|There are days I converse with clouds.|
There are days I converse with clouds. This morning found me in deep conversation with these soaring souls flying over Mount Tremont.
“I blame it on Emily,” I told them.
Like all good interrogators, they looked at me without a word. Perhaps a trace of condescension in their eyes.
“Seriously. It’s not something I usually do.”
Did they shift to accusatory looks?
“Before she came around it only happened once. And I was young then. Young and in love and raging with hormones.”
Don’t you hate the silent treatment? When you’re guilty, it compels you to babble on.
“It took thirty years for it to happen a second time. That first time was at midnight in Lake Cochituate. Heather and I couldn’t sleep. So we drove down to the lake and jumped in.”
“Fine. We didn’t just jump in if you must know. We jumped in with nothing but the pink of our bottoms on. Stark naked. God that was fun!”
The clouds seemed critical, but I was on a roll, and confession came easily.
“The second time was down in Key West this winter. We went for a late-night walk, and the air was sultry and sweet. A gentle wind stirred memories of days gone by. The hushed ebb and flow of lazy waves were like whispers of seduction.”
A few of the clouds were now listening raptly.
“And there the three of us were, hidden from the road by a dense lengthy and towering hedge. There was no one around. Samwise was wading in the Atlantic, Emily splashed in, and I thought…well, I thought, ‘What the hell?’ so off came the clothes and in I went. Sam stood guard – did I ever tell you he’s a good guard dog? – while Emily and I swam in circles as free and unencumbered as the day we were born. It was glorious—even if it was against the law.”
Did one of the clouds snigger?
You know that feeling when you are in close quarters with someone, and they are not carrying on their end of the conversation? Uncomfortable, right? So what do you do? You talk twice as much, and sometimes hurriedly because it’s so awkward your tongue feels like a runaway locomotive.
Those massive clouds leaned over me as I stood in that field of yellow and green. I could almost feel their breath on me.
“The other day it was hot. Scorching really. We were out walking and made our way down to the river. Gosh, it felt good to wade in the Saco. Those river stones shimmering under the clear water like magic. Emily was splashing around—having a ball. Even Samwise left his feet and moved smoothly across to the other side.
“I looked around. Should I?"
By now the clouds were pressing around us, leaning in as if fearful of missing a single word.
“Yes. Yes! I know, it was broad daylight. Middle of the afternoon. But I couldn’t help it. We walked further downstream, half in the river and half along the bleached stones. When we reached a bend we’d been at a few days earlier, the place where the tree is laying across the water, almost touching it, even though it’s very much alive still…
“I realized no one would be coming from downstream and the foliage of that tree partially blocked anyone seeing us. The water was still here. It was deeper. Samwise studied me because he sensed something different about to happen. Emily watched Samwise’s reaction but also kept her eyes on me. I took my hat off, placed my Fitbit, keys, and glasses in it and hung it from a small branch. Next came my shirt. Finally, off came my shorts. I hung each neatly on a branch. I thought Samwise was going to faint. Like Atticus before him, he’s all about dignity. But that little otter Emily saw me walking into the water naked and she came splashing to meet me like she was late for a party, full of glee and happiness bubbles.
“When I took the plunge – oh, God – did that feel amazing! Next thing I know Emily and I are treading water. Samwise then left the constant reassurance of the shore and swam out to meet us. Together we frolicked. We frolicked and smiled and blew bubbles and snorted.
“For once Samwise acted his age. Emily…well I think she was about to burst with happiness. And me…?
“Hey, don’t look at me like that. Yeah, I’m talking to you, the third cloud from the right! The judgmental one.
“I didn’t hurt anyone and it was glorious! How often does a fifty-seven-year-old get to feel like a five-year-old, especially in these troubled times?”
A few of the clouds nodded in agreement. Others followed. Then came a landslide of approval. Even the tight-lipped one in the back giggled.
“See, that’s what I’m talking about. We had a ball. And yes, I still do blame it on Emily. Atticus loved mountains so we climbed thousands of them. Samwise looks skyward, so we drive with the top down even on some winter days. Emily finds joy in most anything, but nothing tickles her like swimming.
“If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of making this little dog happy and – fine, making myself happy, too!”
As we all laughed together, the clouds and me, and even Samwise (now relieved) and Emily, I struck a serious tone. “You know, everything changed two years ago. There’s no going back. Ever. Why should I wait to feel happy, especially when it is right in front of me?”