The further one climbs up up out of the valley, the more suddenly, treacherously, one plummets with one misstep, after the sun has set and it is harder to see and one is alone with her thoughts.
Today while driving Audrey to school, I thought about vacations. I was trying to figure out what our vacations will look like. So far we’ve gone on a few trips- three with my parents and one to a friend’s in Maine – just Audrey and I. I suppose right now while she’s young it’s easiest to stay with friends or family, and it’s not that we have the extra income to plan anything extravagant, but I suddenly miss the notion, the ability to plan a vacation with someone my own age- my best friend. We hadn’t gotten to travel that much yet together, but I enjoyed planning the trips- picking the hotels in Montreal and Quebec, sitting on the floor in bookstores in NYC together in the travel section taking notes on the places we wanted to see in Paris, arriving at the airport so early for our trip to Korea and telling you how excited I was and then later landing in the stupor of jet lag, noticing an orange glow to the land at night as we drove on a bus to Seoul, hearing your mother’s voice on the phone, “Welcome to Korea.”
I keep in my heart that night we arrived in Nashville on our one year wedding anniversary and were so upset that we missed the reservation you made at a nicer restaurant only to remember that it was an hour earlier there and we would make it. How different Nashville felt from the grime of NYC, even while we were still on the airplane and the man behind us was whistling a hymn a little too loudly. How small and empty the airport appeared and how friendly everyone was. I will keep in my heart how much fried chicken we ate and how we sat in some touristy restaurant watching a group of young girls dance below to “This One’s for the Girls,” while we ate our fried chicken. How we’d planned on trying to perform at the Blue Bird for open mic night but I chickened out- how much you loved the music at that little dive and how there was a little boy around ten who seemed to be getting drunk beside us and how disturbed we were- how all of the bars and clubs still allowed people to smoke and how unbearable that was.
I keep in my heart the way it poured when we first got to Paris and headed out to see the Eiffel Tower- how we bought crepes and hurried under a news stand along with others while it thundered and lightening- and then it stopped and we walked and took photos in front of the tower. I keep in my heart our favorite section- the Latin Quarter- the little doorways and stone walkways we followed. The walk we took all the way from Sacre Coeur to the Arco de Triunfo because you assured me “It’s a walking distance,” and my feet were blistered and red in the new Naot sandals I’d bought for the trip because they were called “Paris.”
I keep in my heart our arrival to the resort on our honeymoon. Checking in as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time and being handed a glass of champagne while eying my wedding and engagement rings proudly. The way I guessed every meal you would order from the menu in each of the restaurants in the resort…the way you insisted since it was all-inclusive you didn’t have to tip the waiters, but that one time, you reached out your hand to shake one of their hands and say “Thank you” and it was so awkward because he thought you were tipping him. Ordering in food to our room – the best chicken tortilla soup I’d ever had. The way you did water aerobics with me in the pool led by that energetic little guy. The way you insisted on using the gym there because it was included in the price. The sunburn I got that you kept warning me about but I didn’t see while I was outside- only when I came in and saw myself in the mirrored elevator did I quietly gasp. The floats that we floated on together in the large pool, under the little bridge, enjoying our honeymoon. The way we walked down the beach and you collected a few shells which I have now sitting in my living room.
I keep in my heart our arrival in Turks and Caicos for our “babymoon” and the sound of the island music greeting us in the airport- the sunset walk we took, taking photographs of our feet in the sand. The expensive food and the way we ordered an extra meal at lunch and ate it later for our dinner- the food poisoning you got and the first time I saw a show called “John and Kate Plus Eight” and you watched for about a minute and said “They’re going to get a divorce. Listen to the way she’s speaking to him.” Remember how we got the NY Times each day and I became obsessed with the crossword puzzle. Remember how I needed you though for so many of the answers- sports, pop culture. We did it together.
I will miss traveling with you Dan- you were such a good traveler. I will miss even car trips and the way we drove each other crazy. I’ll miss the photo you snapped of me with your phone many years ago while I was taking a bite of your burger at a fast food restaurant rest stop. A rather unbecoming photo that you loved to show me afterwards- and one that I sought revenge for by snapping one of you asleep at some point with your mouth wide open. Where are those photos- probably on old cell phones we don’t have anymore.
I see advertisements lately for family friendly resorts that look nice and how I wish we could all go together Dan.
There is a lot of rocking back and forth during this entry.
I was writing an email back to someone when the wave hit earlier. A woman who grew up with you in Taegu wrote me an email at my blog address. She wanted to reach out and maybe share some of your childhood stories living there because you were good friends with her younger brother. I am touched and happy to hear memories, and then, as I’m writing her back about the little you did tell me about those years- I am reminded of late night talks – often right before we fell asleep- in the dark- you would start to reminisce and tell me about your childhood- such a different childhood than mine. And as I remember this- I can’t put into words what a loss I feel- that I didn’t pay better attention- that without this woman or another person- your childhood memories are lost to me. This is how it is- the closeness going away- little by little- the irony that the one person you’ve been closer to than anyone in your life- shared a level of understanding and intimacy with unlike any other- becomes in the end- an enigma. And i am heartbroken then, because I see not just your absence as a person in my life- but the absence of your childhood and stories and life story all at once. Gone. Then I want to call out like I did the second day, “Come back- please come back… ” Instead, I cry and rock and write.