When your memory is attached to another person and that person isn’t speaking to you; either he’s dead, or in Guam, or thinks you’re the she-devil incarnate, it’s hard to determine which parts of your memories are true and which are convenient supplements to foggy recollections. So I don’t know if it was spring or fall. I know it was still rainy, so we weren’t in the six weeks of sun that Pacific Northwesterners know as summer. I know we drove, on a Friday night after he got off work, to Port Townsend. It was raining off and on. We stayed with his co-worker Carlos, and his longtime girlfriend, in their trailer on a plot of land. His coworker grilled steaks, we drank, and smoked. Carlos’ girlfriend’s daughter had recently had a baby so she was excited to bring out her grand baby’s equipment to help me put our son down to bed for the night. After I did, I joined the men around the bon-fire and got lit. Carlos’ girlfriend wouldn’t come outside. She didn’t like being out doors. Why did she live in such a rural area? She was inside, cleaning and getting drunk. They had the same couch as us, from Costco. It was my husband’s couch. It still is, though he wasn’t yet my husband at the time and he isn’t yet my ex-husband now.
I was happy Carlos was becoming my ex’s friend. He didn’t seem to have friends. Friends were structures I could understand in our lives together. “Mom”, stay-at-home, inlet, sound, tide, Douglas fir, rainy season, these were realities that were still very outside my internal construct so any scrap of the familiar, even such a basic concept as making a friend, was thrilling to my core. I didn’t really connect with Carlos. I got tired of his proclamations over the fire he’d built, but I was thankful for human connection when came within yards of me. It was nice also, to listen to someone else drunkenly rant for a while.
The next morning we got ourselves together, having just one more, before we hit the road. We meandered into a cute seaside town and got breakfast. My ex did whatever he thought he was supposed to, to make me happy. That included breakfast in restaurants. I was always impressed by his ability to juggle a grabby-handed baby while eating a meal. We walked the cutesy town afterward. Then we drove to the farthest tip of the peninsula. I climbed up on the break wall rocks and let the wind blow every emotion off of me. Our son was sleeping in the car. My not-husband stayed back. I tried to let all the disappointment, longing, fear, alienation, and sadness blow off of me so I could focus on my gratitude, wonder, and love. I loved a man I didn’t know. Life was harder than ever before. I sought ways to come back, refreshed. I walked then to the other side of the thin strip of land. This one looked on to the town and had no wind at all. I examined sun-burnt logs and the sand grass. I sat down feeling heavy and unhealthy. On the log next to where I sat was a Tupperware container. There was no one else on the beach. There were no fresh footprints leading to – or from –the spot, save for my own. In the sand, near the Tupperware, was a half full pack of cigarettes. In the container was a bag of weed and a slightly smoked joint. I’d found a prize. We were supposed to be quitting all these things that weren’t “good for us,” but now I had found a prize. It wasn’t so bad, anyway. My not-husband trying to love me; me trying to love him; the complete undoing still a ways in the distance; and the ocean wind blowing, blowing emotions that never stop but that get predicted like the high and low tides to come.