Will I Ever See You Again, Will I?

Rick Springfield’s “Will I?”

The tension was palpable and made us quieter and more introspective than we had been for his entire visit.  As I turned my car off of the highway and onto the exit for Metro Airport that weekday afternoon, I felt a mixture of apprehension, fear and worry.

I should have been positive.  Overall, our three weeks together had been amazing, a gift of a second chance with Ray that I had never anticipated.  I had been lucky enough to see that he hadn’t ended up forever that teenage boy driven seemingly solely by his hormones; he’d grown into a thoughtful, hardworking, serious but fun loving man.  He was strong and made me feel safe in a way I’d never imagined possible considering our history.  I was wearing his ring on my finger and his promises were loud in my ears.

But my ever present insecurity and low self esteem couldn’t possibly accept that we would be riding off into a marital sunset next year as if none of the bad stuff had ever happened.  I started, as I had with Joe two years ago, asking for details.  Questions.  Lots of them.  What was his new address?  He didn’t know yet.  How would I get in touch with him?  He would call when he got settled (again, this was in the days before cell phones).  When would I see him again?  We would have to plan a trip down for me in a month or so.  Would he write me letters?  Of course he would.

I could sense in myself the fear of the self fulfilling prophecy.  I’d hesitated to jump back into a relationship with Ray for fear of being hurt.  But eventually, his smile and words and love had pulled me in towards him.  In the end, I jumped feet first into the pool as he’d made it look ever so inviting.  But now I was afraid he was swimming too far away for us to stay connected.

Plus, I could see the slightest change in him since our visit to his parents.  They reminded him of his responsibilities to his previous girlfriend, a girl they’d met on a visit to Germany and liked.  And perhaps they also admonished him about his previous behavior towards me in the past, something that perhaps a girl who had a child now could possibly withstand twice.  I’ll never know what exactly went on and was said between Ray and his parents during that visit.  But our last night together felt more like he was trying to place me in a warm, safe spot in his memory than the sweet, forward looking vibe he’d been  putting out prior to their conversation.

We were both quiet as he checked in, checked his bag (I can’t even remember what town he flew into in Georgia; maybe Savannah) and walked towards his gate.  I could feel the emotion bubbling right at the surface with every turn.  Ray held my hand as we walked down the endless corridors, thinking things that he wasn’t saying.  I asked him, “What are you thinking?” but his responses were short, noncommittal and gave me few answers.   My worry only increased as the time for his departure grew near.

Finally, the boarding was called for his flight.   I remember that he waited until the final call was made, and then he kissed me.  A sweet, long, goodbye kiss that tried to reassure me and take away the tears that were already falling down my face.  He waved before he disappeared down the jetway.  And then he was gone.

I waited at the window, watching as the doors closed to the plane, as it pulled away from the airport.  I stood there, as the crowd dispersed, mesmerized, unable to leave the space until I knew he was all the way gone, up in the air.  I wasn’t able to be the first to leave.  It reminded me of the game Ray and I used to play on the telephone:  Who Will Hang Up First.  And we’d spend five minutes just trying to say goodbye because neither one of us wanted to be the one who hung up first, leaving the other with just a cold click on the end of the line.  I wasn’t going to hang up first, I thought as I watched the plane lumber towards the runway.  I was going to be the last on the line here.

And as I slowly walked away from the window after watching his plane become airborne, I could feel it.  That cold, hard click.  It was as if the long string that had connected us over these last months, over time and space, all of the things that we’d shared…I could somehow feel it snap that day.  I felt so utterly disconnected from him after he left.  I wasn’t sure why.  The tears became so fast flowing I couldn’t see anymore.  The emotion welled up into angry sobs that wouldn’t stay down or be quiet.  I ran for the nearest bathroom and cried harder than I ever had in my life.   I cried so hard that it physically hurt, that my face stung from the salty tears that stayed there for too long.  He was gone, and I had no way of knowing when or how I would hear from him again.

The only evidence I had that he’d been here at all was the ring on my finger.  I looked down at it for reassurance about fifty times on the long drive home.

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