When we got down out of the mountains and headed to the coast, when we hit sand, when we ran to the water and scream-laughed because the wind was so strong it almost blew us both into the huge waves. When you yelled, “Jesus, we should have brought mittens!” as you grabbed me, wrapped your arms tightly around me to keep me upright. When you whispered, “At least we have this, right?” and I was almost positive that was what you said, but I wasn’t completely sure, so I just nodded.
When we left Oregon behind, drove south back to California, past the little towns we’d sped through on the way north.
When we saw the signs for San Francisco and we stopped singing along with Billy Joel, who I hated before this weekend, but who you convinced me wasn’t that bad. When we pulled off for gas just outside the city and you checked your phone instead of coming out to talk to me while I pumped, then you went to the bathroom really quick, but I knew you were making a call.
When we got back to Santa Cruz, back to my apartment building, and you moved your bag over to your parked car. When you hugged me goodbye, hard but distracted, your eyes gray now, the blue specs that I noticed in the high desert gone. When I pinched your earlobe lightly, my goodbye mirroring my hello, and your eyes were so big and shiny and I realized what was happening.
When I winked, smiled like I didn’t realize what was happening, and left you standing by your car as I went up the stairs to my apartment.
When I closed the door behind me. When I realized I was still wearing your sweatshirt. When I turned on the light and saw my half-empty mug of cold coffee on the table by the door. When my phone buzzed and for a second I didn’t breathe, but it was just a text about my gas bill being overdue.
Hannah Grieco is a writer in Washington, DC. Find her online at http://www.hgrieco.com and on Twitter @writesloud.