Anata Wa Watashi No Gengo O Hanashimasu
Before I ever met my superhero, when the prospect of falling in love forever flashed in and out of my mind like every other relationship in my many decades, the occasional phone calls, a few texts, and possibilities of crossing paths encompassed our entire relationship. Oh, and a bit of flirting. We swapped photos and histories and travel plans with the anticipation that in a month or so, his next project would begin and we’d be geographically closer. He made me laugh, we made small talk, and we left footprints that would start us along a path into the future.
In our respective time zones, he wrapped up his work each night when I was already home from my long commute. His routine came with early mornings an hour behind mine, as we waited for our chance to exchange more than photos from our surroundings. I sent him pictures of the baby donkey next door and he passed along images of a North Dakotan sunrise. As my roommate observed when I shared with her the early morning light over the prairie, she knew what this single glimpse of his nature – around him and inside him – meant in my mind. “He speaks your language.”
More than a handful of years later, he’s abroad, quarantined, waiting for his Asian isolation to end and another project to begin. I’m basking on the bayou, alone, yet surrounded by crappy coworkers. We’re back to text messages, phone calls, and the distant plan to find ourselves in the same hemisphere in the future. I know we can do this. It’s a figure eight – perhaps closer to the shape of infinity – pulling us apart and winding us back together over months and years. As these two stretch ahead, elongated, we pace ourselves to survive without each other. I’ve moved across the country more than once to be with him, but now he’s been lifted up and away. Far, far away.
Sleeping when I wake, and awake when the pups and I rest, the digital relationship lacks the conversation and closeness we’ve worked towards for a chunk of years. Now we must relearn to communicate, to flirt from a distance, and to find the little ways we can connect his world away with my home where I stay. While waiting for his fortnight to finish, he captures his surroundings to share with me. Spring splashes in the Land of the Rising Sun, so he sends me digital snaps from the tree outside his window covered in cherry blossoms. Even with the barrier between us, he still speaks my language.