I’m staring blindly at the speckled patchwork of farms miles below, untouched ginger ale on ice fizzing steadily to flat before me. The Atlantic rests forgotten on my seatback tray, pages flipped to an in-depth spread about a restless Chinese military initiating scuffles by land and by sea.
It’s 700 miles to an unexpected descent in Salt Lake City, and I can feel something dripping out of my heart with every new inch of distance. I am lost in the image of you crying in your living room, ice-cold water in an emptied tequila bottle, popsicles on a shoulder-to-shoulder N train, your hand resting on my thigh a beat too long, my arm looped easily through yours, laughing because anything else feels too much like goodbye for good. I wouldn’t let you say any of the words you’d rehearsed, knowing I’d fall apart if you said anything at all.
Somewhere over Reno, my hands stop trembling, my heart stops racing. My mind is hundreds of miles behind my body, and I’m not sure it will ever catch back up with the rest of me. The same songs repeat a third time in my headphones, and I’m 16 again, full of all the wrong emotions and hormones, distracted and certain I’ve lost my ability to focus for good.
I am too far from you. I don’t know how to manage the day-to-day — how did I function before?