A river road. Two lanes – one in each direction – twisting and turning along a levee. Tracing the edge of a river that empties into the sea. A place where memories may fall like rain drops and flow with the current, endlessly reaching towards a destination.
Somewhere along the way she tells you that bicycling was the only version of sex she had. Her husband wasn’t interested anymore and so, something about the pressure and friction was all she could count on. She tells you this while you are bicycling together. More than once. It becomes one of the things that breaks up the monotony of your workplace friendship. A few of those bike rides were on the river road.
A river road. Two people spinning along. The river to the left. Fields to the right. The sun beating down. And soon you had replaced the bicycle seat. For a year you dallied.
You remember moments. Fucking her on the stairs. Making love in front of a fire, flames crackling and spitting. The roundness of her eyes. The desire in her. Her small, quiet moans. And then it was over. Just like that. You remember though, early on, when you tell her you love her and before she mumbled the words back, her eyes darted to the side. You knew, but you chose to ignore the evidence. You were on the river. Love would take you to its destination. But you were traveling alone. She wasn’t following the flow with you. No. She was at a lake splashing about for a bit. For her it was a vacation. Not a journey.
But you remember. Just like a river carves its path, your memories do as well.
Years later, you meet another woman. You go for a drive down the river road with her by your side. In a flurry, what you call a test, you pull over and you kiss her. You remember this. Her gasp and the feel of her lips meeting yours. You remember what followed. More pleasure than you thought possible. Stolen moments too numerous to count.
You remember the curve of her hip. How she fit within your embrace. The glistening in her eyes and the depth in her voice when she said those three words and how when you said them yourself, you had never, ever meant them any more than in those moments. You remember that together it felt everything was possible. This was the one. All of those conversations with friends that challenged the idea there could be “one” were blown into bits. You knew and to this day you remember. It is possible. It is. Absolutely. Possible. The pleasure you felt was possible only because of this connection that was made. You knew suddenly that there was something deeper and fuller and more real than anything you have ever experienced before. It wasn’t just the pleasure at the surface. This is the thing that went all the way down to the roots of your being. That exposed your soul in the burst of a million exploding suns.
The river had rapids and you knew that, but you had faith. This would last. It was strong enough. Only it wasn’t. It ended. What you remember as perfection could not withstand the hammering of those rapids. It broke apart. But you remember everything about it. The looks. The smiles. The laughs. The touches. The passion. That together every thing could have been possible. You remember this. Every day and every hour. This memory never leaves you, just like the river never leaves the land.
You drive the river road now with another. You remember these things. The river is wide and beautiful. Powerful and relentless. It flows unendingly into the sea. And your memories are right there with you, relentless and powerless. Of the connection this road has with your memories of things that were and things that could have been.
As you drive and the sun sets, you search for other memories and cannot find them. You do not remember the last time you made love to this woman by your side now. You do not remember the passion or the desire. You have lost any sense of the kind of need you felt before. The unadulterated, out of control need for all of it.
In the place of those memories of life and love flowing through you like the river that tracks with the road you now drive, is a dry creek bed. Parched and cracked and withering in the blasting heat of a summer sun. There is no life or love to be found here. Without those memories, what is there to hold on to.