If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I haven’t uploaded a single photos in the last two weeks. It’s as if I’ve lost interest in photography. After shooting 3,000 photos over the last two years, I’ve discovered the most beautiful image in the face of one woman, and there’s no reason to look at anything else.
Juli and I speak late at night, when our time zones align, and after her son is asleep. We have conversations like whether or not we should change our Facebook relationship status. We decided against it; it serves us no purpose other than adding pressure. Last night, we searched the internet for the most current definition of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” to see if we would quality, but sadly, we did not. Labels always fail me, just like the do in blogging. I never quite fit in.
Readers of this blog are a sappy bunch, and I know you enjoy a good love story, especially before Valentine’s Day, but I’m going to disappoint you. I’m not jumping on a plane and moving to New Zealand just yet. I realize that this is what happens in the movies, but let’s be real– the filmmakers never show you what happens after the plane takes off and the credits roll. I have a mother and friends in the United States. I know very few people in New Zealand.
“Do you believe in soulmates?” she asked me.
We both were unsure. We both were married, in love with other people. This can only mean one thing — there is no such thing as one “soulmate.” A person can have many soulmates in life. The idea of a soulmate is another myth perpetuated by sappy movies.
There is also the delicate issue of her son. I’m more understanding now about the issues surrounding a single mom. To “date” a single mom means — in many ways — dating her child. It is a package deal. I enjoyed playing with Juli’s son. We played Battleship, flew kites, went camping. Juli was very careful that her son knew that I was just a visiting friend, and that HE always came first.
I will return to New Zealand, at least for another visit. This year. But when? It is painful to talk to her on Skype and be separated by wireless data. But a flight to New Zealand is expensive. I need to search for a few more freelance gigs.
Thousands of miles away, in New Zealand, there is a house with a beautiful wooden door. It is a strong and colorful door, lit by the sun, emboldened by the salty sea air. I have the key that opens this door.
“Take it,” she told me at the airport terminal before I left, gently placing it into my right hand.
I keep this key with me all the time now — in my front pocket, in my back pocket, in my shirt pocket — only taking it out before sleep, where I place it on my night stand, next to her photo, and then I dream.