There are, it would seem, distinct phases when it comes to playing the often tedious game of waiting. I have counted four and only one of them is pleasant. As my latest round (I can see the light!) of this caper draws to a close, I am ankle-deep in the best part of the entire thing; the end. Here, days have a certain deliciousness to them as you flit about, doing your thing, knowing that with every passing minute, that expanse of time is irrevocably shortening and come hell or high-water that result you signed up to wait so patiently for, is nigh. Here, all one has to do is merely think about that result, that reward so close it is all but tangible, and stomachs flip and heartbeats – I am sorry – skip.
To get here, there are three mazes to wend one’s way through, three big walls to scale. Three points at which to present, flushed of cheek and out of breath – or tried and entirely fed up – to get a little stamp that permits entry to the next phase. And each new phase is a little different from the last and, to my mind, it doesn’t simply start hard and smoothly progress to a state of easiness.
Let’s say, for arguments sake, you are waiting for the arrival of a loved one, which throws in the added element of shit that is a long distance relationship. And the period of time is around four months. 127 days. 3,048 hours. 182,880 minutes. 10,972,800 seconds. All of those crumbs of time can be separated into the following;
The First Week or Two
Difficult. This is the period in which you spend a lot of time thinking ‘this is ridiculous, we should just go back to the way things were’ which may sometimes include getting back on a plane and flying back across the world for another 24 hours. Nights can be spent, somewhat dramatically, staring at the ceiling and feeling overwhelmed. There is a lot of ‘I miss you’ and, I am embarrassed to say, a lot of dissolving into tears.
The Next Little While
Better. Routine kicks in. Distractions abound. Days have a shape and a purpose to them that they didn’t during those first couple of weeks. You remember why this period of time was necessary and gorge on all it can offer. Days slide off the side of the world, never to be seen again and suddenly, when you Google ‘how many days until December 1st’ the big, fat number on the screen isn’t 89, it is 40! 39! 38! This is easy! We have practically made it!
The Part Before the End
The worst. The routine, the distractions, they no longer work. Nothing seems big enough, exciting enough, solid enough to truly grab and hold your cranky attention. 34 days, 33 days, 32 days, it all seems too far away. That final chocolate in the advent calendar seems like a mirage, shimmering in the distance. You are tired, emotional, fed up. The space is too great and the time too long not to crawl so far into your own head you drive yourself a little crazy. Your temper is short, your outlook morose, your questioning of the entire situation endless, without the balm of the missed connection present, touchable.
The Final Week
Wonderful. Fizzy. The best parts of anticipation hand-picked and tossed into your atmosphere, to buzz around and make everything light and colourful. No matter what you do, no matter how you pass your days, that result is screaming towards you, or you towards it. You are screaming towards each other. 7 days! 6! 5! You and time are suddenly the best of friends, on the same page, holding hands. For once you aren’t begging it to slow down or hurry up. This is easy, this is nothing, this is going to happen and there is nothing you can do it stop it.