Avi made breakfast for Charlie after she woke up, then they got dressed and left for their date. Mitch watched them from the kitchen window, and heard her gasp about how pretty the scenery was while she pointed at the foliage. So far, Avi’s plan appeared to be working, and Mitch privately gave a thumbs up as a means of sending good energy.
He couldn’t imagine being apart from a significant other on such a consistent basis like they were. Complicating matters further, the conversation from the night before left Mitch with the impression that Charlie wasn’t exactly eager to leave Washington, either. But she appeared to adore Avi, and hopefully they would work it out.
Yet, something nagged at Mitch. Without a doubt, there were words which were left unsaid, and the underlying tension that Avi kept to himself with did not go unnoticed.
But he also couldn’t spend the day dwelling on it, because he’d only see issues that may not actually exist. And it wasn’t his burden to shoulder. So instead of sulking, he grabbed his camera and announced to Jodie that he was taking off for a bit. She didn’t bother to look up from the stacks of paperwork on the kitchen table which flanked her, only waving him off while she chewed on a pen cap and continued to review documents.
It was a tremendous relief that she paid him little mind while he went about his business, since he didn’t want any attention drawn to the fact that he was getting back into old hobbies. Eventually he’d be up to addressing it, but as of now this remained a more sensitive topic. The reminders that he lost interest in almost all of his passions still made him feel like a colossal failure, even though Ann insisted that he shouldn’t. He wanted to take some comfort in her assessment that this was actually a fairly normal thing that people experienced, but that didn’t make up for the literal years that he lost out on by being depressed and fucked in the head.
Ultimately, there would be no winning this struggle, just acceptance in due time.
He stepped outside inhaled the fresh air, letting it settle deep down in his lungs. Everything was cool and crisp, his favorite kind of weather, and he pulled the hat onto his head, glad for the warmth that it provided. Years ago, Jodie offered to make him a matching scarf, and only now he considered taking her up on the offer. Except he didn’t know if she had another skein of yarn in that color, or if she still knitted at all.
Turning the camera on, he used the stone staircase behind the house to get access to the lake’s shore. The water’s gentle lapping grew louder the closer he got. Setting foot on the small beach, smooth pebbles and sand crunched underfoot every step that he took. To his left, a wooden dock sometimes swayed, and it evoked memories of when he and Jodie were teens and sat there for hours, talking bullshit out of earshot of the adults. This was where he first admitted out loud that he thought about kissing boys more than girls. They were under the light of the moon and stars, 15 years old and in possession of a few stolen nips, scared witless that his best friend would abandon him the moment the words accidentally tumbled from his mouth. But he couldn’t be silent anymore, otherwise it’d continue to let it burn him up inside until one day he’d spontaneously combust and be reduced to ash.
Years later, he retold that story to Jodie, and she was aghast at 15 year old Mitch’s assumptions. Then she hugged him tightly, but only after a good whack upside the head.
He pointed the camera at the end of the dock, imagined them both sitting there half of a lifetime ago, and took the shot. Sure, an empty dock on a fall day was a photography cliche, but he needed a warmup and it felt right to do. A few more shots were taken before moving on, focusing on the lake’s glassy water and the tree’s vivid colors until he was interrupted by rustling that came from the adjacent woods. He turned to look, and saw a lone doe that was frozen in place. “Hi there,” whispered Mitch, and he was able to get some pictures before she disappeared into the thicket.
Eying the canoe upon its sawhorse rack, he was filled with a sense of adventure. Once upon a time, bodies of water incited a phobic reaction; even when he hung out here with Jodie, he never so much as dipped his toes into the lake, enduring the proximity to the water because he liked her enough to do so. But since then, he made great strides to no longer fearful, and thanks to an old roommate he even learned to paddle.
Above, some kind of bird of prey circled, as if to beckon him onto the water. However, it’d be wise to alert someone before embarking. Maybe he could convince Jodie to come out with him, and then he’d try to get a few closeups of the raptor if it was still around.
That was a task for later, when Jodie needed a break from working. He spotted a hammock that was suspended between two trees at the edge of the forest and opted to climb into it. Closing his eyes, he relished in the sporadic cold breeze that rocked him back and forth. For a few moments, he considered how feasible it’d be to move here. When nearly everything fell apart last February, Roland offered the cabin for him to stay at for as long as he needed it, even if that timeline was indefinite.
Without a doubt, he first needed a better car because all of the surrounding roads were mostly dirt and winter would be hell on his ancient Volvo. But he’d been granted the blessing from work to fully go remote, and it was only about an hour and a half away from Monument, which was considerably better than Greenwich’s three hour commute.
A reset may do him well. And maybe this slow-paced setting would get old over time, but maybe that was exactly what he needed for right now: to get the the point where a situation could get old for once, and instead of it becoming exhausting.