Diary: How Do You Say Hello & Goodbye at the Airport? is the story of Chris and I starting our year-long long-distance relationship (LDR) after we first met. Are you in an LDR, or have you been in the past? How was it supportive or challenging? Please share in the comments below!
Diary: How Do You Say Hello & Goodbye at the Airport? LDR w a Fisherman.
“I don’t do long-distance,” I said, staring at my bedroom ceiling post third date. I’ve done a long-distance relationship before, and it ended in heartbreak. And now a lunch, a movie, and two dinners later, we stood on the edge of someone getting hurt. (A.k.a. Me.)
“We either need to cut it off now or…,” I said, struggling with the rational part of my brain.It was my attempt to detach after realizing his temples, cheeks, and forehead made fascinating landing spots for my lips.
“Or,” he continued, drawing me close to kiss behind my ear, “we take it day-by-day.”
I felt the warm knot in my chest melt to my limbs. It’s too late, I thought. I’m a goner. I sat up to get a better look at him. To search for a gut feeling that this guy may be full of it.
But nope. Nothing.
Only a voice in my head telling me to trust this one, that he’s safe.
“Ok,” I sighed, giving in. “Let’s take it day-by-day.”
That was the moment our love story began – the first step in the mating dance of dating a commercial fisherman from the Pacific Northwest and a writer living on the California coast.
Dating long-distance is hard, but we make it work. Phone calls, texts, and Face Times fill the days until one of us can travel the twelve hundred miles between.
But after a while, the dance becomes routine, and monotony sets in.
The excitement of making plans and exchanging “see you soons” slumps into finding time off work, buying plane tickets, and trudging through LAX more than you’d like.
And today, I’m in my car at a place I’ve been a dozen times before – idling on the corner of Ninety-Second and Sepulveda, popping an Altoid, and clearing the passenger seat for my lover to reside.
But this time, I wonder if the hassle is worth it.
It’s interesting to date a person who lives in a different town.
It can act as sort of a goldfish-in-a-bag experience in a relationship. A way to settle into a partnership while sustaining an independent life. You go about your day with work, friends, and whatever else, knowing there’s someone to connect with later that night.
Then, after weeks apart, butterflies unleash in your stomach as the day nears to reunite with your love. So, you buy their favorite snacks of dried mangos and chocolate, put fresh sheets on your cozy double-size bed, and straighten the house from days of deciding what to wear.
Soon, you’ll make your way towards the airport on the PCH. But as you round the corner at Point Mugu, the tingles in your belly appear, and you become a little nervous. Instantly, the questions begin:
Have our feelings changed after all this time?
Will I feel the same way about him?
How will he see me?
At long last, you reach LAX and navigate through anxious traffic towards the terminal. Your face flushes with heat when you catch sight of him through the crowd. You barely have the car in park before scrambling out to savor your first embrace. You pull back and take in his tired, smiling eyes, run your fingers through his long hair, and feel the scruff of his unshaven face. Then, you kiss, and the world only lovers know becomes yours again.
Now the fun begins.
You fill the days with handheld walks on the beach, hiking, and homemade Thai dinners while doing your best to ignore the imaginary clock ticking away moments until you have to say goodbye.
Then, just like that, it’s time. Time to make your way back to the terminal for departing flights.
The butterflies that once occupied your stomach days earlier morph into a giant lump in your throat. Sucking back tears as your car edges towards Point Mugu, Venice, then LAX, they squeeze your hand because they feel it, too. You shrug your shoulders to say, “What else can we do?”
The car behind me lays on its horn, jerking me out of my daydream and urging me towards the exit for arriving flights. I can almost feel him waiting for me. Creeping closer and closer, I spot him. Shoulders relaxed, hands in pockets. He looks even better than I remember. The butterflies return, and thoughts of doubt surrounding the long-distance struggle disappear.
I pull to the curb, shift the car into park, fling the door open, and step into his arms. Finally, with our faces inches away, we pause for a smile before that long-awaited kiss as he brushes my hair off my face and tells me how much I am missed.
And just like that, we settle into us. And continue to dance right where we left off. 🐟
Are you in an LDR, or have you been in the past? How was it supportive or challenging? Please share in the comments below!
If you liked Diary: How Do You Say Hello & Goodbye at the Airport? LDR w a Fisherman, you’d love “Meet Cute” about the moment Chris and I met. (Chris is known as “Jason” in this story, originally written for the I Heart column.)
Photo of LAX: Ryan Miller for Unsplash.