Half of a Whole
My eyes were still drowning in the short-term aftermath of separation as I got off the plane. He welcomed me with a smile and a bright greeting. He did not embarrass me, nor stare too long at my puffy face for fear of making me uncomfortable.
When this is over, I will get off the plane and run into your arms. I will cry and you will not, because you always say one of us has to be strong. You will never know how much I missed you, because I fear telling you might root me to the ground and keep me from venturing out again.
I got lost on my way to the hotel and called out to her.
“Excuse me,” I asked, my suitcase in tow. “Am I on the right track?” Silently, I congratulated myself on speaking her language well enough to yield comprehension. She smiled with a kind sort of pity, but I didn’t dislike it; I wanted someone to hold my hand, if only for a moment, and figured it might as well be her.
A month from now, I will ask you whether I did the right thing. You will look at me in your familiar way and say nothing. You will kiss my forehead, and I will feel both lost and found at the same time.
I was walking down a semi-familiar street with my shabby backpack and shabbier shoes when the rain began to fall. Being only metres away from the hotel, I was unfazed, but then he approached from behind and asked if I did not have an umbrella. I confirmed his concerns and assumed the end of the conversation, given the closed nature of the question. He handed me his umbrella, told me he didn’t need it and walked off into the rain. If he had known I was seconds away from a mediocre hotel shower and change of clothes, he may have rethought his decision. But then maybe he knew what I needed better than I did.
It’s winter at home now. I will find myself caught in the rain many times over the coming month and a half. I might never have an umbrella when I need one, but it won’t matter. I won’t be alone.
One afternoon I found myself alone on the way to my far-off classroom. The day filled with complications early on and weighed down my feet, so I sat and ordered a smoothie which would have been too expensive if I were not so tired. I drank it like it was golden and left feeling lighter, whether from the energy in the drink or the fewer coins in my purse.
My friends are all together drinking overpriced smoothies in the shopping mall foodcourt. They say they think of me often but they have no idea. I will not be part of the memories they make while I’m away. Life does not wait for you to show up.
I rode the train to the nightclub district for inspiration, but could not find the confidence to climb the front steps. I sat outside on the cement watching glamorous couples walk past me and imagined what it was like inside. I felt time wasting away and realised I am the same person in Japan as I was in Brisbane before I met you. Disappointing.
With you, I am not myself. I am better. I try to keep myself from leaning on you, but you are strong and I feel always on the verge of falling. I had hoped this would force me to be strong on my own, but I realise now I never fully understood what that might take.
When the adventure, the distance and the time become too heavy, I will book a flight and come home early because I know you will come and pick me up at the airport. I know you will not pity me. I know you will understand that I did as much as I could.
You know I will repay you one day.
A few months will pass and I will miss the adventurous flavour of elsewhere. I will wonder whether I could do it better this time around, but the thought will be forgotten like the passing moments between adventures, filled with nothing in particular.
I will not go without you again.
Cover by Ethan Sykes