Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 290 - August 17th

It was our last morning together and we started it off with instant grits before packing up and leaving the park. Matt and I felt that the only way we could live happy and fulfilled lives was if we played Cuarenta again and turned our rivals into 'zapateros'; I'm sure Rebecca and Jeff woke up still feeling quite pleased with themselves about last night. The plan then was to clean up and change into town clothes before going to a cafe where our third rematch would take place.

After armpit showers and shaving (Liam grew a lot of facial hair in the woods), we zipped into Greenwood proper and settled in a Starbucks. We had tried again to satisfy Jeff's cafe principles against Starbucks but it was the only place in town. The parents plugged Liam into YouTube so he could watch cartoons while we played (that's how serious we were) and, seated with coffee and breakfast sandwiches, proceeded to alarm the other patrons in the once-placid cafe with belligerent outbursts of "Caida!" and "Limpia!" They didn't cross my mind once, so absorbed was I in reclaiming mine and Matt's honor. It was a vicious trio of games and we did win them all, but we never managed to bring them to our level. Being a zapatero is a difficult label to shrug off and most of my burns were put out fast whenever Jeff and Rebecca countered with the fact that we were zapateros.

Still, it was a special couple of hours we spent there. I spied an Outback Steakhouse nearby and, remembering those gift cards my Uncle Ted gave me in Artesia, New Mexico which I've been carrying since then, I thought today might be a good time to use them finally! The five of us all went out for a magnificent, free lunch and savored each other's company as our time together wound down. They returned Jeff and me to the Starbucks where we said goodbye (again) to our friends. This time was more difficult than the last because we knew there would be no do-over. Who can say how long it will be until next I see them? I hope that day isn't far off.

Jeff and I stayed for a couple hours longer to write. I faltered in pace recently and had much catching up to do. But once I'd finished, I waited for Jeff. Sunlight spilled across the floor as we finalized our packs and double-checked the separate roads we would take. A heavy solemnity filled the distance between us. This was it, the end of another adventure together and there would be no prolonging it. "We must have known the first time," he said. Eyes welling up, I had to nod in reply. How could we have known we would be put back together again after Jeff got into that car? That premature goodbye had felt nothing like now. Sighing yet smiling, we walked out of Starbucks and paused on the corner of the intersection where Jeff would go one way and I another. I tried to think of something to say that would be meaningful but lately I've fallen silent on that front. I'm not confident I'm capable of doing that anymore so we hugged it out and walked away, one North and the other East.

I lapsed into a terrible quiet and as I walked I nearly broke down right there on the sidewalk. It felt like another door had been wrenched open and I didn't know how to hold everyone I loved. I missed my friends. I wished for a place where time would persist and things would never end and have to begin again but I doubt there is such a place. Still, I wish for it.


  1. "Remember, Jeff: There's always a place to sleep."
    -Sam Tidwell, before parting
    August 17, 2014

  2. Oh man, we just read the post from our last day together. What intense feelings. Your writing made it all well up in me again - the tears too. Driving away the first time felt surreal, like we still wanted to know more; and driving away the second time was so harder because at that point we were letting go of such great experiences and special friends without knowing when or if we would see each other again. Cheers to our next reunion and all our love till then.