The Myth of You & Me

Sean and I have a long history of goodbyes. We've said them everywhere: in airport lounges, in the driveways of each other's houses, in Amtrak stations, and in cars. We've said them when we were in love, when we were breaking up, when we were doing something between being in love and breaking up that I think we called "still kind of...you know, not really together, definitely seeing other people," but that still somehow warranted us catching planes across continents to see each other.

I met him when I was sixteen. Sixteen! Do you know how weird that is? I HAD BRACES. And also jeans from J.C. Penney, which I wasn't embarassed about. We met at the beach in Connecticut and I think my first words to him were "uh...here," when his hackysack (hackysack! How 1996 is that?) bounced over into my direction, and I tossed it back to him. I was in love with him from the very first second I saw him. But he was 20, and far too old for me, and it took me several more trips to the beach before we even had a conversation. At the end of the summer, right before I was due to go back to boarding school, we found ourselves at the same party. We did all the silly flirty things that people pretend they're not doing when they're flirting, like swapping shoes and punching each other. But that was the extent of it, because he had a girlfriend at the time. AND DID I TELL YOU I WAS SIXTEEN? With braces?

Needless to say, I had a crush on him for the next two years. We were only ever friends but we saw each other when I was home in Connecticut for the holidays, and in the time between, we wrote letters. Like, the real kind with stamps and stuff. This was before the Internet, before Instant Messenging, before all the 10-10 numbers and the cheap transatlantic phone plans. We wrote letters. And I kept them all.

When I was 18 and home in Connecticut for the summer, I wrote him another letter --- and in this one I told him exactly how I felt about him.

I was sick of the long telephone conversations that led us nowhere, the embarassment of mailing him lyrics and not knowing how he took them, the obsessing and the crushing and the going crazy with it all. I'm fairly sure I thought he was Jordan Catalano and I was Angela Chase. I wrote awful poetry about him and cried in the way you can only cry when you're 18 and you've just read Sylvia Plath for the first time. I made my mother read the letter first and then she drove me to his house to put it in his mailbox. And then that night I had to go and see my sister Susie and my brother Luke in an amateur production of Mary Poppins. I've never hated Mary Poppins so much in my life. (By the way, Susie was Mr. Banks. Yes, MISTER, I said. She wore a fake mustache. But she was awesome. Luke was too, though he sang in a very high-pitched voice and wore a red pajama suit. Because he was Michael Banks. SUSIE WAS HIS FATHER.)

Sean called the next day. He felt the same way. There was a multi-hour phone conversation, many confessions, and a whole chunk of my diary that was taken up with recounting the whole thing (with way, way too many exclamation points.) Our first date was to see G.I. Jane. (Excellent choice on that one, Sean, a real first date movie.) He nearly drove us into oncoming traffic, because we were looking at some fireworks. And we were so nervous. We dated for a year, and then we broke up when I went to university in London. And then we had a weird two years, where we saw other people and professed not to be together anymore, but both made several trips to see each other in different countries anyway. There were so many goodbyes in those two years. And I never knew how to feel about them.

During my last year of university, we decided we wanted to be together. Exclusively. It was a relief --- I was entangled with a stockbroker who was too short and who lived in Notting Hill and whom I didn't really like enough. I'd only ever wanted Sean anyway. We dated long distance for a year, visiting each other at every opportunity. The airport departure lounge became the saddest place in the world.

In 2002, right after I'd graduated from university in London, I moved to San Diego to live with him. I arrived in California with 11 boxes of stuff. We left for Charleston, six months later, after he was transferred there for a job, with a whole U-haul full of belongings. There were more than 11 boxes---there were hundreds and hundreds. I didn't know how I'd accumulated so much so fast.

Tomorrow I'm saying goodbye to him again. It's only for two weeks but it's still another goodbye. I'm saying it to my brilliant, talented, kind, sweet, and hottie boombalottie Sean, who always waves for as long as he can from the departure gate. And who only stops waving when he can't see me anymore.

1
Julie
Dec 16, 2005

That was lovely. It sounds like you guys have something incredibly special that transcends space and time. I can really understand, having spent two years of engagement living on separate continents and two years of marriage with 100 miles between us. It is excruciating to say goodbye, and the mental picture of Sean waving at the departure gate conjures up lots of memories for me as well.

Safe travels and happy holidays to you.

2
Porter
Dec 16, 2005

That's amazing. I just found your site, and it's wonderful. Did I mention that I'm sixteen, and that I seem to have some strange and tortured bond with my 25-year-old tennis coach? You give me hope!

