The Distance

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“Oh, the distance is not doable in these bodies of clay, my brother. Oh, the distance makes me uncomfortable. Guess it’s natural to feel this way.”

The bus is crawling down Market Street at a snail’s pace as we sit here wasting time that could be better spent. Right now I’m thinking about how I would have probably already been at the office by now if I hadn’t thought it was good luck that the bus reached the corner at the same time I did. That hadn’t happened in months, so I was momentarily blinded by it as I climbed aboard and swiped my Transpass through the reader. Now I sit here in the middle of the bus, regret etched across my features. And I’m not alone.

When I moved to the outskirts of downtown Philadelphia I thought I had it made. It meant less commuting time and more culture. Of course part of the tradeoff was the declining sense of safety that had shrouded me living in the suburbs, ensconced in all the trappings of distance. See, distance is all it takes to feel secure, distance from where most crimes take place, distance from people who walk everywhere they go, and distance from the type of crazy you can only find in a city’s center. But I moved anyway because the pros outweighed the cons, or at least they did on my checklist.

But as I sit here, and the clock keeps on ticking, I’m starting to rethink why those pros weighed down the scale a few short months ago. It helped that the apartment I was in wasn’t mine, that it was ours, and that he was gone. It just felt haunted ever since he vanished, one day there and the next gone. Watching that life I had built up disappear in so much smoke, in an instant, humbled me. It made me wary of things I thought I had known, things I felt had been true up until that point. I just couldn’t go on living there, with the specter of him all around even though he was physically gone. To me he would never be gone if I didn’t leave myself.

He left on a Tuesday, but he had already been packed for days. I just hadn’t noticed because I hadn’t been around. I guess that was his excuse for leaving in the first place, but to me it made absolutely no sense. Because I wasn’t around enough he decided to ensure that I’d never be around ever again? If he was so hell bent on spending time with me shouldn’t he have talked it out with me, and shouldn’t we have figured out together how to spend more time together? Instead this is where we are, not even talking, not even texting, essentially dead to each other after living together for three years and being together for five. It’s not fair.

And I can’t cry, because crying means I’ve accepted that it’s over, and I haven’t. As the bus stands still in the middle of what has basically become a parking lot at the corner of 8th and Market I imagine him next to me. He always hated public transportation, which was one of the primary reasons we lived in the suburbs in the first place, even though we both had quite a commute, because it forced him to use a car to get to work. Being on this filthy bus with all the “unwashed masses” would have probably made him hyperventilate. I take some kind of sick pride in the fact that I can tough it out, that I am surviving this breakup, even if I’m not thriving like I wish I were. I can’t even hate him, either, even though that’s what I want more than anything else in the world. Hating him might just bring down this house of cards, though, so I hold it at arm’s length.

My friends all said from the start that he wasn’t right for me, that the way he was wired was at a different frequency, that I should take off my blinders where he was concerned, but I never listened to them even though I knew they had my best interests at heart. When we moved to Ardmore they were all there to help us move, though, as loyal as dogs despite it all. And when he left suddenly they rallied around me so I couldn’t see past their embraces, while not a vile word passed their lips. I am blessed to have such saints on earth to rely on even when I give them nothing in return but wet shoulders. If love were an ocean I would be constantly fascinated by the depth of theirs.

The traffic finally begins to move as the bus takes the turn onto 8th street and I breathe a little easier, because even though the waiting drives me insane it keeps me level. It reminds me that there’s a world out there I have yet to see, and that if I’m patient enough I’ll be able to experience it in a way I never have before, that the distance between where I’ve been and where I’m going has never been greater.

Sam

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