We get started just before noon. The roads are clear but I want to climb in the backseat and hide anyway. Somewhere outside the city he turns on country music and I finish my coffee. Long empty stretches of highway litter this part of my life. And I know years, decades from now, if I am lucky I will remember them this way. I drive them alone. I drive them with him. I drive them with ghosts. It gets easy to look out the window and think retrospectively about the people we have been. Joan Didion said something about them coming back to bang down the door at 4 am demanding to know who betrayed them. Lately I’ve been repeating that line to anyone who will listen, like vocalizing things makes them more true. I don’t know if that’s true.
When we stop to get gas the air has changed outside of the car. It has an undeniably mountain-esque quality like I can taste the pine trees and freeze still stuck to the sides of the road. I take to the edge of the parking lot, stretching and shifting my weight back and forth between my sneakers. I touch my toes. I look over my shoulder to see if he is watching. Across the street from the small gas station is a bar. On the porch of the bar is a man I swear I have seen not once but twice in my life. I am not sure if this is called déjà vu, or what one would call this. This being the same man at the Alpaca farm last spring, and the same man who was my bartender on my way to San Francisco the summer before. The conviction of this is something I feel in my bones. I feel like I am built from it.
Sometimes when I am falling asleep at night I have to move my legs into a million different positions to find out how or who I want to be in my sleep. Sometimes when I am awake it is the exact same story.
When we get high enough into the mountains, high enough where we both feel like we can breathe again, be ourselves again, be someone new again, we do not speak. Instead we sit on the guard rail overlooking a river far down below, shield our eyes from the sun, and chatter out teeth. I do not know what he thinks about. I think about the man on the porch of the bar. And I think about who I have been every time I have seen him. I wondered what it is I would have said each time had I decided to speak. How all those me’s would have made different kinds of conversation. Then I think about how deep my wanting used to go, how much I needed from the world when I was younger– how I ached to ache for something, someone. And then I think about whomever it is I am being right now, how much peace she has. And I hope that later I can remember this about her.