April 16, 2022

On our first date, I gave you the keys to my car, let you drive us all the way to the Washington side of the Gorge. I didn’t have a smartphone then. I don’t remember if you had a map, other than the hiking guide that told you how to locate the Wind Mountain Trail—so remote, we were the only ones at the trailhead, and we passed no other humans while we walked. Ten years down the line, I wonder at that: my willingness to trust you with my car, my life. How I followed you through a fog-banked forest, and at one point, slipped in the mud. How I lied and said I’d been meaning to get new boots anyway, so sure, we could go for a hike in the middle of November, when in fact I hadn’t owned a pair of hiking boots since I was a child. When we reached the summit, the Gorge was still shrouded in fog. When we came down, we leaned on the back of my car and ate trail mix out of the trunk. I don’t remember how it happened, but at one point, I turned, and you were gone. And there was a moment—more than a moment—when I stood in the damp, insistent silence and wondered if I had made you up. Wondered if I had climbed in the car of my own accord at eight a.m. on a Sunday morning and driven myself to a place I would never figure out how to come back from. But then, you emerged from the mist of the woods, and I stood spooked on the gravel, my voice hooked in my throat, until you held out your hand, and I handed over the keys once more.

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