On the pavement outside the restaurant we spoke of how life changes and the moments that make us and how we have changed and still yet remain the same. She remembered being babysat at our house and she remembered my eating of a tomato sauce sandwich and the sauce dripping down my cheek.
I remembered years later. My eighteenth birthday. Rebecca and her had picked me up from my house and we drove down to the beach and the storm gathered out at sea like a curious puppy learning of the loudness of its bark.
We had stood at the edge of the ocean, where it kissed the cliff face. Next to the lighthouse. We stood looking out to the sea and we dared the puppy dog storm to come at us. She listened and came bounding. And what else can you do in such a moment, but dance. We danced. Wild. Unrestrained. We screamed and we yelled. The storm barked so loudly. Thrashed wildly. And we three wilder and wilder still. Limbs like storm. Body jerking. Barking. And somewhere in the loose movement I let myself go. I lost all sense of the tightness of my skin and I let the storm come in.
It was the first time I ever did that. The thunder crashing and the wind whipping and the lightning striking and the ocean pounding and the three of us screaming. Dancing. Everything was alive that night. Filled with a life and a luminosity. Including myself, I was alive. Everything was screaming that night, including myself. Everything is always wind and storm and wouldn’t we always be the brave ones to turn and face into the surge and bellow back.
Rebecca died. Many years later. The first girlfriend I ever had. My first teenage love. In her sleep. Not long before her wedding. She died.
We remembered this too, standing there outside the restaurant, her child eating burgers, tomato sauce dripping down his cheek. We remembered where we were when heard she had died. I had taken all the photos I had of her, including one taken of the three of us that wild night. I laid them out on the floor all around me. I wrote her a letter that I could never send. I could not get to the funeral, so I buried her inside me instead. Wouldn’t we always be the brave ones to turn and face into the surge and bellow back.
My old friend tells me how she has just split with her husband and she feels a widow at thirty three. I let the tears come. Held her arm. Wouldn’t we always be the brave ones to face into the surge and bellow back. Wouldn’t we.
The cliff face is still there. I stand on its edge whenever I go home. Looking out to the ocean. So I go there that night after talking with my old friend and I scream at the top of my lungs and then I begin to dance.