According to my boyfriend, I have a bad memory.
But, during our trip to Denver this past weekend, my memory was jogging faster than I can.
August 25, 2017: Jacob and I sit quietly in the back of a Lyft and stare out our respective windows. The moon is tinted red, and the clouds take turns covering it. We're speeding down I-70, from the airport to downtown Denver. I'm wondering what it'll be like to see the city again.
January 14, 2016: My mom and I copilot our way from Columbia, Missouri, into Denver. The city is foreign to both of us. We sit in rush-hour traffic on I-70 and watch brown fields turn to warehouses, then to skyscrapers. My stomach churns with anxiousness. I'm starting a new adventure, and, two days from now, I'll be on my own.
August 25, 2017: On our way from the airport to Jacob's brother's apartment, where we'll sleep on an air mattress for the weekend, we stop to grab his keys. The Lyft driver pulls over, and Jacob saunters over to grab the keys. I wait in the back of the car and crane my head to get a peek of the lights stringing the square.
February 9, 2016: I walk from my apartment to Larimer Square. It's getting dark, and the temperature is dropping. I'm meeting a guy I'd chatted with on Tinder for dinner. He's from Orlando. I arrive early, as I always do when I'm nervous, and perch on the cold bench outside the restaurant. "I'm here," I text him. He comes around the corner with a grin across his face.
August 26, 2017: Jacob and I sit in the back seat of a Jeep next to Cinci, a 9-month-old Weimaraner. Her parents, Alyssa, my roommate from grad school who now lives down in Colorado Springs, and John, Alyssa's fiancé, navigate the roads. "Careful for those bikers!" We swing around the turns of Lookout Mountain, headed to our early-morning hike location.
February 26, 2016: Jacob and I are driving back to Denver from Strawberry Springs. We spent the day soaking in the natural hot tubs. We pass a sign for Lookout Mountain. "Wanna go?" Jacob asks. I'm tired, but why not? We twist through the turns of the mountain and stop at an overlook. We pull off and open the back of the SUV. We curl up inside, trying to keep warm, and stare out at Denver's twinkling skyline. The moon is bloated, and we watch it rise.
August 27, 2017: We wander around downtown Denver before having to head back to the airport. We stop by my old apartment. We called it the commune because we never wanted to leave the warm little bubble. We stand on the corner before I suggest we go inside the lobby. Inside, we stare through the windows to the elevator room. It's been painted. We're without the key fob. On the way out, I recognize the janitor pushing his cart towards the bathrooms.
Every time Jacob came over to my apartment: "I'm downstairs," he texts me. "OK, coming," I respond. I rush to make myself look presentable and pull on slippers. I burst through the door and press the down button on the elevator. But usually, when I get to the lobby, Jacob isn't there. He knows I'm not the quickest responder, so he texts me from the corner. Or sometimes he beats me. Those times, he's plastered against the window with a goofy face.
August 27, 2017: We're back in the security line at the airport. Our trip is already coming to an end. Jacob is rolling my bag because I just nearly tumbled down the escalator. I hug my pillow. Every time I left Denver when Jacob and I did long distance: Jacob and I hug for the longest time outside the security line. The lump in my throat overflows into tears and snot as I sniffle goodbye, knowing it'll be at least another month before I see him. I tell him I need to go, and after one last kiss he disappears into the crowds. I get absorbed into the security line and struggle to pull it together, knowing my face is a splotchy red. Finally, I hoist my belongings onto the belt of the X-ray machine. I take my sandals off and stand on my tip toes, hoping to avoid germs. Something makes me look up, and I see Jacob standing at the rail on the level above. He's waving. A fresh wave of tears come over me.
Now: I'm writing this on our flight home — back to Florida. Jacob and I no longer live in Denver. We no longer do cross-country distance. Rather than having to squeeze between armrests and strangers, I'm sitting next to Jacob. We spent the first part of our flight reliving our weekend in Denver, proud of how much we were able to do and see and how amazing the Lumineers were in concert. Now, he's passed out against the window while I work to get better at remembering things. I do everything I can not to lean over and squeeze him tight.