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.
Sometimes when I’m pouring my coffee, I like to imagine I’m a server at a small diner in the middle of nowhere. I’m getting that table of four their coffee first thing in the morning. They’ve clearly been up all night. Their rugged attire and laid-back attitudes had me assuming they’re musicians. No one around here had ever seen them before.
I brought them their coffee and asked if they were ready to order. The one wearing a leather jacket and smelled strongly of cigarettes turned to me with a flirtatious smile, I made another assumption that he was their lead singer.
“We’re ready.” He said kindly. I couldn’t make out his accent, but he definitely wasn’t from around here. It sounded southern. But this was upstate Maine, three hours from the nearest city.
I took their orders and their accents became more prominent. It was southern, no doubt. Maybe Kentucky or maybe Texas. I asked where they were from.
“I thought you’d never ask.” The charismatic lead singer said with a grin much too big. I didn’t trust him. He reminded me of my ex who would go on vacations with his friends and come back with more notches on his bedpost. I know it was unfair of me to assume this of him, but when you’ve been burnt like I have, it’s hard not to.
It was early. We had just opened. The rush hadn’t yet begun. Around here, the rush doesn’t start until 8. The table of four were the only ones in here besides a few older folks at the bar.
I watched the table of musicians talk among themselves. The radio being right next to me, I couldn’t make out what they were saying. All I could hear was melodies and an off-tune voice. I realized I never knew if they were musicians. I just assumed. I always assume. It’s how I stay safe.
This is just a little fictional piece I thought of this morning while making coffee, based on my bad habit of assuming things of people before I get to know them.
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.
The rain out my window holding me captive in my bed until it lets up. I toss and turn, but can’t bring myself to pull down the covers, afraid to introduce myself to the cold that is Not My Blankets. So, I pull them up to my shoulders, curl up into a ball, and fall back asleep once again. Time passes and suddenly it’s afternoon. Did I really spend all morning in bed? The rain has let up, but now I’m just groggy. A wave of uselessness takes over me and I force myself up.
I brew a cup of coffee and figure out ways to salvage this day. The grogginess never seems to disappear as I scroll through social medias and notifications from my lengthy sleep. I spend the rest of the day yawning, cursing myself for sleeping in, and not doing much of anything. But it’s good to have days like today, I reassure myself as I drift off to sleep again that night.
The wind was harsh, cutting into our faces like daggers, leaving us red in the face and nearly frostbitten. The dead of winter never felt so dead as we trudged down the road to the gas station to pick up hot chocolate mix. It was ironic, the heat wasn’t kicking on at our apartment, so we nearly got frostbite trying to buy something that’ll warm us up. If we make it, it’ll be a story to tell, but for now I just want to get out of the snow. The snowshoes we dug out of the closet were sinking into the snow more than usual.
“I think it’s time to get new snowshoes.” I yelled through the tunnel of wind.
“What?” Eva yelled back, squinting to see me through the snow still falling.
“Need new snowshoes!” I said simply.
“Yap!” Eva said, or that’s what it sounded like. She said something else, but it was muffled behind the snow.
I paused, turned around, and squinting said, “Huh?”
“Never mind, go.” She put her hands on my shoulders and turned me around, patting my shoulders before letting me go.
Though the cold tried to break through my spirit and render me useless, having Eva with me to make this two-mile trek kept me warm.