Last night I dreamed that we were back in New York, and I was sitting with a laptop* in a coffee shop** that was flooded with sunlight. All of the sudden I looked up and out the window and thought, “Wow, we’re really home,” and I started sobbing with joy.
It’s hard to say things like this, because it doesn’t mean that I don’t love London as well (I love it so much), or that I won’t miss it once we’re gone (I’ll miss it like crazy). The closer we get to getting home, the more torn I feel. I also feel guilt and worry, that I should suppress my glee in front of the friends here that we’ll be leaving and missing so much I don’t even want to think about it. It’s a complicated feeling, so there must be a German word for it. Probably Pangaeaschnitzel. Zan told me awhile back that once you fall in love with someone from another country, the rest of your life is going to be spent missing someplace, no matter where you are.
We submitted our packet of forms to the embassy yesterday, which means now we’re just waiting for them to schedule Nick’s interview, and then we can return to the U.S. within a week after that. (If we pass.) (Of course we’ll pass.) (Fingers crossed, knock on wood.) As we walked out of the post office, we high-fived and hugged and Nick said, “Soon we’ll be home!” Which is really sweet of him, because while he’s ready and excited about living in New York, I know it doesn’t feel home to him yet in the way it does to me.
When we first met, and both realized oh wait, I have strong feelings for this person who lives on another continent, Nick won a million points in my book by saying, “Well, our first priority is being together,” like it was the most matter of fact thing in the world. And then I said, “I can’t leave New York, my life is in New York now, I’m not ready to leave it,” which felt very ballsy and brave until the moment it left my mouth and then I was terrified he’d say no dice, but instead he shrugged and said, “Okay, so we’ll live in New York.” I’ve spent the past two years constantly checking that that’s still okay, but Nick’s way of thinking is that he’s lived all over the world, all big cities are pretty much the same, he likes New York, he loves our friends there, I want to live there: end of story. I realize how lucky I am about so many things in this arrangement. For someone who kept finding herself in long distance relationships in her twenties, and at the end of each one swore never again, the next guy I date has to live next door, the longest distance of them all turned out to be the easiest. Wanting the same things! And being prepared to do whatever it takes to do them! Who knew!
Earlier this year, during one of my many crying jags, I kept saying things like, “I just want to go home and get back to my life.” Then I had a talk with myself, and declared that sort of phrasing unfair and ridiculous, because it’s not like my life in New York is on pause, waiting for me like my books and my clothes are. This is my life right now. This has been my life for the past year. And (this is schmaltzy, heads up) this year has revealed to me that home is wherever Nick is. Many times while I was having a late night homesick sob, he offered to send me back to New York so I could be with my friends, and he’d stay here and keep working and saving and waiting, but that was never an option for me. I told him no, I chose you, I choose this. I’d do it again. We’ve felt like a team from the first minute, and separating the team was not part of the deal. And while this year has been really hard, the good parts have been really good, and our relationship is even better and stronger than I thought it was.
I realize that just like this is my life, going home and getting married isn’t a happy ending. It’ll be my turn to support both of us, at least until Nick gets his green card. Things are still going to be hard and we’re still going to be strapped and stressed, and we’ll have a whole new set of people and things to miss, but just the fact that we’ll be officially starting on the life we want together is enough. Also maaaaan do I miss being able to walk to the bathroom naked in the middle of the night.
* I don’t ever do that, sit in a coffee shop with my laptop. I mean, I have a few times in the past, but I’m not one of those people that does that regularly. To me, those people seem far more ambitious than I could ever be. Once I’m up, dressed, fed and ready to sit behind a computer for most of the day, I never want to leave my house to do so. And if I want to leave my house, I’m sure as hell not bringing a laptop with me. I salute you, coffee shop workers, even though I’ve sat next to you and know you’re all just procrastinating on Facebook and YouTube like I am at home. At least you’re wearing shoes.
** It was a coffee shop I’ve been to a few times before, on University Place, with one whole glass wall facing the street. I spent half an hour trying to find it on Google Maps with no luck, until I emailed Josh Newman, whom I’ve met there on more than one occasion. Newman found it in sixty seconds: NewsBar. Here it is:
Unfortunately all the shots are from the outside looking in, not inside looking out. I’m amazed that I am this close to showing the internet what I saw in my head during a dream. This is better than jetpacks, in my opinion.