Neither one of us were expecting much, since it was a holiday weekend and everything was booked. We’d driven most of the way in total darkness, aside from the headlights of gridlocked traffic on the opposing side of the road, which felt like accusations.
You didn’t see this coming. You didn’t plan ahead.
I told him my days of car camping were over, so the cabin was a pleasant surprise. Despite my chronic optimism, he’d anticipated or perhaps, hallucinated, a maelstrom of criticism. Why weren’t we allowed to hope for luck and a little respite? While I always packed anxiety and popcorn, he carried ingrained voices of violent condemnation. I tried explaining amends once but it was drowned out by thunder and crashing waves.
Convincing him of the good that chased our feet like a swollen high tide, took all my energy. In the fragile wake of a shattered soul, you learn to walk on energetic eggshells. Fortunately, the bed was soft and warm. It enveloped the three of us like the embrace of a reassuring stranger; a fourth party we didn’t know we needed.
When you’re living under the oppressive weight of unconfessed secrets, there’s no such thing as resting in the comfort of love. I didn’t deserve to compulsively punch myself in the mouth with hunger anymore than he deserved whatever it was he did to himself between sunset and rise. Torture is not the path to absolution. We need to feel our way through with invisible intangibles like empathy, humility and truth.
I think we’d had a fire. Sometime after it died, between dreams and yawning, we found ourselves wandering the bleached sandy street for coffee. Where are we? How did we get so lucky? How do we get back?
Despite the blinding light, we found our way. The counter was covered in sticky plastic, spilled sugar and dirty change. We picked up our cups and turned to face the horizon realizing the sky and the ocean were kissing right outside the diner window. As it turned out, we were much closer than we thought.