On Friday night we found ourselves in a shack of a bar where a bad Country and Western band played John Fogerty songs. It was the first time Kevin had taken his motorcycle out since the accident and he was drinking to calm his nerves. He had been driving down a logging road when the road underneath him just disappeared. The roads around here were tricky like that. The loggers would build them to reach the area they were clear-cutting and after they were done, they would sometimes doze over the road or else a bridge might simply deteriorate. You had to be really careful driving up here. This time out, Kevin decided to go to bars located solely on Highway 101 where it was safer.
It was so much easier hanging out and boozing it up with Kevin now that we knew nothing romantic would ever come of it. I had first seen pictures of him at the training academy during a slideshow presentation about trail building in the backcountry in King’s Canyon. I thought he was beautiful back then. It was the first time I had realized that I was attracted to a physical type. He was tall and lanky with dark curly hair and blue eyes and a self-deprecating smile. It just so happened, that he worked on the Salmon Restoration Project and would be my boss for the next nine months. I tried to woo him when I first met him, but he wasn’t biting. I eventually got over him and started dating someone else.
After we were better acquainted, I was glad that our initial flirtation didn’t take. Although I was physically attracted to him, our personality differences would surely have driven us both crazy. He had been a strong Christian at one point in his life, and though he was reformed, he still couldn’t get over some of the teachings. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t still party and have casual sex, he would just beat himself up about it later and judge other people for exhibiting similar behavior. I found that tedious about him and I’m sure he thought me a little too harsh for his tastes as well. We made great friends, however. I encouraged him to relax and paint and act like an idiot from time to time and he got me thinking about my future and other practical matters.
By the time we left the bar, Kevin had had quite a bit to drink. (he needed it to calm himself, remember) He expressed regret over not dating me when he had the chance. I didn’t take him too seriously. Even at nineteen, I was very aware of how pretty I got after everyone else was drunk.
The sky was clear that night, but it was still hard to see the stars through the Redwoods towering over us. Out on the road, Kevin turned his headlight off and we flew down the highway in the dark, with only the overwhelming pine smell and the trees fencing us in on both sides of the road as witnesses. Being so young, it felt completely natural to taunt our own dumb luck.
On this Friday afternoon, as I sit in my cubicle staring at the words on my computer screen and watching them turn into bold, but broken lines, I happily anticipate going home and putting my pajamas on by eight o’clock. I still remember (mostly) how I used to spend my weekend nights and I don’t feel like I’m missing much. Now, I’m just glad that I don’t have to worry about traveling on roads that could suddenly open up underneath me.