As I drove her to the airport, I told myself I would be strong. It wasn’t “goodbye” so much as “see you later”. The truth is, she was coming back in less than 5 weeks.
4 weeks, 3 days and 22 hours. Not that I was counting.
As those three big letters came into view, I started to feel a knot in my throat.
As I passed the giant “L”, I had to look the other way. I couldn’t face those beautiful blue eyes and be able to keep it together in any manner befitting a man of 30.
She knew what I was feeling, because she knows everything about me. Every thought, every emotion, every fear. So she knew my heart was breaking.
As I pulled up to the curb and put on my hazards, I reached for my sunglasses and immediately felt them fog up.
We got her bags from the trunk and placed them on the curb. As I went to tell her that this felt like death, she put her hand to my lips. Then she kissed me.
At this point, I lost it. The tears poured forth from my eyes. I was crying like a little girl.
“Please don’t go, I love you too much,” I whispered in her ear, breathing in deeply the aroma of her long, blonde hair. I begged her like a little child who doesn’t want Daddy to go away on a business trip.
She was stronger than me, though. She said nothing, smiled at me and turned. She picked up her bags and walked into the terminal.
I wanted to run after her, but I didn’t. If she could be this strong, the least I could do was not be a total idiot and cause a scene.
People were honking so I got back in my car and turned to look, one last time, hoping she would be running back to me, telling me she didn’t care about the practicalities of our situation, that she loved me and she wanted to be with me right now and forever and that’s all that mattered to her…
But she wasn’t running back to me. She was picking up her ticket at the counter. She was so strong.
I started up my car and pulled into traffic. For a moment, I thought I would be ok. I would be talking to her on the phone in probably five or six hours. I had lived my life like this for nearly one whole year and I had survived.
Every time it felt the same. It didn’t get better or easier, it actually got worse. But every time I did get over it. I lived through it. My heart was not broken, I was not really dying.
I was going to be ok. Or so I thought.
As I pulled onto the 405, I experienced a feeling of panic and dread unlike none I had ever felt before. The world was violently spinning all around me, the interior of my car seemed to suddenly reach 120 degrees, my stomach heaved in painful spasms.
I quickly pulled over into the breakdown lane. I couldn’t breathe. I opened my door and threw up. The air hit my face and I felt some relief, as if I was swimming upwards out of the water from a great depth.
But the dread was still there. I had to do something.
Love will make you do some crazy things and I admit I was not thinking rationally at the moment. It’s not an excuse, just an explanation of where I was at.
I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I asked the emergency dispatcher if I could be put through directly to the airport. I was.
I told the official at the airport that there was a woman about to board American Airlines flight 2301 with a bomb in her bag. I gave them her description, what she was wearing, what the bag looked like, everything.
I really don’t know what I was thinking. All I know is, at the time, a holding cell in the same state for a few days sounded better than living in freedom 3000 miles from the woman I loved.
I figured they’d probably arrest her and keep her around while they checked out her background and all that. There might even be a court appearance we’d both have to go to where I cleared her name and fell on my knees in front of the judge and pleaded temporary insanity for reasons of love.
It actually sounded quite romantic.
Instead, they arrested her and to my surprise, found the bomb she was carrying in the exact bag I told them it would be in.
Now I was a big hero. I was in all the papers because I had saved the lives of 237 people that day. Larry King had called me personally to ask me to be on his show. Luckily, the manager I had gotten a few hours after the incident was playing hardball with his people so they wouldn’t take advantage of me and not give to me what was owed of a celebrity of my caliber.
It turns out my girlfriend hadn’t been who she claimed to be. In fact, she wasn’t even a “girl” at all. There was no “Jane Everywoman”, that was a fake name she had used to enter the country as part of a big terrorist plot.
Her name was Mohamed Al-Jeeri Islamabad and she was a 47 year old Muslim cleric from Riyadh.
Like I told Lesley Stahl, looking back in hindsight, the signs were there that she was not who she claimed to be, but when you’re in love, you don’t notice little inconsistencies in speech patterns, or holes in someone’s backstory, or a long, flowing, grey beard.
So that brings me to today. Everyone thinks I’m a big hero, but really I’m a total fraud. By some crazy coincidence, I’ve saved the lives of 237 people but the only one I really care about is the one nobody, not even her, is considering.
Because I love her, I love Mohamed Al-Jeeri Islamabad. I know she was using me, I know you’re going to say that she never felt anything for me, but I don’t believe that. Not in my heart.
What we had was real. Those feelings were real.
Next week, when I’m dining with the President and the First Lady, I’m going to wish I was somewhere else. With her, in that cold jail cell. As we feast on roasted duck in a raspberry vinaigrette sauce, I’m going to imagine it’s the stale bread and water my beloved is consuming.
It’s like when I signed my seven-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster and everyone was shaking my hand and the reporters were asking me what it was like to be a national icon, I knew that I would trade all the fame and money for just five minutes of peace and quiet, alone with my soulmate, away from all the prying eyes of the media.
Everywhere I go, I carry her with me in my heart. And I will be there on the day she is put to death. When the state issues its decree and all the appeals have been exhausted and those toxins enter her bloodstream and she closes her eyes and goes to sleep forever.
Well, not physically with her. Most likely I’ll be in my beach house in Aruba or hanging out with Charlie Sheen in Cannes or something like that. But certainly not in some dirty, filthy prison, surrounded by criminals. I’m a big star now and I don’t believe the officials could guarantee my safety in a situation like that.
Anyway, that is my story of love and heartbreak, trust and betrayal. I stand before you a broken shell of a man and believe me when I say that it doesn’t hurt any less that the shell is made out of 24 carat platinum gold. Not even when it’s covered in precious diamonds and rubies.
All the money in the world can’t buy you happiness and all the fame and adoration of the public can’t fix a broken heart. Not without good looks and talent. Which is why I’m going in for some plastic surgery and acting lessons.