Navigator 

Morgan and I traversed the twin cities of Minnesota this weekend. And I was reminded again of my daring nonchalance when I am a stranger in a new place, my desire never to draw attention to myself, my cautiousness in unfamiliar places, my easy relationship with trees and the sun.

We drove across northern Wisconsin after work. Only stopping to fuel up once. Morgan has this great skill at turning the most mundane of actions into fun. Finding the adventure in every step. We stared in exhausted disbelief at one another when we arrived to our free accommodations, courtesy of Morgan’s friend from the salsa dance scene. A one-room at the top of an old building with easy access to a shared hallway bathroom. We lost it when we pulled out the futon to make our bed and laughed at all the worries we’d had prior to actually seeing where we would be sleeping. We chattered and hummed and danced our way to the Minnesota campus where Morgan began the day following a stranger to class and realizing that she is still not like all the rest. I wandered alone and realized again that I am still not like all the rest. I met her exuberant at the purple onion where we regrouped. We ate fries and bought t-shirts and walked in circles for hours. Criss-crossing the Minnesota campus until the street names became familiar. We searched the cities for fancy desserts and then drove just north to an older couple’s home whom Morgan met while tour guiding in Ecuador. We played with their pug and ate homemade pizzas and laughed at the story of how they met and the ongoing stories of their 22 year marriage. “Once you’re in your thirties and you’ve already been married, you know who you are and you know what you want.”

I drank 2 stouts and tried to stay awake and focused on the drive home.

Saturday we sat side by side in a booth so we could both look out onto the sunlit street. We walked for hours along the Mississippi River and found Indian burial mounds and admired dogs and she stated after every bike that rode past, “I love bikes.” I thought about how I had grown up among fields and woods and always strayed. I thought about jumping on iced over creek beds and running through decrepit country cemeteries and cutting my face on rogue tree branches. We sat in the sun until we were hot. We stretched out in the car for a bit of a rest and drew the attention of passers by.

We laughed until we choked in the Turkish restaurant after Morgan declared her attraction to our waiter. I ate dolma (grape leaves) and thought of other Turkish dinners I’ve had and all the lives I’ll never lead.

I thought of how when I opened my eyes and looked into your ear I could see your soul. A recognition there I cannot ever put into words because no words will bring it to life or make it right. A feeling far too advanced for my understanding.

Morgan stopped the parking enforcement officer. We ate ice cream and wandered the busy street. We laughed at kids and danced around and jumped out of doorways. We lost track of time. The sun set and we got cold. We didn’t buy any impractical junk. We walked back to our home and I spilled her leftover breakfast. Hash browns smushed into gray thick carpet. We lay in the bed and watched YouTube videos of men in Trex costumes. How do you explain YouTube to someone who has never been on the Internet? We dream of Peru and we try to imagine who we will be in 6 months. Will we ever know more than we know now?

Morgan and I are different–everyone says so. She is positive and loud and present, noticeable, a force. I am quiet, reserved and lean back. I hesitate. A positive and a negative. But we work in tandem. I remind her to wait and she reminds me to move. We are able to laugh at the other and forgive the other and we don’t compromise our own characteristics or qualities to make the other happy. We trust that if we fall short or overstep that the other person will take notice and let us know, or the other person will give us the space necessary to be. I think what counts is that we’ve both found our space in the world. We’ve found how we prefer to navigate and succeed in that. We’re separate “but equal!” As Morgan shouted at the college boy who rang us up for our veggie platters at the Turkish restaurant. The one who is majoring in middle eastern and religious studies. Morgan: you have a lot in common! Me: why? Because we both like the Middle East? Cue nonsensical laughter.

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