This isn’t much of a Flashback, since I just wrote this story yesterday. I wrote it from the prompt “…to see everything you’ve got…” for my writing group. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please leave me some love in the comments section. It really makes my day!
It’s a shock to see everything you’ve got packed into boxes and loaded in a truck. It’s one thing when you’re moving and the truck is delivering all your worldly goods to your next home; it’s something entirely different when it’s a Salvation Army truck hauling away your possessions forever because you no longer have a home.
I look at Dakota, my new husband, and I wonder if I’ve completely lost my mind. He stands on the curb, straight and tall with his head lifted high, as if giving away everything we owned lifted a heavy burden from his back. Unrestrained by the objects and comforts that tethered me to my life, I feel as if I might float away. Unmoored.
“Well, Babe, we did it.” Dakota wraps his lean, muscled arm around my shoulders, and I can smell the sharp, clean scent of his deodorant. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to not having the simple luxuries of shampoo and deodorant at our disposal.
We walk together up the three steps of the small bungalow I rented through graduate school. I have to give the keys to the landlord tomorrow. Two weeks since graduation and two days since taking our wedding vows in the office of the justice of the peace at the downtown courthouse, I’m beginning to get nervous. Dakota is so confident. I watch him pulling out the few remaining grocery items from the refrigerator, and I marvel at his ease. He doesn’t seem to be feeling any of the trepidation I feel. Maybe our different backgrounds are the reason we respond so differently to uncertainty.
Dakota grew up on a commune in Oregon. When we first met, he regaled me with stories of hunting mushrooms in the forest, feeding chickens, and skinning deer, of bathing in creeks, and of sleeping under the stars, or in a teepee, or in a cabin his father built. This handsome hippie with the high cheek bones and the sparse, dark beard incited a passion inside me. The idea of his “oneness with nature” stirred up the feelings within that were first awakened by Emerson and Thoreau. His disdain for the trappings of modern society was so foreign to me after spending six years surrounded by students. I was shocked when Dakota told me he had never used a computer. A twenty-four year old man who had no email address, no smart phone, and no credit card was hard for me to even wrap my head around. When he quoted Hesse and Merton, I began to fall in love. He wooed me with his love of poetry, his extreme intelligence, and the ease with which his body moved through his world. Because it suddenly seemed to be his world I was living in.
His world was so different from the perfectly average, middle-class world I had inhabited for the sum total of my twenty-three years. It called to me. I had no choice when he looked over at me after making love on a quilt in my living room floor and said, “I don’t think I can live if you won’t be my wife, Emma.” I had no choice because I had already chosen. My heart had chosen to live in his hands, long before my mind understood.
Now here he stood before me, this man who had captured my imagination and my heart, making a sandwich and grinning at me. “Are you excited?”
I nod. I don’t tell him it’s more fear than excitement today. I don’t tell him the thought of donning the two backpacks leaning against the wall and traipsing into the woods fills me with barely restrained terror. What are we even doing? We could die! When I told my parents we were going to hike the Appalachian Trail, they were less than supportive. When I told them two days ago we had gotten married, my mother cried and my father hung up on me. They were unaware I had donated everything to charity, and they certainly had no idea we were planning to join Dakota’s family in Oregon when we left the Trail in the Fall. I planned to drop a letter in the mail before we hit the Trail to explain it all to them.
“Are you scared at all?” I asked Dakota.
“Not at all,” he replied. “I’ve been planning to do this for years. I was most concerned about being lonely, but that’s not a problem anymore.” He strode across the short distance that separated us and kissed me on the forehead. “Doing this with you is an incredible way to start our life together, don’t you think?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “It is incredible. I’m getting a little nervous, though.”
“Don’t be nervous.” His bright blue, deep-set eyes gleam with excitement. “I’ll keep you safe. I promise. The woods have been my home all my life, and I’ll make sure you feel at home, too.”
I smile at him, not sure he can make good on his promise.
“Besides,” he smiles and winks at me, “worst case scenario…you have a really cool book to write when we’re done.”
“A memoir of the time I lost my mind, married a man I just met, sold all my stuff, and walked through the woods for six months?”
“Exactly!” Dakota kissed the tip of my nose.
I couldn’t help but smile, as I recited his favorite John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
©2015 Rachel Holbrook