Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dear Michigan (“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”)

Distance is a good thing when you’re triple jumping for the school track team. It’s a great thing to keep your distance when you’re on Safari and you encounter a less than pleased rhino. And one of the best things about college might just be that space you put between the person you'd been and the one you were meant to become (i.e. getting far enough away from home that you can learn how to be yourself, hopefully without giving up being yourself in the process). But when it comes to love, distance flat out sucks!

From my driveway to hers, if I push the speed limit without being negligent, it’s 8 ½ hours. Two of the past three weekends I’ve made the drive. She’s mentioned to me several times, Michigan, that you’re just too far to visit for one day. But that’s where she’s wrong. And I know she says that because she worries about me being tired after working all week. But I can get out on Friday around 5:30pm and head home and have a nice dinner and maybe just relax for the rest of the evening. Of course, what I’m going to be doing is missing her (and you) like crazy. And around 10:00pm I’ll call and talk for an hour or so and catch up on the day as best I can. Or, I can go into work early every morning so, come Friday, I get out at 2:00pm and I head due west. By the time I’d be making my goodnight sweetheart phone call I can be texting her from her doorstep. And I just don’t have the words for how good that feels. And here’s another thing about love (not the head-over-heels giddy infatuation stuff where you end up doing all sorts of things you’d never do because you just can’t be apart for longer than 38 seconds), it's important to have your own time and your own space, but just knowing that at the end of the day you get to be with the woman you love, that's what gives being apart it greatest value.

I hope you’ll forgive me Michigan, but I wrote a poem for a novel-in-verse I’m working on about a football player who moves to a new town. He thinks about his parents and how far apart they’ve become and he also thinks about the girl he loves and how just doing the simple things together is enough. I share a revised version of that poem here because the hardest part about all this is that at the end of each day the one thing I want most is to just go home and see her smile and wrap my arms around her and squeeze and tell her, I love you. It’s simple, I know, and not very poetic. But that’s the one true ache I carry inside me each day. If I have to, Michigan, I’ll drive out every weekend until I can just be there with you, until I can just be there with her. And maybe the best thing about all that space between us right now is that once I am out there, I’ll cherish it each and every day. Right now the distance and the ache are barriers I'm trying to eliminate.


is one of those
weird words
that can mean
the opposite
of what it means,
like how you can be
close to someone
and never be further apart,
or how you can be all the way
across town working out
in your garage,
but you close your eyes
and it’s like you’re in
some restaurant booth
with her hand in your hand
and the warmth is there
in your fingers. Distance
isn’t just the space
between points,
it’s the space between hearts.
And sometimes, for some people,
close is a long way off,
far is almost touching.

*Quote in title is from Rumi

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