One day, we just did it. You flew in late one night and we watched your plane descend from the beach, making its way out of the stars and flickering planets. Driving to the airport made our chests tighten just a little, knowing that in mere weeks we would be driving this same road in our clean jeans, jackets stuffed into our carry-on bags, our second home gone for another eleven months.
For days we’d been talking casually about the secret places we’d take you, surprised by our excitement at sharing the place we’d discovered together ten years ago. Neither of us had seen you in a few months, and it was exciting to anticipate your cute phrases and mannerisms. Our best couple-friend.
I hopped out of the car at the tiny terminal and saw you waiting for your bag, smiling haggardly with multiple vintage guitar and banjo cases, your clothes stuffed into the same green messenger bag you always bring to do laundry at our house. You were exhausted but I knew we’d stay up half the night snacking and gossiping.
The next day set the pattern: sleeping in, taco lunch, guilty tanning, surfing, swimming, guitars on the beach. Sunset walks while avoiding the frogs in the middle of our quiet street. A movie or book before bed. At night I cooked big lazy meals and you washed the dishes and we drank beer and talked about everything.
We talked about the music business and chocolate and anarchism and how to have a heart while trying to make a living. You asked us for advice about your band. We discussed buying land and building houses, debated the benefits of the bi-coastal lifestyle, shared experiences with the Master Cleanse (some, lots, and none). We listened to new favorite albums and critiqued drum sounds and vocal miking techniques, and I did a pretty good job at keeping up with the lingo.
When I felt jittery like I get when I don’t think I’m being productive enough I went to the little independent coffeehouse across from the beach you liked for its gentle surfing waves and caught up on email, did long-distance work for various volunteer projects, wrote long letters to friends with lavishly decorated envelopes, doodled in my journal, resisted the urge to pet pictures of my faraway cats, made overly optimistic but excitingly long lists of ways to improve my business, my interpersonal relations, my vocabulary, my anger, my activism, my heart.
We wandered off by ourselves, we ran races, we hiked without talking for long stretches. We walked on secluded beaches with our eyes closed, reaching our arms out for the safety each other’s bodies. We took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. We shot movies of each other shooting movies of each other. Twice.
We had space for each other’s weaknesses: excessive blog posting, excessive self-taken pictures, excessive smoothie-drinking in lieu of meals. We made new friends and relentlessly gossiped about old ones. We winked at unruly kids at the next table at lunch, patted runaway dogs, muttered about the local chicken population when they woke us up at 4 AM, and held our breath to listen when we heard the wild pigs feasting on the fallen avocados outside our window at night.
* * *
In time, time passed, and now you’re on the West Coast going to Hollywood parties and planning your next tour and we’re on the East. Soon one of us will go to South to work on an album and the other will stay here and cook and hope for springtime.
Our non-vacation lives, we decided that day on the beach as the sun slipped away with turtles poking their heads out of the water everywhere, are really pretty livable. Weeks of vacation and lives dictated largely by our own passions. I nodded my head, too lulled by beauty to mumble about the unjust suffering my heart usually points out in order to exclude such sappy sentiments.
That night I was just thankful. I was able to accept that this beauty was necessary to face the ugliness I pride myself on facing and combating. It wasn’t the entirety of the meaning of life that night, and it didn’t take away my anger at the world and replace it with serenity and acceptance, but I didn’t want it to. I looked at your two faces and I was just thankful.