3
Lissa
Dec 16, 2005

It seems like you both have something very special and I hope you both are very happy for a long time. I honestly long for something like that and I can't wait till it arrives on my doorstep.

4
Susie
Dec 16, 2005

I was going to extend on the hilarious time he babysat me, but I'll save that for another day. But I will say this: MR BANKS WAS A DEMANDING PART THAT CALLED FOR DISCIPLINE AND...SINGING!! And I don't mean to make your night of watching your favourite people in the world perform Mary Poppins any worse, but I actually don't remember you being there. Perhaps because MENTALLY you weren't there. Or perhaps my moustache was in my eyes...

5
Luke
Dec 16, 2005

I was young, I was allowed to sing in falsetto! Can't explain the pajamas though.

6
ap
Dec 16, 2005

Oh, I got me a little tear in my eye! I know how you feel.

7
samantha
Dec 16, 2005

Could I fall in love with you a little bit more? Yes, yes I could! What a lovely tribute to your Sean - and I think, mostly because I've never had to go through it, I'm sure - that goodbyes in airport terminals are terribly romantic.

Have a very safe and extremely fun trip! Traveling mercies, which definitely includes lots of vodka.

8
Nancy
Dec 16, 2005

That was a really beautiful love letter. You both sound very lucky to have each other.

I actually met my husband in 1992 when I was 16, he was 20, it was long distance from the get-go and on-off-through KC-DC, NY-DC, NY-SF, Edinburgh-SF, Boston-SF, Boston-Dallas. Unfortunately, it means he can tease me about that time when I was 17 and dyed my hair black and wore t-shirts that said, "nobody knows I'm punk rock" but it's wonderful to be with someone who so deeply knows the ins and outs.

Have you ever read the William Carlos Williams poem, the Ivy Crown? "We will it so, and so it is past all accident."

Have a very happy and safe trip!

9
Mir
Dec 16, 2005

Wow. Just... wow.

I'm jealous. In a good way.

10
Dave
Dec 16, 2005

True love, what a wonderful subject and story. You are a very talented and entertaining writer.
Charlston is one of my favorite cities. I used to often stop at the Lodge Alley Inn.
Have a good trip and just keep the vodkas coming.

11
Emily
Dec 16, 2005

There's just something about being with someone you've known since you were young and awkward. (Besides all the things you can make fun of them for.) It is so nice to have memories of my youth that are shared with my husband, who is still my favorite person in the world. I know just how you must feel! And you penned it beautifully.

12
Sheryl
Dec 16, 2005

That is just so so sweet. I'm all verklempt.

13
terrell
Dec 16, 2005

Ok, you just made me cry. And I'm at work.

Thanks for the beautiful post.

14
coolbeans
Dec 16, 2005

All of this is drippy and sappy and sweet and syrupy. I love it. Good for you both. Have a safe and happy trip, Holly.

15
Eulallia
Dec 16, 2005

Oh, that was HEARTBREAKING!

16
Gretchen C.
Dec 16, 2005

I am a sucker for this type of thing, because I still feel that way about my husband. We seldom spend a night apart, but when we do, neither of us can sleep because of the missing piece. I wish you a lifetime of happy reunions.

17
DM
Dec 17, 2005

This was completely beautiful. I hope for this someday.

18
lizardek
Dec 17, 2005

Delurking to say...thank you, that was simply lovely :)

19
Liz
Dec 17, 2005

This is a lovely post...one that many can connect with.

It's funny because in 2002, just 4 months after meeting the man who is now my husband, we packed up all of our stuff in a UHaul and schlepped it from Charleston, SC to Newport Beach, CA and lived there for 2 years before we had to move to Baltimore for family reasons.

Have a nice trip. Love your site and writing style.

20
roo
Dec 18, 2005

Awww.

21
jes
Dec 18, 2005

My. I just read that entire post, and yes, so sweet. But after seeing the last picture, I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS SAID HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE, OR THAT SEEING YOU MAKES THEM (ME) WISH FOR PROMINENT CHEEKBONES AND POUTY LIPS.

CAN YOU JUST STOP IT WITH THE BEAUTY? AND THE HAIR? AND THE EYEBROWS? AND THE CHEEKBONES? AND THE LIPS? AND THE JAWLINE? AND THE CHIN? YOU ALWAYS LOOK SO DAMN PERFECT.

And now I must go, lest I continue to rant about that last picture of you instead of the sappy-sweetness of this post. Because I love both, and there just isn't enough room for me to rant about both.

