I wanted to be there—in person. Holding her hand, taking her to dinner, feeling her big spoon. I wanted to get in my car and drive through the night, just to fall asleep next to her.
Sending her a gift in the mail wasn’t enough.
Video chatting while she got ready to go out for her birthday with someone else just wasn’t enough.
But she was half a world away, in the pines, which was all I was left with until she returned.
The hard pines.
I was having a difficult time living without her. It was almost as hard, I would one day learn, as living with her.
And as she spoke—about people I did not know, adventures I would not have, I watched; her eyes, her lips. I couldn’t tell if it filled me with an overwhelming joy, or a divine longing and sadness.
And this is where the hard pines are bred. It goes beyond longing, to the point of heartache, with little moments of rapture in the mix.
I suppose I was still the loneliest man she’d ever kissed.
We had only just begun; did she run away out of fear? Was it her conscience, the pressure, or had I simply called her bluff?
For all I know, a simple lyric from a song could have done it; she was easily influenced—by nearly everything.
She called it a search for destiny; for a sign from the universe. She hadn’t lived long enough to learn just how indifferent the universe really is.
It’s a narcissism reserved for the folly of inexperience and those that somehow stay lost, regardless of time.
It justifies every bad choice they make.
But she reassured me I was the only one. The way she looked at me—into me—as she said it allowed me to believe, for just a moment, that I wasn’t just another one. Regardless of my gut feeling or my ability to read people, a talent I tried to reserve for my day job.
I liked to believe I used my powers for good, rather than evil. Even if it was a mild form of public manipulation. At least in advertising, we didn’t try to kid ourselves. We embraced it, rather than ignore it or justify it. In advertising, we were at least accountable for our work.
But I digress. Blinking lights.
She was half a world away, and I was on the other side. Deep down, I had a feeling that even if she hadn’t gone looking for the universe—even if she were in my arms, she would never really be here.
I just had to ignore it.