We arrived at the farm and were greeted by two large, hairy dogs. Looked more ferocious than they were of course. Walked into the main house and the light and warmth and delicious smells emanating from the oven were just sideshows, appetizers, tasters, compared to the love and acceptance of the older couple waiting for us.
We stopped bickering for their sake, and helped finish up the salad and sat down to eat. The meal went smoothly, with only a few pricks and barbs here and there tossed across the table, sideways, up and down, landing and hitting their target but with no visible retaliation. What was wrong with all of us? Each side of our triangle was fracturing, stretching our ties. It had never happened like this before. Of course we all fought, but never at once, and never with such intensity.
It was warm enough to have a bonfire outside, so we sat in 3 wooden Adirondack chairs pulled close to the flames. It was big; we kept on tossing on more logs so our jeans heated up and burned our legs, and it was here that we really let loose. We each emptied out our bitter poisons to the others, not letting subjects and comments slide, and we said hurtful things that normally we would hold in, that normal people would hold in. But the big black starry sky seemed to draw out the worst in us. Maybe it was the wood smoke, stinging our eyes. Maybe the chill creeping in through our rubber boots and freezing our toes. Maybe the coyotes and the mules making their various sounds, and unsettling us.
Maybe we were all just tired. Maybe it was stress. Maybe none of us had the energy to care enough to wonder that what we were saying had weight, that maybe this wasn't the time or the place to be unloading on each other. Maybe none of us plain old cared about the others. Maybe it was the weather, the more dark and less light, maybe it was "that time of month", maybe we had problems we weren't sharing. Maybe...
My mom has always told me my whole life that nothing stays the same. Things change, people change, you move, you stay in the same city. And you have to adjust to the change, or else you fail at life, basically (Ok, she never used those exact words.). To bloom where you're planted (She has used those words). Most adults I've met through my years aren't friends with their friends from elementary school. Or juniour high. Or high school. Rarely, you find someone who keeps in contact with an old college roomie, a best-friend from university. This never used to strike me as sad, in fact, the opposite would occur. When I met an adult who still had friends from their childhood, it would seem sort of wimpy, small-town and small-minded. But what do I know, right? My views are as twisted, backwards, and messed-up as everyone else's.
So we fought. Before going to bed, smelling of glorious woodsmoke and fresh air, one of them mentioned to me that she felt angry. I told her I felt hollow. Yes! she said, Hollow and empty and mean.
Exactly. Hollow. Empty. Mean. Angry.
Woke up twice in the night to throw on logs to the cabin fire -place so we wouldn't freeze. It was a team effort, all three of us moving in the dark to hold the flashlight, find the matches, toss in the wood and get it started again. We didn't speak. Just stood half-dead with tiredness and prayed that the coals hadn't gone out completely. Stumbled back up the loft ladder.
It was light when we got up and ran back to the main house for breakfast. Pancakes and eggs and bacon. Coffee and orange juice. Good food, warming and filling food, good for your soul food. It helped a little. Each day is a chance to start fresh, a new chance to make things right. We made a bit more of an effort. Before we left after breakfast, we went charging around in the woods for 1/2 hour, scaring partridges and getting mud on our boots, pine needles in our hair, stirring up mist and watching the sun try to shine through a heavy grey sky. We didn't really talk on the drive back into the city, but we had some fun singing along to songs. We didn't say anything of importance.
Maybe we didn't have anything of importance to say.