I do things knowing I soon will be unable - holding her tighter, kissing her more, succumbing to our bed yet again. I will be alone on my weekends, left with nothing but the ability to sleep in to distinguish a Saturday from a Wednesday. It makes everything feel so precious, instantly placed in a long context. I am aware that Melanie and I are making the memories that I will revisit for the next three months while my lips keep fallow.
It's hard not to fall into romantic clichés, like that the sunlight lacks some of its flavor because I know how soon I will be spending it outside her brightness. Everything is prettier and, even as it forces bliss to my lips every time I step outside, I also feel a growing resentment. I can never fully love summer until Melanie doesn't have to leave my arms when the mercury hits 90, her fairy godmother insisting she abide this restriction or be left in rags. Last summer, cloistered away from society at the boarding school from which I had resigned, waiting out the next step in my life, I was miserable. I didn't blame or credit Melanie with my angst. I had a lot of personal work to finish, something which is much less necessary this year. And, while I loved Melanie, that attachment was a speck compared against my current ardor. For those who have spent even a little time in our company, this comes as no surprise. She has been pared down, from "the one I am with every weekend who I love" to simply being "the one".
I comment that I can handle this because I have so much experience having my partner across the ocean from me for the summer. Only the last few iterations of this excuse have rung hollow behind the joke. I'm genuinely not codependent with Melanie and I will deal with this summer apart, even enjoy it, because that is the paradigm I am presented. I am very comfortable on my own, having thrilled at the prospect of my apartment escape, away from children and sweet upstairs neighbors whose laundry room I paid to occupy. But, more than simply being a lovely part of my schedule, weekends with Melanie gave me something to recalibrate my week by. I worked counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until next we kissed, especially once she had to nix our mid-week diner dates to focus more intently on her studies. I don't want to do without her, but this time abroad is not my adventure, not until my career becomes a great deal more portable (hopefully because some company buys We Shadows).
I preemptively begin missing her, even the tiny things that might annoys other people but which I relish, like having to close the bag to prevent the further staleness of the off-brand Lucky Charms I buy only to accommodate her Saturday morning sweet tooth, picking up the dozens of tissues scattered around my bed, watching her shower from head to toe before feeling a droplet of hot water myself, or rehiding various sexual accoutrements that have been summoned forth between Friday night and (if I'm lucky) Sunday afternoon. It feels trite to say it, but most every weekend is a little better than the one that came before and I always love her more by Sunday.
I began my relationship with Melanie knowing full well that she would be spending three months away from the shores of the Hudson; this was a precondition to falling in love with her, which I did with utter abandon because I accept no other way. This summer is the same, swapping Japan for France. Next summer, fates willing, she will be spending it mucking about with nature in Tivoli, a bit over an hour from where I currently live. And, if I have any say in the matter, I will be there to wash nematodes and bdelloid rotifers out of her hair as often as she needs.
We've made a silent agreement that we will save our thoughts of her exodus for the last possible moment, that we won't start crying for fear that we won't stop until she is properly back in Ohio. She grows sadder on her drive back to Bard, only an hour's distance between us, because she has to leave the part of her life where she feels most comfortable with the only person who comes close to really understanding and accepting her as she wants to be. If she had her choice, I think we could already be living together, save for the fact that the requirements of life pull us in different directions.
I spoke about all this with Dan, Keilaina's husband, and he asked if we were "going to do the long distance thing", perhaps not aware we did it last summer as well. The question struck me because it was so far from a question I have to ask myself. If she suggested she were spending six months abroad, we would certainly have to have a long, tearful conversation that would be far more an engagement than a breakup. Beyond that, there is no problem beyond the chasm of missing her, save that the flurry of gnats darting at the amber streetlight in front of a Byzantium sunset will not be beautiful enough until she is there to see it with me.
Soon in Xenology: When I was a girl. Jealousy.