“Let’s get lost.”
She said to me, passing the half-spent joint. I inhaled.
“Uhm. Ok.” I said on my exhale. I sped past the driveway of my house and turned out of our neighborhood and onto the long country road behind it. We had just made a beer stop. The 12-rack of PBR seemed like it wouldn’t make it past the night. I grabbed one and cracked it open. I handed it to her. I grabbed one for myself. We lit cigarettes and rolled down the windows to let the oddly-warm Ohio summer night air roll through our fibers. She held the joint up to her lips and flashed me a smile. She looked away bashfully. We had only just started dating. We were in that phase where she took photos of me in my bedhead and pajamas and showed her friends how “cute I am.”
She wants to get lost. That soft twinkle in her sky-eyes told me she knew where we were going. I didn’t. I don’t think she knew the location. But she definitely knew the destination. And that’s what I love about her. She is so not-me. I am the pragmatist to her whimsy. Sometimes, I’m the downwind to her upwind. I stop her in her tracks when she’s trying to soar. And in those moments, I am more lost than I care to be.
“I got the art internship!” Upwind. She had applied for one in California. She’s so excited, eyes twinkling. I am not.
“Can you even afford to do that?” Downwind. She is worse with her money than I am with mine. And I once spent an entire paycheck in one weekend. But that wasn’t my concern. I know she could get help from people. I know I would help her. Yet I harass her over her lack of money. For weeks, I point out every pointless thing she buys — even the gifts she buys for me that I actually cherish — as an illustration of how she can’t do it.
“I turned it down.” I feel conflicted. The twinkle in her sky-eyes had faded. I am happy she will remain here in Ohio. But, deep down, sad that I have crushed her dreams.
I took a turn onto a backroad I had never been down. I looked over at her. The wind was blowing her hair around behind her head. Her eyes were closed and she had a content grin on her face. We were high. We were young. We were happy. We were free. She looked at me.
“Do you want to hear a story?”
“Sure,” I said. She recalled a memory in fondness:
“When I was a kid, I watched an old Bob Ross tape my parents had… I know it’s cheesy as fuck, but… He was actually so happy to be painting. And I was just like, a kid. And I just liked being happy. Like a kid. So, I started painting. I realized I was actually pretty good at it! And then, when my parents got divorced, I kinda threw myself into it. The whole time they were arguing and fighting and in court… I was just painting. I spent a lot of my free time in the art room at school. The art teacher really pushed my art. She told me I really had potential. No one had ever encouraged me like that. Art kept me on the ups throughout high school. I never really thought about that until just now…”
“That’s awesome, babe.” I smiled at her. She smiled back and stuck her cigarette between her teeth. She turned up the music and we traveled down the road. It was just me, her, and the open road. We were going nowhere of importance, yet we were going somewhere important. We wanted to get lost.
In the weeks since she turned down the internship, she stopped painting. She just watches TV now. We don’t talk as much. I can tell that my presence reminds her of her missed opportunity. But, she loves me too much to ever harass me about it. She loves me too much…
I know that I’m causing her so much pain. And it causes me pain. But, she’s genuinely convinced she can’t do it now.
And I don’t know what to do. I want to help her.
“Let’s turn here.” She pointed at a side road that went up a hill. We went up the hill. It plateaued off into a clearing. The clearing then dipped down into a grassy shoreline for a lake. We had no idea where we were. We were high. We were young. We were happy. We were free.
“Let’s get out of the car.” She stepped out of the car and I did, too. I admired the car as I stepped out. I had just finished repairing it a few weeks ago. It was a ’55 Porsche Spyder — the kind James Dean drove — that my father and I had found relatively cheap (it was a replica) and fixed up. We modernized the interior as much as we could and fixed it up to run like a champ. There were a lot of memories in that car. It was my dream car. I grabbed a blanket from the back seat.
We trekked downhill to the grassy shore she had the beer in her hand and I had the blunts in mine, blanket tossed over my shoulder. We found a nice place where the full moon reflected in the lake beautifully. I laid out the blanket and we sat down. I lit up a blunt. We looked at the view of the lake through the perfect frame of trees and foliage that nature had so generously put on display. It was like it was just for us. I looked at her. She looked at me.
“It’s so beautiful,” we both said simultaneously. I kissed her. We made love for the first time that night. Right there. At that lake. On that shore. We lied there for a while in the moonlight.We talked about life. I learned so much about her that night. After a while, we headed back to the car. The car that had gained yet another memory. I kissed her on the cheek and held the door open for her. I got in the car and looked into her twinkling sky-eyes. I was lost.
I love her. The memory of that moment from almost four years ago hits me as I walk out and look at my Porsche. I get in it and begin to drive. I want her to do what she loves. Because I love her. She deserves the world and I can give it to her. She can still get the internship. I called them and told them she would take it. I pull into the long driveway I was searching for. I get out of the car and shake hands with a man in a nice suit. He looks at me. He looks at the car.
“I will give you $35,000 for it,” he says after carefully inspecting my cherished car. That’s more than enough for me and her to move to California together and live for the duration of her internship. I feel conflicted. But, I know what I have to do.
“That sounds fantastic! I need a favor, though. Can I have it for one more night?” He obliges my request and I leave. I drive around a while and stumble upon the lake again. I look out at it and I rush to her place. I pull in the driveway. I can’t wait to tell her. I get out of my car and rush to the door. She answers it and she looks confused. I’m going to tell her tonight. But first, we have to do something. Before we can begin our adventure together in California, I think we need to put a cap on our adventures here. At the same lake we started. I look at her:
“Let’s get lost.”