Thursday, 29 September 2011

No more gasping for a breath

Breathe in; breathe out.
To the left, you see a copy of the chest X-ray I had during my visa medical. The nice people at the Knightsbridge Doctors send it back to you via the visa interview so that you have it for your medical records in the States, and during musings this week, it gave me an idea for a theme for this post. I was thinking last night about how hard it is to say goodbye, but this time in the context of Ben. The wrenching pain that comes over me when I try to remember farewells at Charlotte and Birmingham is a bit hard to bear, especially when trying to force the full technicolour version to write this properly. But I wanted to remember in written form why I am doing this, leaving, and saying goodbye to so many other things in order that I don't have to say goodbye to my husband-to-be again.

I'll start with leaving Charlotte. I have never, ever cried the way I cried then. I was in public, having to take three flights (CLT-ATL, ATL-DUB, DUB-LCY), and unable to control the way the tears coursed down my cheeks. I cried every time we took off, and every time we landed. Every single flight. I could barely find my way around the airport at Charlotte, and in Atlanta was unable to read my texts due to the unshed tears clouding my eyes. It was the most ridiculous thing I think I've ever experienced, and I didn't care. I was bereft, missing my heart, unable to cope with the reality of five months without Ben.

This may seem like a soppy exaggeration, or perhaps a sad indictment of a clearly soft-hearted person's inability to deal with the inevitable, or with reality. But the thing is, I'm actually quite "male" when it comes to emotion, normally! Ben is the exception to my usually forward-thinking, Filofax-brained cognition. I do not question me and Ben, we just are. This flies in the face of my neuroscience and evolution based education and beliefs. There isn't "the one" person for everyone, that just isn't possible. We mate to continue the species (and because we are therefore biologically rewarded for doing so), and marriage exists because of social convention, variances of which can be explained by cultural differences. But I am in love with a man who is the one for me, and I want to marry him because I want to be his wife. I am a human being, and I feel able to exist in this total contradiction of beliefs and actions - in fact, not just able, but more human because of this.

In Birmingham, saying goodbye after months of summer together and the night prior to Ben's flight spent trying to stay awake, eking out every last moment we had, was equally awful, though with a few extra fun things: we didn't know how long it would take for my visa to process (and so how long it would be until we were together again), had had so much time together we had become even closer, and I had to drive the 80 minute journey home alone, having just said goodbye to my love for goodness knew how long. I think the post I wrote just after Ben left pretty much covers the rest of how I felt, but I simply wanted to collapse. I felt winded, sick, and lost. I just wanted it to not be real.

This post is not meant to be an effort to convince myself of why I am going (and I don't think it comes across that way), but more so that I don't forget the intense difficulty of being apart from the one man to whom I am so inexorably connected. I am aware that we're two people, and the fact that love is a subjective thing. But I don't actually really care about that so much any more. You see, Ben is more than just a boy I fell in love with. He changed the world for me, and made it into something I had always wished for but never truly believed in. I can't explain what not being with him does to me. I will never be able to thank him enough, love him enough, have words enough to express just how magical life is with him in it.

Below is an excerpt from the speech I gave at our engagement party (yes, it was a bloody long speech! 9 minutes, if I remember rightly). This is the closest I've ever been to summing it up - sort of - as it's too hard to really explain, especially as a reformed cynic.

"Leah [our best 'man'] affectionately refers to you as "Harry", because of your likeness to the famous wizard of J.K. Rowling's imagination. Notwithstanding jokes about wands (or robes and hats, for that matter), I have to agree with your magical associations. You make me see the world anew, as though there is a light on it now that wasn't there before. It's not clearer, not warmer, even; I just know you're there – where the light is.

You once said to me that love is music. You’re right – and you are music... that's the best way I can describe how I feel about you. You're there, underlying, fundamental. You are there, exciting, exhilarating, evolving. There's a surge of joy, of understanding, of being that only comes from being with you, being in your presence and being yours. I have always been the sort of person for whom every occasion has a song. As it turns out, there is one song for every occasion in my life. The song is you. Your music illustrates, illuminates, adds to and makes life as it should be.

Put simply: I have never smiled the way I do when I am with you. I am so lucky, so excited, and so alive knowing that I get to spend my life with you. It will be really living. I can't even begin to start thanking you."

I'm also pretty sure that, on the day, it came out nothing like these carefully penned words; I was pretty emotional and - despite years of classroom teaching - unable to hold it together well enough to make my voice stop shaking and my eyes welling up. But this is what I meant to say. Being with Ben, being his, is as easy and as necessary as breathing to me.

I love you; take a right.


  1. There are all sorts of warning lights that go off in my brain when I write/think about the way I feel about Ben: I am hardly the worst off in the list of people missing their partners; I am lucky enough to live in a country where I am free to pursue any relationship I like, and have the means to do so; I know I am speaking from the cultural background of a white westerner; and so on. I'm even querying whether my neurotic side is winning by including this addendum, but there we are. Let's just say that I am a lucky, happy girl.

  2. I got through a couple paragraphs and had to stop. I'm going to have to read this in sections, I was feeling sick as I know too well how that feels. Saying goodbye to Vern is so painful, literally painful right in my chest. I wouldn't want anyone else to ever feel that way and alas so many people go through that very same experience. Our first time saying goodbye was in 2002, I cried on the train from Milwaukee to Chicago. Finally the conductor asked me if I was ok, he probably thought Vern was secretly punching me in the bathroom or something. Focus on your next hello kiss. That's what gets me through. :)

  3. I remember those sad airport goodbyes and I'm so glad I never have to do that again. I remember when I first flew to FL to meet Adam in December 04, I cried and cried on the way back. It was horrible. I flew back Jan 05 because I couldn't bare to be without him. The distance is not fun, yes you do adjust after some time but you know that everything would be better if he were with you. That joke would be so much funnier, that meal would taste so much better.
    One good thing about being apart is when you see each other again. The excitement and build up. The butterflies. It's like being together for the first time again. Less than 2 weeks and you'll be together again, never to part xx

  4. Kimberley: Sorry! I didn't mean for this to be upsetting. But I know that anyone who's walked away from their love at an airport, or watched their love walk through the departures gates and disappear, will find this quite hard to read. The literal physical pain definitely took me by surprise the first time; I had no idea my body could react like that. Definitely focusing on the next hello. Hopefully that will be the last one that isn't an after-work or good-morning kiss... This should be it now. :)

  5. Shermeen: I didn't realise you'd gone back so quickly! That's amazing. I know I would have gone back to NC in the Jan had I been able to. Life is definitely that much better when sharing it with Ben, actually with him, without a doubt.

    While I agree with you about the butterflies and the excitement about being together again, I actually really love the normality of just sitting reading with Ben, or making breakfast together. That's what I'm really looking forward to. Being able to be together because *that's* the norm. :)

    Two weeks or so for you too! :) Bet you can't wait. xx

  6. Oh what a lovely post! <3 :)
    And I say that even if I'm still a cynic! ;)


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.