I told you I had wanted this since I was 11. I told you I had to go. I told you I had been saving my money since I was in high school to get on a plane and study abroad in London. I told you I just needed to do this. I told you that I couldn't be happy if I didn't leave. It's not every day you get the chance to tell a boyfriend of 30 or so days that you're getting on a plane and going to Europe. He was new to my life but my plan to travel and the ache in my stomach to see new cities was not. I had felt this ache for many years and this was the year I was going.
At first, you were shocked- this was news to you. Then you were upset. What if I found something better than our fragile baby of a relationship in London? Guilt and compassion for you filled me. How scary it must be to let someone you just committed to....leave. I was not in your shoes and I was glad to not be there, because it must be scary.
But then, after a few moments, you were quiet. You told me that if I wanted to go, I had to do it. You told me it was an incredible opportunity. You told me that you were excited and I had to promise to go back one day with you. I pinky-swore to you that we would go back one day.
You drove me to the airport that July morning. As we got closer, the anxiety grew and I tried to be brave. Travel and adventure and seeing new places is an obsession of mine. I can't get enough of it. Nothing thrills me more than living out of a suitcase in a new city.
But flying....I hate flying. I saw the planes take off above us and I knew I would be on one of them soon and you would be left driving back home and I would be gone for a summer. I knew you didn't want me to leave, and in that moment, my dream of seeing Europe seemed to feel small when I realized you couldn't come with. You got my suitcase out of the car for me.
You kissed me, I cried. You told me I was brave and you loved me and that I was going to have the time of my life. I cried more. You snuck a small American flag into my carry-on so that I could hang it in my new dorm room and remember home.
I walked away and in that moment, you were gone, and off I went on a great big adventure, an adventure I had been waiting for my whole life. You let me leave. You selflessly let me see places and cities you had never experienced before, because you wanted me to have the life I wanted.
You called me every day. I squealed in excitement because everyday I was there, my dreams were coming truer. I saw things I never thought I'd ever actually see in person. I have never felt happier than when I was in London, still to this day. But even then, my heart missed you. I wanted you to be there, to marvel at the same things I marveled at, to laugh at the same little things that no one else notices except us.
The summer ended and I flew home. I will never, ever forget the moment I ran off the airplane to a crowd of people, lined up with flowers and banners and smiles, waiting for loved ones. I saw you immediately. You had flowers and sign with my name and I have never held onto someone that tightly before. I had seen everything I had wanted to see while I was in Europe, but I had missed you so much it hurt.
I knew you thought that was the last time we would ever have to part. But I didn't want to tell you. My best friends and I had always talked about going on a fantastic, old-fashioned, cross-country road trip before we graduated college. And we were graduating soon. Time was running out, and besides the fact that I had just left the summer before, this seemed as good a time as any. I knew I was selfish to leave again. I felt guilty but I knew I had promised myself that a relationship would never be a reason I didn't follow my dreams. Because what kind of relationship would that be?
I was so nervous. I saw the fear in your eyes the first time I left. I knew it was hard for you. I didn't want to ask again. I waited until the last minute to ask you if it was okay with you if I went to California. This was a year later. We were more serious now. We were deeply in love. You were moving to a different state for me. We wanted to get married and start a life together. Yet, here I was, selfishly again, asking to leave. My heart wanted so badly to go on another adventure. I was itching to go.
And you, you're selfless and wonderful. You kissed the top of my head and you told me to go. Again.
So, two summers in a row, you drove me to the airport again. I was less nervous about flying but more upset to leave you. It was starting to not feel right, going out into this big world without you. You unpacked my bags from the car..again. You kissed me and told me you loved me and asked me to promise that I would go back with you one day. I promised. Then, I left.
I got on a plane to Texas. I drove through desert to get to California, to dip my toes in the Pacific, to walk the pier at sunset. I had the time of my life with my two best girl friends. I explore, adventured. I'm never happier than when I'm exploring somewhere new.
Over two weeks later, it was time to come home. I had never been so excited to see you. But then, you told me. You couldn't get off work to come pick me up at the airport. After I got home, I would have to wait a few days before I could see you again. Long distance sucks. My heart was hurt, but I didn't let you know.
You had just let me run away on an adventure of a lifetime and here I was upset that you couldn't get off of work, to drive two hours to come pick me up. I told you it was fine. I wouldn't be more selfish than I had already been by leaving in the first place.
It was my first time flying by myself. I was nervous. I didn't know who to sit next to, so when I saw an older couple with a puppy on their lap, I figured the dog, if nothing else, would be good company. We talked for 5 hours. They were such a nice couple and they let me hold their dog. I told them about you and about my life, and I was more awkward than charming, as I am slowly realizing is the great theme of my social life.
The plane landed. We parted ways. I was alone again. I waited to find my luggage. I watched the conveyor belt spin around. I was waiting for my mom to come get me, and I wanted to cry because you got me last summer from the airport and you weren't here.
But then, someone grabbed me from behind. I screamed because I had seen Taken and I thought I was next. I turned around and there you were. You had flowers. I cried. I cried ugly. Shoulder shaking, mascara running crying. You were here and everything was right. You let me leave and you were here when I came back.
You have no idea how much it means to me that you'd let me go out into this huge, crazy world and run wild. You have let me be brave and adventurous. You have never once crushed my spirit to be free. To this day, your selflessness has been the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.
(Spoiler alert: When I was in California, you bought a ring. When I got home, I said yes. My next trip will be our honeymoon and we will run wild together.)