Thursday, July 06, 2006
Lower Priest Lake Fourth of July
I traded shifts, left work early, turned my cell phone off just so I could get two days off in a row. Coming down out of the hills over Lake Coeur D’Alene and the city, the north is flat as far as I see through the bug spattered windshield. I see your mountain from here, far on the other side of I-90. I meet you there, in Rathdrum, sleep at your house. The next morning we wake early, make out, go shopping. I was at Priest Lake once, but I was young and I don’t remember.
When we leave I drive into nothing, everything is new. After we pass the S near Spirit Lake, the road falls into a valley and I am enclosed by hills like I haven’t been since I left home. In the Cascades, growing up, I felt life in the claustrophobic gorges the roads snaked through. Here I hold onto your hand and watch the familiar peaks pass. At Priest River we dip into Washington then turn onto Highway 2 back into Idaho. I rode Highway 2 to get home from the hospital at birth, then drove it every day since I turned sixteen: it is magic to me. But we turn off, heading north.
There we find a Student Driver car in the ditch, a deer fifty meters later, then a valley that reminds me of Stevens Pass. I pass an airport, ranger station, campgrounds, river, restaurant, and numerous bars before turning onto Reeder Bay Road and glimpsing Chimney Rock. We stay in a cabin across the lake from Chimney. There I meet your family. There I try out an underwater camera, a jet ski, a few chairs on the beach, a diving board, two boats, and a few conversations. Two days later the fireworks are gone, half the family has left, we’re running low on money, and I have to get to work.
This is a vacation. This is a celebration. This is a reunion. I feel more at home here, among your family, than I have in years. Life takes hold of me and won’t let me leave the futon, the blanket on the beach, the plastic chair in the shade, the air-mattress we play Scrabble on. Love too.
The drive back is sober. We don’t want to touch each other for fear of sunburnt skin, but lust gets the better of us. We make out at your house just long enough for me to be late for work, after climbing back up into the hills above Coeur D’Alene.