I remember a time where I loved trains. I thought they were romantic (what don’t I find romantic?), gave you time to think, make you contemplate your life and help you take a moment to decide how to go on. I used to enjoy the whole process: booking the trip, thinking about the time I would have to myself, preparing my luggage, going to the station…
Now, I only see it as this long, tedious process until I can be in your arms. The end result is great, of course. But we live so far away from each other, it seems out lives are passing by just like the landscape I see through the train window. It seems to go by so fast and yet I feel like there are so many empty moments, with nothing of substance in them. Just time, ticking by, not caring that my heart aches when that time is not spent with you.
Wouldn’t it be great to say that it’s worth it? That seeing you smile like the first day when you finally see me emerging from the train makes the time spent in the confined space unimportant? That feeling your arms wrap around me, not wanting to let go, takes away the cramps in my legs from what seemed like endless sitting? That hearing you take in my smell and exhaling like you are complete in that instant makes all the emptiness go away? I’m afraid it has just been too long and too many of these moments for it to be like that. It just gets harder and harder. You are still worth it. But I don’t know if it is anymore.
Nearly six hours to be next to you. Once a month, I go to you. Once a month, you come to me. Six hours one way, six hours the other. Half a day spent wondering, longing, crying and being angry. Two weekends a month being together is not enough for me or for you.
The sadness that I feel I’ve been feeling for a while now. Being apart from you just isn’t how I want to live. It isn’t how I want our relationship to be. I’ve been looking for jobs in this part of the country, but I haven’t had any luck. And you can’t move because your family business is here. I love this part of the country. I always thought I would end up living here. But it doesn’t seem like that can be the case. And so, the sadness keeps growing, taking over me and tainting everything.
Your arms feel as warm as I dream of them most nights, drinking from memory. Your deliciously intoxicating smell surrounds me, just like when I wear your shirts to sleep. We are together and this is how it should be.
– Have you any news from that job interview you did?
Directly to the point. You’ve always been like this.
– Not since the last emails I told you about. Have they said something to you?
– How was the train ride?
You’re avoiding a question. Weird. You never do that.
– Horrible, as always. Better now.
A slight kiss on my forehead and your hand leads me to your car. You open the door, help me inside and kiss me again. Deeply this time, with a passion that we haven’t felt in a while.
– Are you okay, my love?
– Of course, you are here now.
You drive us to your house, I unpack my suitcase. How many more times I’m going to unpack? It’s dinnertime, so I go downstairs to help you make it and most importantly, open a bottle of wine for the both of us.
You’re standing at the bottom of the stairs, my jacket in your hand and a tie in the other.
– What is going on?
– We are going out tonight. And you are going to wear this, because it’s a surprise.
I’ve always liked surprises. I smile and go down the stairs gleefully. I hop into the car and you cover my eyes. You start the car and put on one of my favourite CDs. I’m liking this already. It has been so long since we were spontaneous and romantic… It’s something that I have missed. Blindly, I search for your hand on the gear changer (it’s always there) and I rest mine on it. I can’t stop smiling.
The car stops. We’re here, apparently. You tell me not to take my blindfold off and to wait. I do. I hear you open and close doors. Some time passes and you open mine.
– Darling, I’m going to carry you to where we are going.
You take me into your arms. My gosh it feels good. I rest my head on your shoulders, taking in all the sensations. You put me down. I feel sand, we are at a beach. I hear the waves and music. I smell a log fire and the salt.
– I brought you to our spot – you say, taking off the blindfold. It’s been years since we’ve come here, but I thought it an appropriate setting for what I have to say.
I see that you prepared dinner. The fire is warm. You hand me a glass of wine.
– I want to take you to Iceland to see the aurora borealis, Olivia.
– You know that I will only go with the person that I will marry.
You hand me a ring.
– Darren, I can’t marry you like this. We see each other twice a month. That’s not a way to be in a relationship. It’s not a marriage. Not one I want, at least.
– I can’t take the distance anymore. I need to be close to you everyday. Olivia, please move in with me. Please marry me.
– Come here without a job? We’ve talked about this, you know we can’t do that.
– Okay, don’t be mad… Peter called me.
– Peter, your friend, who did my interview?
– Yes… He called and told me you got the job. He called me because he wanted to know when was the next time you were arriving. When I told him it was today he asked if I wanted to be the one to tell you. I know it’s unconventional, he just knows that I wanted to ask you to marry me too.
– Unconventional?! It’s downright unprofessional! Why on earth should my boyfriend be the one telling me I’m hired?
– Please don’t be mad. You’re meeting him tomorrow, first thing in the morning. He’ll tell you himself. He just wanted to give his old friend the chance to get down on one knee as soon as possible. We both know you won’t marry me if you don’t have a job and live here. Please don’t be mad, Olivia.
– So he hired me so in order for you to get married?
– Of course not! He has been wanting to hire you since he met you and saw your portfolio! He just couldn’t afford it until now. The fact that you are my girlfriend has nothing to do with it.
– Except for you telling me instead of him.
– Well, yes. We are sorry for that.
– All of this is romantic but it’s not the way to do things.
– I know, I’m sorry. I got carried away by the possibility of finally being together all the time.
– My love, if you are to take me to Iceland, this can’t happen again. There will be no mixing of personal and professional life. You know that, it’s why I don’t work for you. And tomorrow I’ll tell Peter the same thing.
– So I can take you? You’ll move here? You’ll marry me?
– Yes, I will do all those things. It’s about time we do them, too.
I look at my finger, I don’t seem able to stop smiling. I touch my ring, still not quite believing it. I’m in the train on my way to close off my life in that city. You’ll come in the car in a week to pick me up and bring my things to my new city. For the first time in a ages, this train ride isn’t tainted by tears and anger.
I might like trains again.