Awaiting Vesuvius

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.

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photo: firywynter on deviantart

About Jackie Summers

Jackie Summers is an author and entrepreneur. His blog F*cking in Brooklyn chronicles his quest to become a person worthy of love. His company, Jack From Brooklyn, Inc. houses his creative and entrepreneurial enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @jackfrombkln and friend him on Facebook


  1. Maybe try mutual non-monogamy. There are all kind of different relationship styles out there. Getting married and staying that way for 60 years is not the only option anymore. Love your work by the way.

  2. Uzi Peretz says:

    One of my best mates is stuck in a 25 year marriage. It’d be okay if he didn’t love her but he hardly even likes her anymore. They married young, grew apart and never had much in common (you know; the usual;).

    When both people are too scared to leave, the relationship really is like a volcano and they all erupt eventually.

    Good story! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. I agree with this post. Never wait until it’s too late to take a step back. But then again, it’s never really “too late” just another lesson learned.

    One thing I didn’t think was necessary: going through her email. Yes the two of you lived miles apart, but to have that need to invade your partner’s personal space, I think that’s too much.

    • Michael says:

      I was left after 17 years of marriage to a woman who had an affair with someone, communicating often on email while she ignored our children and maintained an air of “nothing is wrong.” Sometimes privacy is overrated when considered against deceit.

      Is it really everyone’s right to lie? I should have every opportunity to be with someone else if my partner has decided to do so, rather than it being kept a secret so one of us is honest and picking up clues, feeling consciously or sub-consciously uneasy, while the other is having an affair, and hiding the truth.

  4. Perhaps it’s because you know that sometimes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive Vesuvius?

    My partner and I survived our first eruption about five years in. We’ve weathered two more since then. We just celebrated our 13th anniversary, and I do not anticipate a breakup in our future.

    I hope you find someone with whom you can weather the eruptions, because I personally believe that’s the key to lasting happiness.

  5. pillowinhell says:

    That’s a very well written story, wish it could have had a better ending for you though….any thoughts on why people need to see a relationship to the bitter end though?

    • Pillow, I’ve many, many thoughts on why people–why I–hold on until the last. A subject for another day perhaps? It’s too complex to explore in a comment.


  6. This was a well-told story. If only you’d met someone living closeby for whom you felt moved to fly in tulips from France! (Although I think that’s setting the relationship bar pretty high for both of you).

  7. “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?”

    Huh? Didn’t you agree on “mutual non-disclosure”? Isn’t it her prerogative to have something else going on on the side if that’s what you agreed upon? And how do you just discover this posting without actually browsing the casual encounters or platonic sections of craigslist yourself?

    • Reread; by this time we’d been mutually exclusive for over two years.


      • Sorry, it just wasn’t clear from what you had written; I took “from serial dater to exclusivity” to mean that you simply stopped dating other people, not that the two of you sat down and renegotiated the terms of your relationship.

        But really, how did you just happen to get lost on Craigslist and go from “antiques” all the way to “misc romance” without being suspicious or skeptical about the state of your relationship? If it’s that your partner posted the ad using an email that you had access to, then it doesn’t seem like she was trying to cuckold you so much as get you to be the one to end the relationship.

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