holding the maps

And then there's the girl that I travelled across the country with. It was probably the best few weeks I've ever had, a late August when nothing mattered except the trip. It was the only good August I've ever had. I completely missed the worst parts of it.

It feels like we visited a hundred diners. I don't know how many it was. We lived out of her old Volvo stationwagon. Sometimes we'd stop at a hotel or a hostel for the night. We'd tell everyone we saw, mostly bored waitstaff who maybe even found our story interesting. We'd talk about what we'd seen. We'd seen a lot. We'd been to more cities than some people have ever seen in their lifetimes. We'd seen so many roadside attractions, just to say we had.

We slept under the stars in the badlands in South Dakota, where the land is still sacred, and made love under the open skies of Montana. We got hopelessly drunk and lost in Brooklyn and complained about the pizza in Chicago.

There's one moment that I remember more clearly than all the rest of them, the one I think of when I think about her now. I don't even remember where it was, or if it even really happened. It was the middle of nowhere, some town off I-90, where the waitress couldn't have been more than seventeen and thought we were the coolest people she'd ever seen, and we were looking over the maps--Idaho, it was in Idaho--trying to figure out where we were going. And as I was smoothing out the map she pointed at something and her hand brushed mine and there was just a moment where our eyes met, this moment of perfect clarity.

Before and since we'd done so much more than brush hands so many times, but that's the only moment where we both knew it couldn't last forever. We'd just set out. We tried to make it forever but there's only so much you can do.

When we got back to Seattle we were exhausted, but the timing was perfect and we had just enough time to get blind drunk at the bar where we'd set out, and stagger back to her apartment and thank God she kept a spare key because she left hers in the car which was miles--years--away downtown now, we'd get it in the morning, and then she poured shots of whiskey. And she was laughing when she raised her glass to me and said "Forever!" and we drank to forever.

I blacked out. The next thing I remember is waking up next to her with a terrible headache. She was wearing my shirt. I got myself some water and stole a jacket and left.

We never really talked since. It's been a year, now. She called me once, drunk, at some bar in Ballard. She couldn't hear me, but it's probably for the best. There's really nothing left to say.

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