Rockies on my right
In the end, it was simple, but then again, most things, when concentrated to their essences, are.I packed my swimsuit before flying out west, even though I knew it would be too cold to swim outside. They promised that the hot tub would be nearer than I believed, and that once I got in it, I would … understand.
It was, and I did.
Monday night found me, mind wide open, desperately stuffing my brain with memories in the hope that something, anything, would stick. Forks to the left of the stove, flour third shelf up, larger pots to the right of the stove. Booze on top of the fridge, out of my reach; the shower in the hallway bathroom that drained slower than the one in the back.
Memory, leave me something - I lose so much on a daily basis; give me this, on days when I was happy, for the days that will inevitably come when I am not, so that I may remember the taste of these moments that, inevitably, go…
Monday night found me in a blue swimsuit - quick, think: which hand, Amy? - left hand reaching for my glass of rum and Coke, right hand trailing in the water. Words. Plenty of them, many of them gone for good now; Chris' feet closest to me, propped up in the chaise since he didn't want to get in the water. Jake, shirtless, contemplative, walking from one side of the hot tub to another, head facing the water so that it was minutes before I realized that he had taken off his glasses.
The metal of the stair rail, cold and slick against my neck as I sat sideways on the stairs, reclining against the rail. Water, hot and still due to jets that stubbornly refused to work, keeping my legs and torso warm.
With my feet propped against the nearest wall of the hot tub, everything above my ankles stayed submerged while my feet were left in the chill. I would rub my toes against the smooth concrete, letting my toes listen for the tiny rasping burrs, reminding myself that I really should get around to repainting my toes that lovely mauve before coming home and donning sandals again.
For a moment, I regretted my forgetfulness; I had planned to take my cell phone out to the hot tub and call Brian, laughing, from the hot tub, to let him rejoice in the sound of my stressless voice, but then we started joking again, and I forgot that I had forgotten.
I never made the call, and it took me nearly a week to remember the forgetting.
* * * * *
I woke up with a jolt when I realized that someone was in the room with me; my inability to sleep well in strange locales is virtually legendary. I did not need my glasses. It was too early to be Jake, so it must be Chris.
He patted me on my head, smoothed the hair out of my eyes, and said, "Sleepy kitty." We talked in words that were immediately lost to me, and he hugged me, and that was goodbye. He grabbed his keys from the shelf by the door, and that was all.
I pushed back sleep in the hopes of getting things done. Jake would sleep for several hours more; time enough for me to bake the last set of brownies, pack my things, and perhaps remember to eat.
I looked around, somewhat bewildered that the friend who had just gone on to work, the friend whose things were scattered all around me in this room, was someone I would not see in the flesh again for another three months.
I baked the brownies and packed my things, knowing that I couldn't finish without Jake's help, then showered and went back to sleep.
I woke up with a jolt when I realized that someone was in the room with me; my inability to sleep well in strange locales is virtually legendary. I did not need my glasses. It was too late to be Chris, so it must be Jake.
"What time is it?" He told me. I panicked. "Why did you let me sleep so long?"
"Silly kitty. You needed the sleep."
He rummaged in the spare closet for a box I could use to pack my new-to-me sweaters, and we went to pick up my rental car. This time, there would be no goodbye at the airport; instead, the locking of an apartment door and a solo drive to Denver. The responsibility of getting home sat squarely on my shoulders, and the man putting on his sunglasses in the car beside me was one I would not see again until January.
* * * * *
I headed south on I-25 in a rented car, wishing I could take this sensation of calm, open space and wrap it around me. Wishing a photo would do it justice. Wishing words would. It took me several minutes to realize that the air was crisp and clean around me, and to comprehend that the lovely panorama on my right consisted of the Rocky Mountains. I wished that I would remember this, wished that this moment would not evaporate the moment I got on the plane, and picked up my phone. I called Jody, because I knew, somehow, that he would understand.
"You sound more peaceful and relaxed than you have in a long, long time."
In the end, it was simple, but then again, most things, when concentrated to their essences, are: clear air, clear sky, the road ahead of me and the Rockies on my right. Later that afternoon, I boarded a plane and closed my eyes. In a life in which many things have been too much, too fast, too loud, too little, or not quite, this was, simply, enough.