I'm in Texas, sitting on a hotel bed, having completed the first leg of my voyage home to Utah for the summer. Sam and I didn't get on the road until one this afternoon; we ran into snafus all morning: My laptop AND cell phone broke and then magically repaired themselves by the time I took them in to be fixed. (Thanks to prayer, I reckon.)
We miscommunicated regarding some boxes, which left me in the Hattiesburg post office, trying to lift 67-pound boxes of my stuff, with this woman who kept calling me "shoog" (as in, first syllable of sugar) and dropping my precious packaged possessions into a deep bin in the back. So long, Grandma's rippled blue drinking glasses. (Yes, I know. Shouldn't have packaged them anyway. I was desperate and delirious by the end of packing--throwing out everything: cat food, sweaters, pillows, vacuum cleaners. Chaotic heartbreak.)
Anyway, rough morning. Then, a few hours out, my check engine light went on. We drove through Shreveport, Louisiana, looking for a place to get it tested, hoping it wasn't terrible news. It wasn't; all was well. And we got to see a woman with big gold earrings that spelled out "c-u-t-i-e" and a diner that spelled cinnamon roll "sinnamon roll" on their window.
But none of that's the point. The point is that I'm leaving this place I've lived for three years, and it feels odd. I'm of two minds: this morning, driving around the town, it seemed so beautiful and green. It suddenly seemed I would miss it. I bent down to pet Sam's cat and say goodbye; I smoothed a patch of his striped brown fur, and he seemed to know what was going on, and I felt this little spot in my chest cleft open. For how difficult it's been to live there, I have good memories. I'll miss it.
And my other mind: I may have lived here for three years, but the South is still foreign to me. I was somewhere in a Louisiana gas station and there was this rather elegant black man in bright green slacks and a black shirt. He was looking at the potato chips. And someone else was at the counter, speaking in a drawl, and I suddenly felt like I was in a different country--a place that didn't speak my language, a place I'd never been. This region is not my own. I can feel it as we move more west, and I confess it's a relief to think I don't have to go back.
But that's not the point either. The point that I'm avoiding is about Sam. Right now, he's in the hotel room across the hall from me. I kept wanting to explain our relationship to the girl behind the check-in desk: "Look, we're deeply in love, really. We just can't share a hotel room because ... because." It feels like we're roommates, like siblings. Only not. Really, not.
Today, when I waited in his driveway for him to refill his small bottle of hand sanitizer, I aimed my phone's camera at his door so I could get a picture of him coming out with the wispy white clouds above his roof. And none of it seemed real. I've spent nearly every day for the last two years with that man, and trying to wrap my brain around being without him is like trying to imagine what it would be like to lose an arm. Like trying to imagine playing checkers without opposable thumbs; or eating a sun-warm peach without a sense of smell; or preforming open heart surgery in the dark.