutely not” I said. It had to be tulips. I was flying 2,450 miles to woo a woman, and I was not going to let a little thing like nature and perennial seasons get in my way. There was one option, according to the concierge. I could have tulips flown in. From France. Cue cartoon sound effect of cash registers ringing.
Needless to say I didn’t think twice about the expense. When you love like your life depends on it, such things are of minor consequence.
I am stupid enough to believe that every time I fall in love it will be the last time. At least I want it to be, which is how I can go from serial dater to exclusivity in a New York minute if someone extraordinary enters my world. For the next two years, the words of the Carthaginian general Hannibal dictated the terms of my romance: aut viam inveniam aut facial. So began one of the great love affairs of my life.
Clearly a story for another time. Unfortunately, love is not enough to sustain a relationship, just a good place to start, and a great reason to try.
In my heart I knew it was over the day she asked me to sleep on the other side of the bed. I have always slept on my left side, which means if I share my bed I’m either the outside spoon or face to face with my lover. The logistics of sleeping on the right side of the bed meant Daphne and I were sleeping back to back. Suddenly my lover felt more like my roommate. Vesuvius was rumbling; I squelched my instincts into the pit of my stomach and stayed fast.
One of the tricks to making long-distance (or any distance for that matter) relationships work is finding new and creative ways to stimulate your partner; to keep the routine from growing stale. As I knew Daphne loved Craigslist for antique sales and such, every now and then I’d post cryptic messages that only she and I would understand. In retrospect I should not have been surprised the day I discovered she’d posted a message in the personals for a male “tennis partner.”
I knew I had a problem. But some things you can’t discuss on the phone from 2,450 miles away. Some things you just need to say in person.
“As the administrator for your website, you know I have all of your passwords” I said at the first possible face-to-face opportunity. “You know I would never violate your privacy. But I was on Craigslist last week trying to leave you one of our secret messages. Before I ask you to open your email, is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
You will always find whatever it is you go looking for. Never ask questions you already know the answer to. When you know it’s over, exit gracefully. Don’t wait until Vesuvius covers you in two feet of molten lava and ash.
photo: firywynter on deviantart