Enjoy your time with your family in Singapore!

22
misfithausfrau
Dec 19, 2005

What a wonderful love story. I'll have to write about mine someday, although it's not nearly as exciting. We had a one-night stand as we were dating others. And then we got married after he gave me the WORST proposal ever. Hmmm, I am now inspired to write all about it!

23
Celina
Dec 19, 2005

What a great story! Hubby and I met in 97, started dating in 99, married in 2004....Happily Ever After does happen! Best wishes and a sincere Thanks for sharing your story!

24
Nancy
Dec 20, 2005

My now husband and I had a long distance relationship too, and those goodbyes at the airport really sucked. The upside was that complete and utter excitement to see him when I got there. My stomach would be doing flips and when I saw his face as I exited the gate, my heart would just soar. You take the good with the bad, I guess.

25
anna
Dec 21, 2005

I can’t believe you left the knee brace out!! Surely that’s the ONLY story really worth telling. Wasn’t there a very important bicycle involved?? “Tell him you want to go on a cycle trail” … wasn’t it something like that? I know I’m probably not remembering it right. It was, as you say, a long time ago. Though I was probably 17, and never had braces. I do remember bits and pieces however and I think I deserve a mention in the history of you and Sean (well, at least in the comments on it)!! I’m sending your blog address to Jay as well, by the way, and I reckon he’d want to be recognised too! Wasn’t it us who forced you to talk to him in the first place? Didn’t he have a job putting up tents or something? Didn’t I guess his age completely wrong? When was ferret boy? Hmm… same beach, different day I guess. Probably even a different year.

Hi Susie. You should definitely get a blog too. What are you? About 13 by now?

Merry Christmas x

26
C
Dec 21, 2005

"who always waves for as long as he can from the departure gate"

It's 8:16 am I should not be crying right now.

27
bee
Dec 21, 2005

my comments aren't going to be super-original, but i thought i'd add them anyway:
1. the myth of you and i made me cry (a bit).
2. i'm really glad i found your blog. you're funny, sister.
3. don't try and write a good comment when you're recuperating from a pre-mix strawberry daiquiri/peach schnapps punch night.
so...good on you. have a good time in singapore. (!!)
i'll visit often.

28
Josh
Dec 21, 2005

lovely stuff, as usual. I broke up with my girlfriend on Friday (I don't think gave you a proper run-down other than during a rushed MSN chat, but in a nutshell: she was the Magic Numbers one; she is/was (never sure when to start using the past tense) amazing; it's 'no one's fault'), and I'm pretty miserable at the moment (and bloody Christmas just around the corner... I have posted her presents to her anyway; I don't want them). Anyway, this post should have made me bitter or jealous or upset but it hasn't. It's given me hope. Proper solid long-term hope I mean, not fanciful self-deluding hope. So, er, thanks.

Hi to the hottie.

Merry Christmas xx

ps I'm ever so slightly drunk

29
Sarcastic Journalist
Dec 22, 2005

That is beautiful. And, good grief, you two are very good looking people.

30
Katie
Dec 24, 2005

Just found you and...wow. Breathtaking. I had that ... the long-distance, airports-are-the-best-and-worst-places-on-earth relationship. We've said more goodbyes than weekends spent together. Now we're in a "the distance is too hard" phase, but I don't yet know if it's really a phase or a permanent state. You give me hope. I know I want what you have, even if it's not with him.

Pardon me while I drown my sorrows in some $7 champagne from Target. I think the occasion calls for it.

31
benjamin
Dec 24, 2005

this was beautiful. All of it. Beautiful and brilliant.
I think it says a lot about your writing, but far more about the love.

32
Susie
Dec 25, 2005

13, Anna? 13?? I'm disappointed, I mean, you were there when I was born!! You should know how old I am!! Gee Wiz! (And then I say expressions like Gee Wiz and suddenly I AM 13...again)

33
Marcheline
Dec 29, 2005

In that last shot, he resembles Clive Owen.

- M

34
gallaudet
Jan 07, 2006

Oh. Teary. Remembering the two years I was in India and Points East and The Tall Doctor was working on a reservation in South Dakota, and he wrote me every week and came to meet me in Kathmandu and we fell in love through the mail/in the monsoon. I remember standing on the tarmac in Kathmandu, about to board a flight for India, watching his Thai Airlines plane take off overhead and bank toward Bangkok, and feeling like the world was ending.

And now I smack him every night and tell him to roll over and stop snoring. And I'm always glad he's there.