I’ve been waiting for this feeling since I was a preadolescent girl tingling with excitement from all the possibilities in this colossal world. I’ve tried to reach out and grab it in my teenage years but it was always too quick for me. And then in my early twenties, I was too consumed by the well of my experiences to look up.
I was too busy sipping foaming cappuccinos beneath the Eifel tower and throwing lucky pennies in the Trevi Fountain to notice. I was too engrossed with this idea of finding myself in all these foreign cities I had read about. But then strangely, when I least expected it, I found you in the peak of all this bliss.
I was already radiating from the afterglow that came from living on a slice of paradise off the coast of Spain. I had just been offered my dream job; one that promised me a life of adventure as I sailed across the high seas and saw the world through peeled eyes and a hand shielding them from the golden horizon. I wanted it so badly I was frothing for it. But what I got in the end wasn’t the thing I was after, it was infinitely better. It was you.
I had stopped looking for you and chose instead to look for myself.
It was then that all those tiny pieces of the puzzle seemed to fall into place. I had been greeted by this classic 80m motor yacht so grand, at first it appeared to me as the Titanic. You were the second officer onboard; but I was too busy memorizing the names of co-workers and fulfilling my duties to notice you at first.
Each day I worked until my body ached and tried to fit this role of submissive stewardess, though it was clear I was an imposter. You made me feel the very opposite of how I felt and welcomed me the way the others hadn’t.
What at first was a deep-sea daydream had become a plank-walking nightmare. I saw the world through a rusty porthole and didn’t set foot on land once that month. Every day got more excruciating, the days doubled in length and my leash got shorter. I could barely keep up with the hierarchy’s barking commands that seemed to flog me at any given moment. But every night you were there, there to wipe my tears, there to whisper me to sleep. You were the glue that held me together.
That was probably the reason for my breakdown not too long after, when the captain dropped me at the nearest dock in Athens, telling me I had to leave and never return. I knew at that moment, that although I had been granted my freedom, I might never see you again, and it just about killed me.
Saying goodbye to you that day was our most difficult by far, but it wasn’t our last. Even as I watched your reflection shrivel out of existence in my cab’s rear-view mirror, I had this feeling deep down that I’d see you again. Because when your soul finally wraps itself around another, it’s not something to let go of; at least not without a fight.
Maybe that was why we kept in touch. Every day for months we kept in touch. I couldn’t rest my head on your beating chest or interlock my fingers with yours, but I could hear your laughter and be soothed by your words. You told me that we’d see each other again, that we’d find a way no matter what. I didn’t know if this fairytale would remain a work of fiction or if it’d toil its way into reality, but I remained hopeful. Despite my pessimistic alter-ego, and criticism from others, I never gave up hope that we’d find our way back to each other.
It wasn’t until I finally accepted the fact that I might never actually see you again, that the universe conspired to make our fairytale real. You asked me to fly to the Seychelles, a haven bordered by turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. My flights were booked just days after that call.
It had been nearly half a year since I’d seen you, so of course I still remember that feeling. That roller-coaster in my stomach and that thrashing heart. They confirmed that I was about to go do something bold and unknown but thrilling beyond imagination.
When I saw you for the first time again at the airport, I wanted to scoop that moment up and keep it forever. You looked at me like you’d never seen anything more beautiful, despite me being on a plane for fifteen hours. You’ve been looking at me like that ever since.
That trip was one of the best in my life. We swam alongside whale sharks in the Indian Ocean and sailed from one island to the next. In the day we’d snorkel and paddleboard and let our skin be kissed by the buoyant sun; and in the night we’d try to read our futures in a spellbinding sky.
After the Seychelles, you took me to your country of birth and surrounded me with the best company of the South African savannah. We drove down powdered-dust roads in finger-grazing distance of impalas, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions and black rhinos. Every part of me was tingling with excitement much like the way I did when I was young.
The adventures we shared never came in short supply, but unfortunately neither did having to say goodbye. Because at the end of every grand finale, is the end until next time. Our bitter-sweet endings always came with equal parts tears and uncertainty. I never knew when or if I’d see you again. At the end of the day, you were still a man of the sea, and I couldn’t steal that away from you.
It’s been nearly three years and the love/hate routine of arrival and departure has persisted. Last year we met in South America and this year you came stateside to meet my family. Every time one of us steps off the plane it’s the most fabulous display of fireworks. But then when our time is up, I hear sad symphonies playing you away again.
I know it sounds selfish, but I hate to have to see you leave each time. I find myself overcome with envy of the girls with boyfriends who stay. Their hearts will never know the longing that mine knows more than half the time.
I hate to complain because you’re the person who makes surviving all my former despair worth it. But every time you hop on that plane and make your way back to where the land meets the sea, my heart breaks a little more.
I don’t want to be the girl who misses you too much or needs you too much. But the impression has been made, and you’ll be within me forever. Whether I want to or not, I will feel your absence to my core.
I know I can’t ever ask you to stay or to not leave for months at a time. But the least I can do is tell you, that whatever it is you’re looking for out there on the water every day, I hope that you find it. Even if it’s not with me.
I will never make you stay, but I may grow to love you more each day. I may want to settle down and have a family with you too, wherever we spin the globe and happen to land.
Secretly, I hope you’ll find all the adventure you could ever need in me. But in the meantime, I’ll be creating my own. Because I can’t endure the thought of you being with a woman who stands around and waits. I despise the thought of you being with someone who doesn’t chase after her own dreams.
I will make you proud of me and when you return, and I’ll still be here; but I might seem a little different. Because when you’re gone for half the time, life will still go on at full speed, and I’ll be evolving too, in my own way.
I don’t know how many more finales we’ll be allotted, if the distance will keep us thriving in an eternal honeymoon or blow us to smithereens. But I do know that I’ve had the pleasure of loving you with my whole heart; and even if I only get to have you for half the time, it’s already more than enough for me.
Just loving you is more than enough for me.