Another postcard competition, another story under 500 words...
You coast along Pacific Ocean Highway in your rented gold Lancer sipping a latte. Twisty roads through stunted brown hills take you to your destination. For once, you are not lost and find the address on the first try. A satellite truck is parked in the driveway. You are here so Dave Thomas ⎯ the non-Wendy's one, of the Mackenzie brothers’ fame ⎯ can do live interviews with Canadian entertainment reporters for a Red Cap beer promotion. It is mid-May and Bob and Doug’s 24th anniversary. He is laid up in an easy chair because of recent surgery on his Achilles tendon. This, he says, is something he wishes on no one. A blonde woman wearing yoga pants and a hot pink T-shirt makes brief appearances to bring him orange juice.
The event takes a turn for the worse because⎯ you learn five minutes before the first interview⎯Verizon does not provide an analog signal in these rolling Malibu mountains. The truck operator panics. Your cursing trumps his as you trouble shoot your way through the unforeseen mess that is beyond your pay scale. You take the cameraman’s suggestion of the scenic route back to your hotel in Santa Monica.
You buy a pint of strawberries from a fellow on the side of the road. He writes his phone number on your map. You are flattered, not bothered. He too, is looking for adventure this afternoon. You thank him for the berries.
You take Topanga Canyon Road and stop to call your sister. She didn’t know you were in California and you enjoy a quick chat because you were both huge Six Feet Under fans – addicts to be precise—and you are near to where Aunt Sarah lived in her wooded, artsy make believe home.
LAX is the only place you have ever seen cinnamon Tic Tacs. You buy six boxes. Your flight is delayed. You dip into your travel snacks early. A recyclable Whole Foods container filled with brussel sprouts, orzo, roasted garlic, walnut bits, dried cranberries.
On the flight you watch The Bucket List. During the part in the movie where they go skydiving you are flying over the same exact place. You also, are a skydiver. You think, what are the odds?
You land safely back in Vancouver and pass through customs unscathed. He is there waiting for you, holding a pineapple. No time to buy flowers, he says. He will cook catfish for dinner and grill the fruit to go with it.
You already knew that.
As you cross the bridge on the drive home you think about how you like to travel. How even the muddled trips where jobs go awry have a curious appeal. You run a hand around the back of his neck, touch his hair and smile. His eyes soften. You like to travel. But you love to come home.