Long distance is hard. Before leaving I already know the visit will be too short. I'm already heartbroken because I've spent the week researching the realities of moving down to California and the work and cost involved are beyond what I could have imagined.
But I board the full plane to Seattle, my first stopover, and take a deep breath.
In Seattle I decide I need a little splurge. This weekend is about love, and that means self love too. So I go for a 15 minute seated massage and then take myself on a wine tasting date.
I sip slowly. I laugh with the waiters. I read the descriptions then swirl each sip in my mouth and pause. I amuse myself. I think the man across from me is watching in amusement too.
And then, at last, California. My love. Waiting for me in his Canadian Roots sweatshirt and a smile. I am tired, he is kind; his hand feels good in mine.
Back at his place he gifts me a photo frame full of silly pictures of us and I'm touched. It's the perfect gift. We sleep well and warmly, do a couples workout at Gold's Gym, and then head to downtown San Jose to the Fairmont for our mini Valentines getaway.
To our surprise, we are upgraded to a large suite and have a chilled bottle of bubbly waiting for us. I think all of my heartache from our time apart melts away in the first glass.
One of the struggles with a long distance relationship is that even when we're together it can be hard to get alone time or our own space. I've started making more of an effort to plan these mini retreats, something I hope to do throughout our whole relationship when life gets ahead of us.
This one could not have been a more luxurious retreat. It was the biggest room we've ever stayed in. Needless to say, we were happy.
As much as we wanted to go and explore, it was hard to leave our fortress. So we took our time drinking the bubbly left in the room, and eventually, switched to slightly dressier attire.
(Dress is from Lulus.com - bought for the occasion!)
Once we were all spruced up we headed to my favourite place in San Jose - San Pedro Square Market!
The park across from the hotel had fairy lights strung through it, adding to the romance of our walk over.
There, we started our feast with a glass of wine and a beautiful cheese plate at Vino Vino, teasing our senses with the combination of sweet, spicy, and pungent.
We followed our appetizer with a hearty dinner at The Farmer's Union before walking back to the hotel and retiring to our suite.
The next day I snuck out of the room early while Derek slept and went for a swim. When I returned, refreshed, we walked in the sunshine to Philz coffee.
I wore red, and kids with roses whizzed past on on skateboards while a violinist played outside. Philz is one of the coolest coffee joints I've ever been to. They specialize in REALLY good drip coffee, with baristas lined up next to each other, and add cardamon and mint to certain brews. I got a Turkish brew with a mint leave and a splash of cream and was blown away.
Of course I requested a tour of the Winchester Mystery House on Valentine's day. This house was in constant construction for 38 years, with stairs and doors leading nowhere to confuse the ghosts of the Winchester rifle magnate widow. Of course, it is said to be haunted.
Happily haunted we started to make our way to Carmel. With grumbling bellies we pulled into Moss Landing en route, only to find Phil's Fish Market and Eatery had over an hour line-up.
Luckily we found Moss Landing Cafe nearby, and tucked into some comfort seafood dishes to keep us happy for the rest of our drive.
In Carmel we cooked a decadent Valentines feast for our extended Carmel family - Derek's family, the neighbours, and some dear friends of ours. No pictures were taken, but my mama's recipe for chicken in cream and wine sauce was eaten, poetry was read, pink bubbly was poured, and I felt deeply loved and appreciated.
The next day, the sun shone even brighter, and I did not feel ready to go. We walked around, ate sushi on the pier, and talked about life and what was ahead of us.
We drove back to San Jose airport the sun still shining, stopping for garlic ice cream in Gilroy (apologies to my airplane companions), music blasting as we passed all the fields and farms, and then once again, it was time to say goodbye.
I didn't cry this time. He is coming to visit soon, for a longer period of time, and I know we'll figure this whole thing out.
You can't hurry love and you can't stop it either.