I’m back! After telling myself in 2013 that I would start this blog as a way to flex my creative writing muscles, I ended up not publishing anything anymore after a few handy blog posts. But I’ve most recently gone on a road trip across ten states (i.e. Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Washington DC., and Delaware) and I would like to share my Kerouac-like experience two months ago. First of all, I guess it would help to know that I am in a long distance relationship, and have been for almost two years. It’s never easy to have the person you love living on the opposite side of the globe, but we’ve been making it work and we’re stronger than we have ever been. We’ve taken our trips to see each other; he went to see me last December, and I flew out to see him last April.
We both even have our Countdown apps on our iPhones, just to remind us that our time apart is only temporary. So you can imagine that with four months in between, we were anxious for the time we’d get to see each other again. Once I bought my plane ticket in February, my thoughtful boyfriend started researching and booking trips, hotels, and tours that we could enjoy once I made my way Stateside.
I suppose the one thing that I will never get used to is how long the plane ride is. All Nippon Airways is my airline of choice, right up there with Korean Air, but the long, dragging hours can sap the energy out of me. Especially since I never sleep on planes (unless you count dozing off for ten minutes and being jolted out of a ‘peaceful’ reverie every single time). But as the hours ticked by, I became even more excited with the prospect of seeing him. Once I got into Dulles, I slung my five-pound backpack over my shoulders and prepared for our reunion. As my sleep-deprived brain tried to absorb the information on the screens (proceed to Baggage Carousel 2), I walked the long stretch of the terminal and found Josh running to see me. You know how in those movies, the most romantic scenes take place in the airport? Josh and I know exactly how that feels. He rushed to meet me, and I forgot about the hours of non-sleep and the fatigue welling up in my body. He was there, and I was there, and for two people in a long distance relationship, that’s all that matters. He even bought me a balloon and a rose. There is a certain joy that one feels when you realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. I’m happy to say that that feeling has not waned at all with him. After we grabbed my suitcase and hauled them into his car’s trunk, Josh drove us to Shirlington House, where he prepared my dinner. The dinner that I so sorely missed!
He even got nachos for me, and I lovingly dipped them into the guacamole and did not fetter away at the calories I was consuming in my first two hours. I ate with reckless abandon, which is how you’re supposed to enjoy the trip, anyway. The first destination on our itinerary was his hometown in Wakefield, VA. We were going to attend Josh’s friends’ wedding in Surry, so after sleeping peacefully for one night, we packed our bags and got on the road. Unfortunately, since I just came in the night before, I was absolutely sleep-deprived. “Would you mind if I slept?” I asked Josh as we settled into the interstate, my eyes straining to keep awake. Being the good sport that he was, he assured me that it was okay for me to nap as many times as I could during the road trip. I would need all the energy that I could get, after all, especially since we had miles and miles to go. We reached Surry in a little over two hours, and I was happy to meet Josh’s friends from 4-H Camp. He worked there almost all throughout college, and he’s made lifelong friends there. I’m glad I got to meet them, as they were all delightful. I listened and joined in on their conversations, and learned about their camp anecdotes, and of course, their 4H nicknames (Josh’s is Beatz).
Kevin and Kim, his friends who were married that gorgeous day, were beaming with happiness. Kim looked beautiful in her wedding dress, her long hair flowing past her shoulders as she walked to meet her husband down the aisle. They had their reception at a barn, and it was decked out in warm lighting and rustic decor. We filled our plates with cheese and crackers, and ate some grapes while Josh introduced me to some friends from Surry. I was thrilled that I had defied my body’s sense of time! Just less than 24 hours ago I’d been on a plane, and there I was, in my heels and having fun (not yet ready for alcohol though) and not sleepy at all!
After spending some time at the wedding, Josh and I went back to Wakefield to have dinner with his parents. Jim and Tish are always such lovely people; they have always been very hospitable, warm, and friendly to me and I’m happy to spend time with them. They cooked up a hearty meal for when Josh and I got to Old Wakefield Drive, and we just visited on old times when Josh was a kid, and all the tricks he had up his sleeve. I’ve seen videos of five-year-old Josh, and they’re really endearing! “He had a lot of energy,” Jim had told me before, mentioning those times when Josh would do pranks on him. Thanks to his boatload of books at home, with Dr. Seuss and everything, he also had a playful imagination. Josh once experimented putting a Coke bottle in the freezer, and a while after removing it, of course it explodes. Or the time he accidentally broke one of Tish’s plates on the top shelf, and in its place, he put a paper plate with a boy crying. Or well, the many times he’d play pranks on his brother, too. You’ve got to hand it to Josh — he’s pretty creative.
The next day was Easter, and we all celebrated together by going to church and having lunch at Virginia Diner. We met up with Josh’s brother Zach and his girlfriend Katelyn at the church. It was great to see them again after so long! As per their yearly tradition, the brothers usually pose in front of the cross outside the church. That’s exactly what we did again, this time with the girlfriends in tow. We bid our temporary goodbyes after that, as Zachlyn (I don’t think anyone calls them this, but it has the makings of a good hashtag) was off to see Katelyn’s family.
So it was just me, Josh, Jim, and Tish, who ate at the Diner. I have to say, that if you’re ever around Wakefield, you can’t not stop by the Diner and eat their fried chicken. It’s simply lip-smacking. I had gone back for seconds at the buffet, and topped off a delicious meal with some pie. Another thing I usually do at the Diner is grab some peanuts for pasalubong, or gifts to take home to Manila for my family. With Jim’s suggestion, I bought the double dipped chocolate peanuts and some regular salted ones. “You know if I buy these chocolate peanuts, I’ll end up eating them and finishing them,” I told Josh as I scrutinized the can. You can say it was an informed guess, or just intuition, but yes, I was the one who ended up emptying that can.
After our lunch, we went back to Old Wakefield Road and rested before our sojourn back to Northern Virginia. It was a Sunday, and we expected traffic jams on the interstate. Thinking that perhaps the traffic won’t be that bad at 5, we left, and to our dismay, encountered really heavy traffic. To keep us from getting bored, Josh and I would sing to the top of our lungs, with our water bottles as our microphones.
Be it Billy Joel, Destiny’s Child, or Elton John, we got it covered. I even filmed Josh whilst he sang his heart out in Piano Man. We watched the clouds shed their blues and wear their pink and purple hues, until the night became a blanket of stars. We sang, we danced, and we enjoyed ourselves, even when we were waiting, stuck on 95.
Josh is always like magic. The dreary and the annoying can become peaceful and fun. And all of that was just the beginning of our trip.
If there’s one thing that a long distance relationship has taught me in those first few days back, it’s cherishing the present. We never take for granted the time we have with each other, whether we have dates on FaceTime, or we have dates at the 9:30 Club. We know what it’s like to live a day like it’s our last. And it is because of that, that as we sat in the car in the packed interstate, our sunsets burn brighter, Billy Joel more romantic than ever, Pringles are tastier, and kisses are sweeter. Because we are in the moment, and we are together. And in more ways than one, it’s the most peaceful feeling in the world.