When you consider the yawning span of 941,000,000,000,000,000 miles that separates the Milky Way from one of its nearest galactic neighbors, the Large Magellanic Cloud, the space between New Orleans and the tip of Cape Cod is no wider than a freckle.
But it feels like a light year. Maybe two.
Leaving Provincetown on Monday, I drove slower than usual. I kept thinking that I’d left something behind, even though I’d checked Jonno’s summer cabin at least three times for socks, keys, cables. But what I’d left a few stone’s throws from the salt marshes was far more important and impossible to pack.
I zeroed out the trip button on my odometer and watched the distance tick by:
As I passed the curiously named town of Orleans, I asked myself: was it really just an hour ago that I was sitting on Jonno’s bed, watching him through the screen door as he played with the hounds? Has it only been 60 minutes since we stood on the deep green grass and kissed one another goodbye?
And more to the point: am I really this weepy saying goodbye to him after 15 years? Am I on the verge of tears, even though I know he’ll return to New Orleans in six more weeks? Am I really that completely, stupidly in love?
It’s funny how emotions can sneak up on you. But then, what else are they supposed to do?
I feel exactly as I did all those years ago, when we said our first goodbyes at the corner of 9th Avenue and 23rd Street, him standing in front of his favorite diner and waving until I was just a distant speck on the sidewalk. There have been plenty of goodbyes since. None have been easy.
I’m happy to be back in New Orleans, a city I love, even in deepest summer. But I’ll be happier next month.