It rained on the day we went up to the mountains. It rained and we stayed in our car for the most part, eating takeout from a nearby restaurant. We planned to eat it by the waterfall, but our sandwiches would’ve been soggy. We sat parked on a cliff-side, overlooking the mountains, the greens and reds and oranges and yellows of the treetops swaying gently with the breeze. We sat silent for a while as we took in the overwhelming feeling, the largeness of it all. We ate our takeout, but we didn’t feel worthy to be there in all the beauty. This moment was bigger than us. And I remember you said quietly and defiantly, “Someday, this will be home.”
We told ourselves we wouldn’t care if the world ended. We said we wouldn’t care because we’d be spending our last moments with each other. And it was late, it was so late, but we couldn’t go to sleep yet, we had to be up for the sunrise. We promised ourselves we’d stay up and watch the sunrise together on our first night of living together. And we realized it was a silly idea, but we both took a week off work to get settled in our new apartment- which might’ve also been a silly idea, but we didn’t care.
We stayed up for the sunrise and we fell asleep right before it happened out our back window. We fell asleep on the couch around 5 am and didn’t wake until noon. We laughed about it when we woke up and realized we missed the sunrise. But we didn’t care. Our favorite show was paused on the living room TV while we got up and made breakfast.
You made a joke about missing the sunrise and I said it was a silly idea to begin with. I hadn’t been up that late since college, and you hadn’t since you started your first real job. You made pancakes and I made coffee. It wasn’t anything huge, but I felt closer to you than I ever had that morning. You resumed our favorite show and we spent the day unpacking while it played in the background. We were finally where we were meant to be.
And someday we’ll find ourselves in different places, in different homes, with different lovers and we’ll decide to reconnect. Maybe we’ll see each other on the street, or someone will mention something that reminds us of each other, and we’ll reach out and we’ll reconnect.
You’ll tell me about how you’re happier now than you ever thought you could be. I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to and you’ll listen. We’ll make jokes and remember what it was like when we were once so close. We’ll wonder why we ever drifted apart, conveniently forgetting what happened between us that day when we thought the world would end. And I remembered it for a while, and I cried for a while, but I got over it, and I got over you.
But it wasn’t like I didn’t think about you, and it wasn’t like I didn’t look for you when I went by your old house. You told me you moved two years ago. I’ll say, “has it really been that long?” and you’ll say, “it’s been six years, man.” And I’ll feel sad. And you’ll feel sad. And we’ll agree to stay in touch, but I’ll tell you I’m only in town this week then I’m going back to the city, and you’ll look at me like you’re proud, and I’ll feel like crying.
And in that moment, I won’t be able to even think about what broke us apart. I remembered us staying friends for a long time. And we were there for each other through everything. And somewhere along the way, we separated.
We’ll be reminiscing about our conversations and I’ll be surprised by how many details I remembered, and then I’ll remember that we stopped talking because of something so stupid and so trivial that I laugh out loud in the coffee shop. And you’ll ask me what I’m laughing for and I’ll tell you. And you’ll look at me, chuckle once, and shake your head.
“Foolish,” you’ll say, and I’ll agree.
I left the house in a rush. In one burst of manic energy, I packed for a couple days. I was at the point where I couldn’t think about anything but getting away. Anywhere was better than here. In a perfect world, I would’ve thought for months about this trip, but the fact that I didn’t have a plan made it more exciting.
It felt like everything that happened these last few months, all the pain and exhaustion, it was all leading up to my break anyway. This was bound to happen. I wouldn’t consider it a break, but my best friend called it that when I showed up at her door with a text, “Hey. You’re coming with me. We’re going to the mountains.”
“You’re crazy,” was her answer. I wouldn’t have expected any less. She packed her bags and was down in fifteen. From the driveway, she looked insane. More insane than I was. Her black hair was put into a messy ponytail with flyaways illuminated by the midday sun. She wore a gray sweatshirt and black leggings. Her backpack, stuffed full of clothes and camping equipment, was a forest green and held her sleeping bag atop it.
“I need this more than you do.”
She told me that as she threw her backpack in the backseat of my SUV.
“Hold on, do you have a tent?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
“Uh, no. Don’t you?” I replied.
“My brother is using it this weekend.” She groaned. I rolled my eyes.
I wasn’t sure when it was that it set in that I was an insane, spontaneous person, but by the fourth hour of our road trip, it had crossed my mind a few times. Emma loved me for it. She could always count on me for a last-minute mania induced trip in which we find ourselves, only to lose ourselves when we come back to work the following Monday.
We laughed. We laughed a lot. The entire drive was filled up with conversation, never a dull moment. Never a moment to think about just getting stood up or not getting that promotion I really could’ve used to fuel these trips. I didn’t think about the date I was supposed to go on until Emma had fallen asleep and as I laid on the hard ground, the only way to distract myself from the pain my back felt was by thinking about the pain my now-ex caused.
