It was a Saturday morning. We got up early and kissed hello. We sipped our usual morning coffee without the usual morning television and read over the lists. We packed the car up full, wedging the bag with the Frisbees in between the bag with the three pairs of shoes and the cooler stuffed with towels. We shut the door, then shut it again, remembering the thick rubber trim made it water—and slam-proof.
We got in and turned the radio on. We wondered aloud why every station was foggy with static, but left it. We blasted a twangy, beachy song and marveled at the day. We didn’t talk about our jobs, our families or our meals. We rounded the bend outside city limits and our phones lost their connections with the towers. We were out of town.
We saw signs for it before we knew where we going. We relied on muscle memory to guide us the way we hoped we remembered. We disagreed about whose idea it was to leave without directions. We knew it didn’t matter. We turned around a couple times, but when we drove up, it was even better than the photographs. We declared a parking spot in the patch of gravel to the right and got out.
We soaked up the view, ran down the hill, took extra long reading the signs and racked up dozens of photos on the DSLR, just because we could. We laughed when he picked me up with one arm and hoisted me over a patch my heels couldn’t walk. We smiled graciously when a stranger asked if we wanted our picture taken. We said yes.
We were hungry, so we drove up the road to the winery. We got distracted by an aging gas station and a 12-pronged road sign on the way. We baked in the sun as we tried to peel off the top of the Jeep, our first time, and guessed if the pack of dogs scoping us out were strays or owned by a nearby berry farmer. We hoped it was the latter.
We spent too much money at a fruit stand that wasn’t even on the Loop, and popped trial berries into our mouths long after we knew they’d do. We drove to the tasting room and held our breath at the sight. We saw blue sky, green grass and rainbow hills in every inch of the horizon. We knew it was perfect.
We sipped wine and decided what it tasted like, conjuring images of leather straps and cigars, peaches and nectarines. We knew we were wrong, and we didn’t care. We exchanged our IDs for a sack of bocce balls and walked to the courts. We trash talked and joked, boasting about who was more Italian as if a game could know. We had fun and hated knowing it would have to end.
We woke early the next day to do it all over again. We checked out before the early-bird bicyclists, and bragged to ourselves of the feat. We reached the summit on the hardest trail in the park, using a compass instead of a brochure to name the far-away peaks that looked close enough to touch. We drove to a lake and hung out the back of the car, drinking fancy lemon water poached from the hotel lobby, our hands dripping with juice from a lunch of fresh-cut mangoes sliced with a switchblade.
We drove home, racing the sunshine as it flickered against the waterway beside us. We listened to the only station that came through and heard the same Taylor Swift song so many times we were exhausted of emotion for it. We mocked it, we loved it, we hated it, and finally we chose to end it. We turned the radio off. We held hands and counted bugs on the windshield as if they were fireflies dancing in the sweet summer air. We made promises to each other and to ourselves to do this more often. We vowed to never let the weight of routine hold us down, to not forget what it’s about. And we meant it.