Like sands stuck in a cheap hourglass, so ran the day at the office. When the clock ticked down to the final hour, what little acting prowess I possessed I applied to keep Bonnie from seeing the blatant anticipation across my face. The mental list scrolled through all the tasks I wanted to accomplish when I got home, and deciding how to get them done quickly before he arrived likewise added to my anxiety. Grab dinner on the way home? No, I didn’t want him to beat me there and be waiting. Maybe we could pick up a sandwich on our way out of town.
What would we talk about on the drive into the mountains? Geez, what would we talk about for an entire weekend? The man barely spoke. The prospect of an excruciatingly long weekend boded in my near future.
When I turned my key in the lock and listened to the clang of the cow bell on the other side of the glass door, I reminded myself to drive at an appropriate speed back to the apartment. Granted, rush hour in Wyoming, even at half past five on Friday afternoon, might have been a misnomer, but now it more aptly described my excitement in getting started on our weekend. By twenty to six I turned down my street, but ahead I could see his pick-up truck and a long trailer waiting for me. Rushing would now commence, and all attempts to be calm and relaxed failed.
He climbed out of the truck when I turned into the drive. Wearing the same red shirt – the Friday shirt as I now considered it – snug jeans, and work boots, he sported one new accoutrement: a cowboy hat. The brim curled up on the sides and the low front, partially blocking his eyes, the adorable curls still peeking out of its edges. I reminded myself that it was far too early in the weekend to begin flirting with his hat, no matter how it flattered him.
“Hello,” I hollered to him as I exited my own car, grabbing the supplies I picked up that morning. As expected, he said nothing until he neared the door to the house.
He followed me inside, glancing at the pile by the door, which included the tent and sleeping bag. Clearly these items would be joining us.
“It looks like a lot,” I admitted and apologized. “I just didn’t know what to bring. And please excuse the mess. I’m still unpacking and I haven’t had a chance to settle into my apartment yet.”
“May I start taking this out?” He ignored my apology, nor did he examine the space, ignorant of its appearance.
“Um, yes, go ahead, that would be great. Do you mind if I go change clothes and finish packing my last bag?”
“Take your time.” He must have taken at least five items in the span of his arms. At that rate, it wouldn’t take him long to load even my large stack of assorted gear, so I’d better hurry.
I shed my work clothes, washed my face, ran a brush through my hair, and then another one across my teeth, and added just a little gloss and a spritz of cologne, and put on the outfit I pre-selected. Following each finished task, I tossed any items into my bag so all of my last-minute products made it with me into the mountains. I still doubted my clothing choice, but I wasn’t going to bother to make a wardrobe change now. I’d heard the screen door bang three times during this process, so if he wasn’t already done and waiting for me, he would be shortly. I pulled my hair back, threw any remaining items I had used into the open bag on the counter, and scooped it up. I grabbed a piece of bath tissue to dab the accumulated sweat above my lip, and in a final impulse, took the roll of paper off the springs and tossed it into the bag, too. I’d hate to find a vault toilet empty. Before leaving the bathroom, I checked myself in the mirror one last time, then rearranged the items in my tote to hide the bath tissue.
As expected, he waited for me near the door. In polite gesture, he offered to take the bag, but I kept it, and also carried my purse.
“I packed some food, and I have a case of bottled water in the car. Is there anything else I should bring?” I could think of a dozen things if given the chance.
“I’ve got that covered.”
“Oh, wonderful. Thanks.” I looked around to make sure he had taken everything. Of course, he had. “I guess I’m ready. Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
No response. This was going to be a long weekend.
He lead the way to the street, not noticing I stopped to confirm I had my keys, and then I locked the door. He opened the passenger door for me, and my scurrying to make up the distance between us eliminated an awkward moment curbside. I climbed upward into the truck, and the height did feel like a climb. Besides some dirt on the floor, the surprisingly clean vehicle filled with the aroma of fried chicken. He indeed had dinner covered.
I set the tote and purse at my feet, while he walked around the front of the truck. As I secured my seatbelt I glanced out the back window noticing where he tucked my belongings under a netting. To my relief, I appeared to have less gear than him, including a chainsaw, a shovel, and two tall, blue jugs which could have been water, and a smaller, red container, which I presumed was for gas. Sure, he packed a tent and sleeping back and a duffle bag, too, and in total our gear nearly filled the majority of the truck bed. I turned back around as his door closed and I waited for the engine to start and for this virtual stranger to drive me into the mountains.