I watch the sky unfold from my window. I dress carefully for today. A pretty summer dress, the color of grass, floats over my head and settles over my body. It’s another favorite of mine because it makes me feel old-fashioned. Armed with sturdy hiking boots and a cup of tea, I head out to explore, tugging along an old camera. It was an impulse buy of mine years ago. I wanted to see the world in black and white, but had not realized how much responsibility went into doing so. Objects change when the color washes away. They become sharper, or less so, depending on how you work the camera. I enjoy the work that goes into it, but still feel clumsy with the results. During this trip, I set a goal to take as many pictures as possible, in the hopes of improvement. Perhaps skill will turn to talent during my trip north.
I like the quiet of the morning, and how it awakens with noises, bit by bit. The blanket of colors in the sky continues to open into new and brighter ones. Another urge to paint skyscapes washes over me. I’m full of desires lately, pulled in a tornado of changing directions, wanting to go one way and another, do one thing and another. I want to split myself into a million tiny pieces, so that I can set out on a million paths. Then when everything to be done is done, my million selves will congregate here, at this spot in the forest, to report on all that was witnessed, before melding back into one self. The idea warms me. Framing a tree with my lens, I capture it with a quiet click, accompanied by two more sounds: A small rumbling (my stomach’s alarm clock) and a song from the Stones, ringing from my phone.
Dan and I meet for breakfast at a diner that serves their own version of Kibbles ‘n Bits, which turns out to be biscuits, sausage, and gravy. I push the sausage off to one side with my fork and try to drink my orange juice like a lady, resisting the urge to gulp it down. Dan runs his thumb over my knuckles while we talk. It’s a small movement, but my heart hums in my throat. He tells me that he wants me to visit him in Boston, before I move ahead north. I nod my head, but decide not to say yes just yet. I’m an old pro when it comes to holding back.
The sights to be seen include old streets lined with shops and a few old watering holes, headed in the direction of the Monongahela National Forest. The forest straddles the highest ridges in the state, and is bespeckled with rivers and creeks, shooting off into the ridges below. And there are waterfalls. A joy of mine, since there are none where I grew up. The child in me bubbles over with laughter as we pick our way over wet rocks to one of the smaller falls. I stand directly under the water and let it hit me like a rough shower. The mist from the falls surrounds us. Dan laughs at me and pulls me out of the fall towards the rock wall, where he sits on a small ledge in the wall with me leaning into his lap. I shake my long hair at him like a dog, getting him wet. I grin like a fool, but as I look at him again, I realize how much trouble I’m about to be in. Because here comes the kiss and it’s one hell of a good one. His hand traces down my throat, it quiets me, and with a quick smile he takes me further into the dark. A heart hums louder somewhere, as I let my hands do all the talking.
After, we are both wet and cold. Pleasantly so. We sit with arms around each other to warm up. A long time after we head back to our cars holding hands and swinging them back and forth. Dan looks carefree. By now it’s about noon, and time to head back to the cabin to pack up. He follows me back to shower and clean up and load the car. Laden with promises to call him when I reach Boston, we kiss and part ways. In a few days, I’ll decide to do just that. But first I need to visit an old friend in D.C.
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