Two Ships Passing

photo by Amanda Castle Photography
Two Ships Passing

His alarm goes off at 4:30 most days. At least that's what he tells me – I've never actually been awake to confirm. Uniform on, gear squared away, out the door before I even begin to think about crawling out of bed. Before I even begin to think, period.

I don't get to see him in the mornings, yet I do. The cup of coffee, extra creamer, waiting for me on the nightstand. The freshly ironed clothes draped over the end of the bed, ready for me to wear to work. The text message on my phone: Safely here. I cleaned the cat's litter box this morning, so don't worry about that. Your lunch is in the fridge. Miss you already. I love you.

Our days are long, although mine don't involve running seven miles around a semi-frozen lake in the middle of a winter storm. Mine also don't involve spending eight straight hours in a classroom, a classroom where both coffee and cell phones are prohibited.

I don't get to see him in the afternoons, yet I do. The instax photo taped up next to my office computer, his face covered in scruff I've secretly missed these past six months. The ring he gave me almost four years ago, occasionally catching my gaze as my fingers move across the keyboard. The hand-written note stashed in my desk drawer: I hope you're having a good day at work. Missing you lots. I love you.

My work day ends well after his, and somewhere between the extra hours at the office, the commute, the traffic, any of his remaining energy has faded by the time I get home. If the stars align, we might get thirty minutes together before he drifts off to sleep on the couch. The stars rarely align.

I don't get to see him in the evenings, yet I do. The stack of dishes in the sink, the smell of dinner still lingering in the air. The pair of black boots by the door, buffed and shined and ready to do it all again tomorrow. The phrases he mutters in his sleep, mostly gibberish, something about taking a shower and a rebel army and wait, what was that?

I love you, too.

Our lives at the moment look a lot like two ships passing in the night. Yet we continue, continue treading water until we get a chance to catch our breath, or even better, to swim. We continue to make the most of the time we get to spend together. We continue to remember that this, too, is just a phase, that all dreams require hard work and sacrifice, that the end result is almost always worth it.

For now, we continue to pass like two ships; yet as long as we keep sailing in the same direction, toward the same dot on the horizon, I think we'll be just fine.