In a few short hours you will get on a transport. Even though it is only for R&R, even though the days will fly by and you will have to leave again, you will still be here. Home. Over the course of the next agonizingly long day we will be making banners and smiling and jumping up and down in anticipation.
But last night was calm and quiet. Last night I could feel you being here so strongly that I closed my eyes and hugged myself, wrapped my hands tightly around the curve of my own shoulders, and squeezed myself into believing in a false reality. I was sprawled out in our bed watching the sunset, remembering a similar evening I spent shortly after you left. The sunsets always do that to me – make me sit still and think. Make me sit still and feel.
Resting there it was so quiet that I could hear myself breathing, the inward draw sweeping up the clutter in my brain, the outward push coming from deep inside me, expelling it all out in a cathartic sigh. And again. And again. Soon it was easy to imagine that it wasn’t my own soft, deep breaths. It was simple to believe that my legs, crossed at the ankles, were really ours, tangled and resigned. It was transporting to realize that the air moving around me was light and easy, like the movement of another person in the room.
Out the picture window I stared motionless at the Northwest summer sun. It dropped indolently down past the hills, as the sky glowed and the radiance of light seemed to push the clouds higher and farther away. My face was warm, washed with light, and I felt almost as if. As if…
The clouds transitioned slowly, effortlessly, from cream to honey to peach, and eventually as the light drew down, the sinewy cloud scrolls bunched up and settled on a final color, a deep eggplant backlit with a glittery reflection of unknown color altogether. I heard you protest that it was merely white or pink or purple, and that colors should not be named after foods. I broke the silence, laughing at you, and I startled myself.
I watched as the sun plunged down over the horizon, and in those last moments of light I imagined each dwindling ray of slipping off my scene and jumping onto yours, half way around the world. I thought about how we were connected, in that moment, by a sun that was straddling between our two worlds, even if only for a short time. Even if I was fighting the urge to fall asleep and you were in that restless place in the early morning just as the sun comes up.
And I cried.
Because the two worlds we are living in are infinitely more distant than seven thousand miles or a pixellated internet connection or time delays or extreme climate fluctuations. The two worlds we are living in are desperately farther apart than I have chosen to think about.
Now you’re coming home. Now it matters. Now idealism and patriotism and bravery and steadfastness don’t just sound like words to me. Now I don’t want to be strong or understanding or mature or patient. Now I imagine what you’ve been doing, or try to, and I realize I will never know much more than my imagination can provide. Now I process what I would do, if it were me. And now I think about what that means.
You definitely aren’t staring wistfully at a sunrise somewhere.
I’ve been reading the emails you wrote early on, the ones where you shared with me your impressions, your feelings, and your thoughts. Because I can’t find you in your recent emails, the ones that are only ten words long. The ones that state things but do not describe them. The ones with polite sentiments and a well-mannered official responses to specific questions. The ones that volunteer nothing. The ones I read over and over for a hint of something I’ve missed.
And then I smile. Chuckle, even. Because I realize how much this will be like another first date. Because I realize I am anticipating just who it is that is that will show up on my doorstep. And I’m not quite sure yet, but I think it will be something like the day you came to see me, standing on my parents’ front perch on a sweet summer day in Coronado. The day you finally got the nerve to call me, but got my father on the phone. The day when you showed up in your aviator glasses and your flight jacket on your motorcycle and took my breath away. Forever.
And then I laugh again thinking that as the days of your visit go on, it will be like that first motorcycle ride to La Jolla, the one where I held on to you like you were familiar, even though you weren’t yet. The one where we each had helmets on and couldn’t speak, but communicated in smiles and nods, and understood each other. The one where I tried to look calm and collected even though I was scared and clumsy. The one where you pretended not to notice how scared and clumsy I was, but knew all along. The one where you had a route, knew exactly where you were going, and I was going with you, wherever that was.
Hurry home. I will only watch one more sunset without you …