“Summer is well under way now, or at least a week into it. And I’ve got BIG plans,” she said with gusto and a fist pump to the unsuspecting air.
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Well…” she smiled coyly at him. Or at least she thought it was coy until he said something.
“What is that face? What are you trying to do? Is that…is that coy?” He couldn’t help but laugh. This was absurd. What could she possibly have planned for this time? Every summer was the same. Stay at home, work, swim, occasionally babysit or house sit. He sat down, crossed one leg over the other and folded his hands in his lap with a look on his face that said This is going to be amusing, but please, do continue. She took no notice and she moved around the tiny kitchen, her thrifted floral print dress swaying with every movement.
“Coy, no. What? Anyway, this summer…” she took a big breath before continuing. “I’m going to travel across the country!”
The amused look on his face dropped. “Seriously?”
“Yeah! It’ll be great! I’ll work on my writing, live out of an old VW van…I’ll be the next Jack Kerouac, just with different body parts.”
He was astounded. She had never done anything like this. “What about money? Food. Comfortable sleeping? Showering? You hate going without showers.”
“Well I have some money. And I’ll be working a few more weeks before leaving. So I’ll use most of that for gas and food. And showering, well I’ll figure that out as I go. I’m sure there’ll be creeks and stuff along the way.”
He reiterated his point. “But you hate going without showers.”
“I know. But I’m trying something different.” She sounded pleased with herself. Then another idea came to her. A wide Cheshire cat grin appeared on her face. “Wanna come?”
“Uh, no,” he said very matter-of-factly, slightly scared of the grin that continued to get wider. How is that possible?
“Oh come on. It’ll be great! The writer and the artist. Oooh, we should invite other people. Like a chef. Who do we know that can cook? Oh and someone who knows a lot of useful things about plants and stuff.”
“You can cook well and I majored in plant biology before art. But that’s besides the point. Listen, this is crazy! What drove you to do this?”
“Well I never do anything excited for the summer. While everyone’s off on an island or meeting celebrities – ”
“Ok, who do we know that met a celebrity?”
“Jen met that one guy from that soap opera.”
“No one watches that. He’s barely famous…”
“Whatever. I’m tired of spending my summers doing the same thing! I wanna go see the country, meet fascinating people in grungy diners with really great pie and coffee.”
“But you make great pie and coffee! Why can’t you just stay in your own kitchen?”
“Listen. I’m leaving in a few weeks. I’ve already got the van. I’m eating the bare minimum so I can save the food and the money I would have spent on the food, and it’ll be great! We’ll get a tent and some tiny mattresses and we’ll sleep under the stars. Ooh, see the mountains! Come with me!”
He could only sit there. His leg now uncrossed and both feet firmly on the floor. It’s not that he wasn’t the adventurous type, but to hear this from her was unfathomable. But why shouldn’t he go? If anything, she’d need someone to protect her from eating the wrong plant, going into the wrong diner, parking the van on the wrong side of the road.
“Ok. Ok. Let’s say I do go on this trip – ”
“Ah! I knew it! You couldn’t resist the call of the wild!”
“First of all, it’s not the wild. It’s the open road. Second, I’m speaking hypothetically right now.”
“Ok, ok. Continue.” But she couldn’t keep the grin off her face. She knew she had won him over. There was just one last detail she had to convince him on.
“Where would we go? How long? Do you have any sort of destination in mind?”
She paused for a second.
“Well?” he asked.
“I wanna end up somewhere on the west coast.”
“Portland? And that’s where I’m out.”
“Please?! I just don’t know why you hate Portland so much.”
“Well it could be due to the fact that she lives there.”
“Portland’s a big city,” she said innocently. “We’ll probably never run into her. It won’t be so bad. Maybe she’ll have moved too by the time we get there.”
“What’s in Portland, anyway?”
“Only the greatest food and music festival ever! So I thought I’d spend the entire summer getting there.”
He thought about it for what seemed like years. She started fidgeting.
“Stop fidgeting,” he said.
He thought some more. The second hand ticked past the numbers and notches, getting louder for her with each tock. Finally he stood up. He walked over to the fridge, opened it, and grabbed a drink. He took a long sip before finally speaking.
“Alright. I’ll go.”
“Yes! It’ll be great! I promise. We’ll start planning tomorrow!” She walked over to him and gave him a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek. She smiled, took his drink and walked out to her apartment balcony to finish it. He sighed, grabbed another drink and went outside to join her.