4/10/15 This has Gotta Mean Something

The Wanderlust IPA was his drink of choice. The dimly lit bar had copper piping that marked it off from the rest of the restaurant. Near the dart boards, away from the bar, were some tall tables paired with tall wooden chairs. A couple other people were sitting in the corner chatting and drinking. She ordered a Wanderlust also, trusting in his knowledge of beers. She hadn’t really been interested beer until recently. More of a whisky drinker–to tell the truth.

They took a seat away from the bar and near the back.

“This is crazy,” he says.

“Yeah. A little.”

“It’s been, what? eight, nine years?”

“I guess.”

He’s hair that would be blonde if he lived someplace that got more sun. But since it’s the Pacific Northwest it’s just sandy brown. He has no blemishes on his face, though a light dusting of stubble on his chin and somewhat rosey cheeks.

He asks the cliche questions about why she’s back from LA. And she gives her cliche answers. The beer is good–it puts a bitter zing on her tongue. He asks what she’s doing now. Working and working. Trying to figure out what to do. He’s doing his masters in creative writing. Almost done with classes. Still finishing his thesis. He’s interesting in the way an intellectual might be interesting if they didn’t care about history. She doesn’t care about history. She cares about art and so does he. He pulls books from his backpack and reads passages of novels he thinks she might like. He reads passages from his own work. They order more beer. They talk about relationships–just the tip of the iceberg–and then stories of LA. But she is glad to be back she says. She feels like Seattle is the place to be right now.

They order more beer and she can’t remember what they talked about anymore and they order more beer.

“I just feel like guys will look too deeply into a girl being nice,” she says. They’re back on relationships.

“Yeah. I think you’re right. I’m doing that right now.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m wondering if I’m–well, I’m wondering if–there’s something between us maybe. I–this is going to sound crazy,” he’s a bit drunk and not as articulate, but she wants to know what he’s going to say.

“What?”

“Two days ago–three. On Friday we had a party at my house and my friend Allie showed me a picture of a book opened and a mountainous landscape for a backdrop. The caption was of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I asked Allie who posted it, and it was you. I hadn’t thought of you for years and years–we looked at your instagram and I’ve always thought you were beautiful. Then, suddenly I had your number the very next day, and now–you’re here and I’m like, wow. This has gotta mean something.”

4/6/15 What Would You Like to Text?

It had been years since Bellingham had been her home. Years since she’d spent any time at all. But the skeezy prostitute motel was still there and even though it was February there were still some of the homeless sitting about on the street corners or holding signs for food and money–or just money.

In the dark the stoplight turned red. She grabbed her phone, “Siri,” she said. “Text Alex.”

What would you like to text?

“Ten min away, where’s a good place.”

She put down her phone. The light turned to green. She revved her engine a little too high–she’d never been very good at driving stick, even after 10 years. Her phone buzzed.

Well, are a beer, mixed drinks, or cider person?

She clicked siri, took a sharp right.

“Beer or whiskey, typically.”

Then we should go to the Copper Hog.

“Sounds good, see you there.

“Siri, look up The Copper Hog in Bellingham Washington.”

Down the hill the taillights of other cars flared. The warm lights of the buildings splashed their warmth through the cold glass windows. Her car lurched over pumps and then she took a right, then a left and another left.

As she drove by The Copper Hog looked like a sleepy place, but then–it was a Monday. She parked on the street, since it was after five o’clock it was free. She wondered what this would be like–she hadn’t seen this guy since high school–and even then they hadn’t known each other in any likely sense to be meeting up at this house, on such short notice. The only reasons she’d known him was because his high school girlfriend had been her rival at Tennis. And maybe she’d heard stories about parties at his house? His dad had let them party there when they were young. She supposed if they still had parties they might still have them there–but whatever, most parties were lame.

Outside The Copper Hog sat a small patio fenced in by a sturdy black metal fence. Inside the place was a pretty typical sports bar–though to her right were many tables nicely set. In front of her was a large copper hog and to her left and little in front of her stood a tall slender frame with broad shoulders. Even though he wore a hat she could see long hair flaring out from below the slouchy beanie. There were a couple other people in the bar, but it was dead, really. Mondays.

She walked forward a little slowly and as she did the slender form turned and Alex’s face trained on her. His mouth broke into a smile and he began to laugh. It was a strange laugh, rather high for a man, but it seems slightly contagious, as she found herself smiling as well and then laughed a little also.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey, good to see you.”

“Yeah,” he swooped in for a hug and the one armed it. No use in getting that close–it’d been 9 years, about.

“Whacha drinking?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

To the left, along the bar–lit with dim lights that gave the whole bar a warm feeling even though outside it was cold enough for your breath to be seen–was a chalkboard with a list of all the beers.

4/3/15 As Long As Your Intentions Are Pure

When a dirt trail replaced the rocks she felt a little more stable. The sun was setting as she, still above the treeline, walked down the trail. It was such a nice evening; the clouds there were acted as texture to the brilliant colors unfolding above and in front of her. The smell of the trail changed from pungent life to crisp cold and she increased her footsteps, wanting to be at the bottom of the trail by dark.

She had seen only a couple other climbers that day. One with a dog. She loved dogs, but right now, without her own place or the income she needed there was no way she could have one of her own. She entered the trees and the dim light of the evening was darkened considerable. She unslung her backpack and pulled out her sweater and put it on. She also grabbed her phone in order to use its flashlight. She turned it on. It buzzed. A message from an unknown number flashed on her screen. She thumbed it and read the text.

Hey, this is Alex. Nathan passed along your number. Welcome home.

I’m living in Bellingham, not sure where you’re at, but if you’re ever in the area, let me know.

A.

She thumbed out a response. She didn’t want to go back home. Anything to stay out of the house. Hopefully he’d be up for a drink or two. She wasn’t too far from Bellingham.

Days Earlier:

She sat with her phone. She’d asked Jen, her co-worker if it was weird to do this and she’s said no. Or she’s said, “as long as your intentions are pure I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

So why was she hesitating? Was it because she’d never had an actual conversation with either of them? Was it because she didn’t want to people to think she was creepy or weird? The worst that happened was they didn’t respond. She found Nathan R____ on facebook and her thumbs slid across the phone typing her message.

Hey Nathan,

I was thinking, since I’m back up North, it would be fun to connect with Ben and Alex– I always thought they were super rad and would love to kick it. Can you pass along my number to them? Thanks.

The thumbed down her number too. Outside her car Seattle was hustling and traffic was clogging the streets of downtown. Without look back at the screen she pressed the send button. She just wanted some cool friends to go hiking with, she told herself.

When she got back to her car parked at the trailhead it was completely dark.  She’d texted Alex back. Something that was truthful, but maybe a little forward. Was it too sudden to spring a couple beers on someone she’d not seen since high school? Well, either he said yes or no. She climbed into her car. Her phone buzzed. It was her mother. She confirmed that she had not broken her neck on the way down the mountain.

I’ll be home late. Visiting a friend.

She texted.