This is a tough one to write.
I keep thinking about how excited I would feel to meet you- right up to the end really. But in the beginning it was so intense. The very first time you took the bus to Jersey, I remember I stood on the overpass over the highway waiting for you. I was pacing back and forth, looking myself over, straining to see down the highway if the bus was coming, and straining to see when you would get off. When I finally saw you, you were carrying a shopping bag with a wrapped present, which I pretended not to notice. It was maybe our fourth time meeting- but we had said that we were going to “have a talk.” And later that evening- we did. We sat at a duck pond and told each other our stories. We ate lunch at a restaurant nearby during which we both pulled out little sheets of paper with notes that we’d written. I remember that you had written, “Dan’s plan- not necessarily God’s plan” next to your 5 year plan. After that talk, we said we’d wait a while to start dating- take things slow, but I think we both knew we were dating from that point on.
And every time I came to pick you up at that bus stop, it was the same. I would always look my best, and I would usually go to the overpass and look for you there. Sometimes I would arrive later than you and see you coming over the overpass and down the stairs. You would have the biggest smile on your face, and lower your head down just a bit as if you were peeking at me behind the windshield of my car. I could not keep from smiling. Then you’d open the car door and say, “It’s so good to see you.” It was ridiculous really how crazy we were about each other.
If we were meeting an another location- on a corner in the city or one of our favorite spots in the first year or so- the Marriot in Times Square- you would often play the same joke of pretending not to see me and walk by me with a giant smile on your face. But then you’d turn around, our hands would clasp, or we’d hug, and I was instantly high.
And it was the same when I would take the bus into the city to meet you. I’d sit on the bus touching up my makeup, literally heart pounding the entire way to the city. I could not get there fast enough, and my anticipation would build as we neared the Lincoln Tunnel until I finally saw the little line in the middle of the tunnel on the yellow tiles with the words on either side: NEW JERSEY…NEW YORK. And then I’d get off the bus and then, there you were- smiling and waiting to take my hand.
You lived in Staten Island at the time, and later you lived in Harlem, but you were always there at my bus gate in Port Authority waiting for me, and you always took me back there at the end of a day or evening, waiting to be sure I was on that bus. It was routine for five years, and not an easy one. Often we were running down the tunnel from the 1-9 train to Port Authority- up that smelly little hill, past the crazy religious signs, and the old man playing the Chinese violin (which you always said was just the worst sounding instrument). We were usually running because sometimes the bus only came every hour and somehow we’d always wind up almost missing it. Sometimes we did. Usually I’d make it on, sometimes with you running upstairs to hold the bus while I bought my ticket, and when I was finally on the dark bus alone, my legs would ache from running.
On the 25th of this past June, I came into the city to meet you for one last time- for dinner before seeing Abbie’s play. And it was…the same. I came down the escalator- and there you were. We smiled. You took my hand and we navigated through the rush hour crowd. I commented on how I couldn’t believe I’d ever done this routine for so many years- I was so out of practice now. But the feeling of seeing you- had not changed. Not at all.
I have broken down numerous times while writing this post because these moments of meeting played such a special role in our love story. I am weeping now. I have lost so much more than just the Dan you were when you left, or the future we had together. I have lost all of our years and memories we shared together. I’ve been thinking about those moments of anticipation, and thinking about how the rest of my life will be one long ride to the Lincoln Tunnel. But for now, there’s no more anticipation for me. I am not waiting for your call, for your email, for a letter. There’s no one to look out the window for towards the end of the day. The bus stops in front of our building- people get out- and I close the curtains. It is a loneliness I have never known before in my life.