A Trip to the Desert-Ocean


“I’ll show you the ocean,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“We may be a little late,” he scratched his chin with his right hand, while his left held the wheel. We were in his older sister’s car; and Johnny Cash was crooning through the bluetooth from his playlist labeled: “10.” The night was a little too cold to have the windows down, so we sat in an aluminum bubble gliding down the highway. James made a right turn. “Definetly late,” he mused. “It would have been better five minutes ago. But you can still see it.”

I fiddled with my purse strap as I watched his hand rest on the gear stick from the corner of my eye. He had such nice hands. “Alright,” I said. “Show me the ocean.”

We rumbled past the overlook where we had first held hands, the road noise comfortably filling the space between us. I looked at his hands again as he fiddled with the music. He liked movie soundtracks, just like I did; and we’d spent some long drives transported not just by his car; but the faraway lands the notes created. But it seemed tonight was a night for gentler music.

“You remember the ocean.” he said. I turned to him, waiting, but he offered nothing else.

“Yeah, I remember the ocean.” He had told me about it while he was teaching me to drive manual. As we lurched and rumbled and I wrecked his transmission, he had laughed and told me how to find the ocean in the middle of our desert. “It has to be just right,” he told me. I cursed and hit the clutch. “Just after sunset. So it’s hazy and blue. The lights of the city are the stars; and you can– ease up on the clutch, and throw it in gear– and you can see the waves, at the horizon.” Gripping the stick with white-knuckled hands, I asked: “How?”

“In the sky! You turn your head upside-down, and there it is. The blue ocean with a starry sky above it.”

So tonight, after our movie date, he drove past the turn-off to my house and continued up the mountain. The sky was filled with freshly washed clouds, wrung out and drying in the cool night. Below them, the valley twinkled. A hazy blur of mountian crags dipped up and down between the two. I turned my head to the side, curling my shoulders up to my ears.

“I see it! I see it!” There was the ocean. Blue fluffy waves crested up to the jagged shoreline, blurring upwards into a starry city sky. “It’s the ocean!”

He grinned, one of his soft, slow smiles. “Next time I’ll take you to see it, we’ll get here the right time. It has to have just the right conditions.”

I grinned a sideways smile, curved like the moon in the sky waves. I looked forward to it.

 

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