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Love at a Distance
She stared across the table, still in disbelief. After nearly a year and a half apart and a seemingly endless stretch of over three hundred miles, he now sat right in front of her. Sixteen months of phone calls, waiting, and not really having a clue as to what comes next. Three hundred miles of dull, monotonous pavement occupied with fears and anxieties of what may come… but then there he was, face to face, no longer just a voice distorted through miles and miles of wires. They had tried finding ways to see each other before, yet time and time again they failed. But not this time. By some miracle, their plans finally pulled through. And here they were.
Over sushi and mixed feelings, their conversation flowed effortlessly; it was as if no time had passed at all. They traveled back in time to before they had to part ways, before the pain and the heart ache and the confusion. She laughed to herself, recalling how nervous she had been just hours ago, fearing that too much had changed over the time they were apart, that things would be different, that their comfortable relationship had weakened in its attempt to travel the distance between them.
“What?” he asks. “What are you laughing at?”
“Nothing,” she replies. “Nothing at all.”
The two explored the sights and sounds of Westwood, a college town surrounding the campus of the University of California in Los Angeles. They walked dangerously close to each other, and her hand accidentally brushed against his. Blushing, she crossed her arms in front of her, afraid that another touch might send her heart racing right out of her chest. She sighed a breath of relief when he asked if she would care for a drink; her hands graciously accepted the warm cup, glad to have something to occupy themselves with.
Finally, the two settle down outside a quaint coffee shop. They sat and talked about all kinds of things: their families, their friends, their hopes and dreams, their futures. They imagined their future together, mapped out the course of their lives as if they had it all figured out, as if they were invincible to time and to change. They reminisced on the summer they spent together, the nights they walked down the road to La Jolla Shores and sat on the cold sand as they watched the stars glisten above them. They laughed as they relived the night that they snuck out of their rooms and climbed to the top of the stone bleachers; it was their last night together, and they eventually found themselves in the backseat of a policeman’s car.
“Yeah, and it was your fault, too! You were all, ‘Let’s do something crazy!’” she said.
“Hey, you were the one who insisted we recreate the scene from The Notebook, not me. It definitely wasn‘t my fault.”
She hit his arm playfully. “I never would have brought that up in the first place if you didn’t go all daredevil on me. And then the freaking cop showed up!”
“Ahhh, that was so crazy!”
“You have no idea! I was on the verge of crying. When I saw the car, I swear my heart dropped to my stomach. It was insane.”
As he excused himself to take a phone call, she took the opportunity to take a good look at him. She realized that things have changed over their time apart; they were no longer the same two kids who foolishly wore their hearts on their sleeves and flew through the summer hand-in-hand. And yet, as he made his way back to where she was seated, everything, she realized, was still the same.
Their hours together quickly turn into minutes. The easy, fun, and even flirtatious conversation soon turns tense with the knowledge of a furiously ticking clock awaiting them. There are moments of every life in which those ticking hands move all too quickly; the moment passes just as soon as it came. This was one of them. There was so much left to say, and yet neither had the ability nor the courage to speak them.
“I don’t want you to go,” he says.
She looked at him and the memories come flooding back all at once, from the day they first met to the pain she felt when they were apart. The two had picked up right where they left off: two young and naïve teenagers with a burning desire to call each other home. She knew this night couldn’t last forever. It would soon be time to say goodbye yet again. She couldn't bear the thought of waiting another six, twelve, eighteen months before they could have their time again, but she learned that the pain to be endured would be worth it. She grabbed his hand in hers, the simple action saying everything that she wishes she could.
“I don’t want to go either.”