I woke up before my alarm. What woke me was much more pleasant than the highly unpleasant sound of my phone’s alarm.
I sat up, wide-eyed in a matter of minutes. Surprisingly, not even four hours of sleep weighed down on my eyes or my entire body. And it’s as if the rain cleansed out all the negative emotion I tried to sleep away – the anxiety, stress, sadness.
I did love the rain. It didn’t rain nearly as much here in Cliffdale as I would like, but the deprivation of the things you love makes you love it, even more, when it arrives. I remind myself of that all the time.
While I may be praising the skies for raining down on us today, Mrs. Higbee was sure to be cursing at it later. She thought of rain as a major inconvenience, especially for a day of traveling. Until I had to hear her grumbles and mumbles about the wetness, I slid back under the covers and listened attentively to all the sounds around me.
To my left, there was a peculiar thump, thump, thump on the roof, going at the pace of a heartbeat. Farther down and down below, the rain hit the roads outside fast and hard. And to my right, just on my bedside table, was the sound of faint snoring. I turned on my side to look at my computer screen. I didn’t know if it was raining up where Liam was, but it was still early enough in the morning that the lack of sunlight meant I couldn’t see him yet. It was only seven in the morning, but I couldn’t possibly go back to bed now.
The nerves were settling in, and I was becoming anxious again for my time away with the Higbees. Trying not to dwell, I wrapped myself in a thinner blanket and got busy.
By the time my actual alarm rang at ten am, I was fully dressed and completely packed for the five day trip we were to have for the birthday of Mrs. Higbee’s father. I had put myself on mute as I busied myself and turned my laptop towards my headboard so that the lights of the hallway and bathroom didn’t shine on Liam as he slept and my noise didn’t wake him. He started to turn as I came back into the room to answer a call.
“Olivia?” It was Carrie. She was the nanny, or caregiver, for Mr. Higbee’s mother. She used to be the nanny of the Higbee children until Miss Ada became more and more prone to falling, and needing just general help in general. Carrie’s been around a lot longer than I have. We haven’t talked much since I started working for the family. It has, after all, been only a few months since I got this job.
“Yeah, hey. What’s up?” I said, taking the laptop from my bedside table as Liam turned to face the camera.
He looked at me with half-open eyes for a moment, smiling when I waved and put a finger to my lips. He nodded but whispered, “Unmute me.”
“Our flight leaves at one, right? And we’re to be at the Higbees by eleven?” Carrie asked.
“Mhm, we have to be there by eleven so that we can all leave together for the airport.”
A car door slammed shut as she cursed. “Okay, right. Well, I got a dilemma. I need to pick up Ada’s medication at the pharmacy but my car won’t start, and I don’t think I have enough time to handle that whole situation right now. Do you think you could pick up Ada’s medication and, possibly, give me a ride?”
“Oh!” I looked at my stuff, trying to process if I have everything I needed. Where’s my passport? Do I have my boarding pass? “Uh, yeah, I can do that. There’s a pharmacy not too far from where I live.”
She let out a big breath of air. I could only imagine the morning she’s been having while I’ve been leisurely getting ready to the sounds of rain and Liam snoring. “Great. All you need is her last name and her date of birth, so I’ll text that to you now, as well as my address.”
I nodded. “Got it. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
“Thanks so much, Olivia. See you soon.”
As soon as Carrie hung up, I practically leaped from my position on the bed. Liam laughed when I disappeared out of view. “I need to make sure I have everything I need, and now I need to hurry!” I called to him, frantic as I ran into the bathroom for my makeup bag. The skies really deserved my praising now for waking me early enough to make sure I had everything. I would surely have forgotten something if I had woken up to an errand run.
I carried Liam with me as I went into the hallway for my coat and umbrella, to the kitchen to grab a snack, and to the living room so I can put on my boots.
“Okay,” I huffed, straightening and taking my keys from the bowl. “I’ve got to run. Quite literally.”
I was in a rushed state of mind, calculating in my head how much time each task would have to take in order for me and Carrie to make it to the Higbees in time. It took only a glance down at Liam for all of that to pause, or at least slow down. Although dark in his room, it’s finally early enough for some morning light to illuminate his face enough for me to see his deep blue eyes. He was still smiling, that half-smile that I love and miss seeing so much. He was giving me that look. It was soft and admiring, and I always called it…
“There’s that look of love,” I teased.
He chuckled. “Because look at you, being on top of things and lending a hand. You’re such a rockstar.”
My heart ached, wishing I could reach across the screen and wrap my arms around him and never let go. “Thank you.”
“And I know you’re going to be a rockstar on this trip. Okay?
“Okay.” I smiled, but it was tight and not at all convincing.
“You’ll. Be. Great,” Liam said, bringing the screen closer and closer to his face. “And it’ll be fun! Think of the snow.”
I couldn’t help the small gasp.“I do like snow.”
He bobbed his head in a quick, silly way, before sitting up. I glanced at the time at the top of the screen. “Gotta get ready for class?” I asked.
He nodded again. “I do. Still, text me when you get to the airport and such. Keep me updated until you take off.”
“You know I will. Call tonight?”
“I’ll let you know when,” he said. He placed me down on the edge of his bed and got down on his knees to look at me, resting his chin on his arms so that he was level with me. “You’ll be okay, Liv. Promise. And I’m here if you need me.”
“I know,” I said quietly. Even if he couldn’t be here with me physically, he always makes sure to be there for me the best that he can. For that, I will always be grateful.
“Good,” he said with a wide smile. “I love you.”
“And I love you,” I replied with my own smile, bright and true. I blew kisses to the screen and Liam waved until I hung up the call. Ten hours and twenty one minutes. That’s how long we were on call.
Going weeks and sometimes months without being in the same place together, our form of communication comes mainly from text, call, and video calls. Keeping each other on video call through the night is a great way to make us feel like we’re a lot closer to each other than we actually are. Liam’s ten hours away, but we talk every single day in one way or another. With long distance relationships, communication is crucial in a lot of ways. Even when we can tell there’s something off, it’s important to express how we feel because it’s nearly impossible to know through text or call. Other things like a picture, video, voicemail, or voice memo help keep our connection strong as well.
Liam and I have been long distance for well over a year now. We met during freshman year in college and have been together ever since. Liam attends graduate school further upstate. We’ve been through all the trials and tribulations of distance to figure out the routines and ways to be strong no matter where no matter what. Distance doesn’t matter as long as I love him and he loves me.
Until that distance closes between us, I’ll be living my days out here. In Cliffdale. As a nanny for kids who don’t like that I took their old nanny’s job.