We parked at the edge of the world. Left our wallets in the car and ran over the endless sand, towards the waves.It was freezing cold, the sky was gray, yet birds swooped and soared while my children ran free.And we were happy.
We tucked ourselves into my Aunt and Uncle’s cabin, there at the edge of the world. With its nightlights and puzzles and white boards galore. We ate popcorn and played softball. The girls ran in the yard with colored ribbons swirling in the sky around their head, trails of kaleidoscope colors announcing joy.
We stood at the edge of the world, amidst old growth forests of the Quinault rain forest, gazing silently at a herd of Roosevelt Elk grazing there in the trees. Gathered at the edge of their world, we peered in from the edge of ours, and for mere moments in time, our two worlds overlapped.
We pretended to be Alice, falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland while our hair dripped droplets of rain. Our path wound past waterfalls and rivers, ever higher toward the sky as purple flowers sang of spring.
Damon and I walked together, as we have for nearly twenty years now. When we first met, he told me his favorite place in all the world was the Olympic Rainforest. I had never been, had never even heard of it. Yet I silently vowed, one day we will go together, you and me, to this enchanted land of yours to see.
As we drove towards the edge of the world, there in the car, I told the kids the plan. “Tomorrow we will go to the Olympic Rainforest, because way back in college, your dad told me it was the most beautiful spot that he knew of on this earth, and now Dad will show it to us, too.”
Damon looked over at me with a puzzled expression and said nonchalantly, “I don’t think I ever said that, did I? My favorite place in all the world is the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which is way over on the other side of the state.”
As we careened ever forward, towards the edge of the world, my heart gasped in disbelief. I felt it wilt a bit at the edges, like a flower left too long in the sun. How had I thought this was his favorite place all this time? Had I made it up? Had I heard incorrectly? Had he forgotten he’d said that, even as I’d grasped onto it for twenty years as a secret goal to be shared between the two of us, one day, someday?
Twenty years had swirled past, and today the day had arrived. Out my window miles of sea water washed back and forth, back and forth, upon the grainy sand. My mind floated, gray and cloudy, backwards and forwards, like the changing tide.
Had I heard it wrong…or had he forgotten?
Did it even matter? We were here now, at the edge, where the weather shifted constantly overhead. Sunny, cloudy, pouring rain, freezing, windy, then sunny skies again. No way to predict. No way to know if your choice of clothing would turn out right or wrong, comfortable or unbearable, maybe both in turns…just like a marriage, I mused.
We parked our car there at the edge of the world, near the Lake Quinault Lodge. My wilted heart bloomed again. This place was straight out of ‘Sound of Music’ – a chalet on the shores of a lapping lake, towering trees, rows of colored kayaks, blue shuttered windows, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…
“Should we turn back?” I asked, my heart shriveling again. “Of course not!” Damon said, standing and limping toward the water’s edge. “I’m fine. Let’s keep going.”
We walked in the rain, up a mossy path. Damon did not complain. He sang songs with the kids and let me take as many pictures as I wanted, which was tens, hundreds, too many to count, because who can believe their eyes when they are at the edge of the world and wild elk are staring at you across the river?
We drove back to the cabin in the dark, along the craggy coastline of the world we knew, perched at the edge of a world unknown. Yet we were together, still.
“Let’s keep going, always…” I said to myself, there in the car, in the dark, at the edge of time, the edge of us. Damon smiled across at me, his leg propped up on the dash-board, and onwards we went, side-by-side.