I realized a while ago that I shouldn’t let myself get wrapped up in someone like him, someone still obviously going through his partying college days even though he dropped out two years ago. I knew he was bad news, Emma tried to tell me, but I didn’t care. I liked the way he looked at me when I told a story, and I liked the way he laughed too long when I told a bad joke. I liked how his hair looked in the morning before he showered, and I liked how he’d cook breakfast for me.
I knew the mountains wouldn’t have an answer, and I didn’t care. It was a distraction at least and at most it would be another story to tell: two way-too-stressed 20-something’s go on another spontaneous trip in attempt to find themselves, only to find themselves with smaller bank accounts and bags under their eyes.
So, I changed my major again. But this time, it’s what I’m genuinely interested in: Fiction Writing! My classes start in January and I’m excited. When I was going to the community college, I had my major as writing at first because that was the closest they had to creative writing (aka my one true love), but I changed it to a general major when I started taking classes that didn’t qualify under the writing major. But I’m excited to be back to writing!
My first few classes are just basic classes I never took at community college, so I won’t start any writing classes for a couple months, but nonetheless! It is a venture I’m excited to be making, and I finally feel confident in my major choice. It’s taken me way too long to figure out what I want to major in. I mean, I’m 22, I should’ve already graduated! But everyone goes at their own pace, so I’m not upset.
Jakey had enough. The relentless screaming matches followed by forced tears and attempted apologies from his parents had finally broken him. He took nothing but the clothes on his back as he marched determinedly towards Monument Pier.
It was late, Jakey was unsure the exact time, but the sun had already set. The only light source was the streetlamps intermittently illuminating the sidewalk. He was lucky, well, lucky was one way of putting it, to live only a mile from Monument Pier. Lucky because that was his escape, he felt free at the pier. He could sit with his legs dangling off the edge of the boardwalk and listen to the tide push and pull, the commotion of Boston Harbor echoing softly. The occasional horn of a boat leaving the harbor would carry down towards Monument Pier and Jakey would daydream about what the boat had planned. Were they a rescue boat out to save someone drowning? Or were they a transportation boat, just making their rounds?
Jakey liked to imagine it was pirates. He was always fascinated with pirates. He had his own spin, though. They were never bad pirates. They didn’t steal or loot or kill, they just lived at sea. He was always interested in pirates, ever since he was a child. Before his father turned to alcoholism and was forced to retire, he was a ship captain for the Monument Pier Security. He would tell Jakey about the criminals they caught and Jakey would imagine they were pirates because he was 10 and what other criminals are out at sea besides pirates? Jakey loved hearing his father’s stories and he wished nothing more than to be able to hear one again, but the most his father does now is complain about the TV not working or the alleged rude cashier at the liquor store.
His father was lucky enough to have the savings to retire, Jakey was too young to understand how hard that is for people nowadays. His father had been in the Marines for ten years before being ship captain, he was discharged when Jakey was 5 and struggled a lot. That was when the yelling started.
Jakey made it to the pier, fighting off tears along the way. His head swimming with angry thoughts and suicidal ideations as he sat down at the end of the dock. A few fishing boats lined the dock, Jakey wished he brought his phone so he would know when to expect the fishermen. The last thing he wanted was to be around anyone, never mind his nosy, upbeat fishermen neighbors.
The dock was wooden and uneven, various nails sticking up and loose boards throughout. Jakey knew sitting here for too long would get uncomfortable, but he didn’t have anywhere else to go. The coffeeshop he frequents closed at sunset and this was the only place he could ever truly be alone.
He sat and listened to the waves crashing, looking out at the city skyline. It was beautiful, he couldn’t deny that. The city at night was incredible. Almost enough to stop the recurring thought in his head that uttered those two words repetitively.
“Jump in, jump in, jump in,” his depression echoed.
“Stop,” He spoke, tears welling up.
“Jump in,” It didn’t even sound like his own thought, as though coming from a demon possessing his body with strictly bad intentions.
“I can’t.” His voice cracked, mouth going dry.
“You must. It is the only option.” The voice hissed. He couldn’t argue any more, his voice of reason gone, all he could think of was how cold would the water be? And his clothes would get all wet. Should he take his shoes off first?
It seemed to happen in slow motion. Effortlessly, like he was being dragged in by an invisible force. Before he knew it, he was completely immersed. He didn’t even take his shoes off.
Our friend came out to us last night,
in an emotional speech surrounded by loved ones.
We were still on the road,
now in Nebraska.
She FaceTimed us and told us she was trans.
She had her friends over,
the moment felt right.
I wished I could’ve hugged her.
You and I talked about gender and sexuality for a while
well after the call ended.
I learned you once contemplated not being cis.
I did too, back in high school.
I told you I loved that we were still learning about each other.
You smiled and agreed.
We were on the road,
on a street we’d never seen,
in a car you only bought a month ago,
but I couldn’t have felt more at home.