A SATURDAY MORNING EMAIL TO MY FRIEND:
FIRST DAY OF MY VACATION, NOT WITH YOU
by Mary Senter
It’s raining? Just as well I didn’t go down for the fiesta. I can get crappy weather here. But … I can’t get you. I miss you. I shouldn’t, I know, but I do. I want to see you again. That week I spent with you was among the best weeks of my life. Even though we didn’t do anything super exciting or have any grand adventures, like my typical vacations, I enjoyed just being beside you and holding you in my arms. Even though I cried buckets on my walks—like I did the trip before, when I saw you for the first time in twenty years—I also laughed and smiled and sang. I was happy.
I’ve tried to find a word to describe how I felt, but I don’t think a word exists in the English language that properly conveys the emotion. I’ve tried words like content, safe, comforted, loved, serene, protected, calm, energized, hopeful, joyous, peaceful, blissful, whole, but none of those words alone is quite right. Even together, they don’t portray the particular feeling. I’m not sure I could even describe it. Maybe I don’t need to. Maybe you felt it, too, I don’t know. Odd that being in a person’s company could make me feel such things. I don’t understand it.
I can’t describe with a word how I felt, but I’ll try to describe it this way: It was like … It was like carrying a heavy load for a very long time, alone, over treacherous terrain and often in torturous weather conditions, through tribulations and strife, hunger and pain, fighting thieves and scoundrels along the way, and thinking all the while that you’re doing just fine. But then, you come to a refuge, where someone welcomes you, and knows what you’ve been through without asking. They invite you into a place that is new to you, yet feels very much like home. The person removes your pack, rubs the pain out of your shoulders, runs you a hot bath, and prepares a delicious, nourishing meal, accompanied by a cool, clean glass of water. They sit with you and let you tell them your troubles and joys while you sip wine after dinner. They lead you to a cozy, warm bed, tuck you into the down comforter, stoke the fire, and bar the door against the elements and anything else that could hurt you. As you close your eyes and listen to the crackle of the fire, you let out a deep sigh as you realize how bone-weary you have become, carrying that load on that long journey; and you think, briefly, of how much farther you have yet to carry it. But for that evening, it all falls away, and you have not a single worry in the world.
That’s the feeling I had with you.
Mary Senter writes in a cabin in the woods on the shores of Puget Sound. She earned certificates in literary fiction writing from the University of Washington and an M.A. in strategic communication from WSU. Her work can be found in Chaleur, SHARK REEF, Claudius Speaks, Six Hens, FewerThan500, Red Fez, and others. Visit her at www.marysenter.com.