After the Shannon conversation, Eric remembered me. Sort of. The vague glint of recognition in his eyes was replaced by a smile, a wave, and a shout. Sometimes he called me “the little girl”, sometimes “the girl with the red jeep”, and sometimes “the hot 38 year old”. He never remembered my name.
Katie and I went to see the band several times a month at local bars. I was on a mission to try as many kinds of beer as possible. Katie and her boyfriend were on a mission, apparently, to argue as much as humanly possible. They were like one of those couples who are so adorable in movies and TV: amazing chemistry when they were fighting, not so much when they weren’t. (Rachel and Ross aren’t nearly as adorable in real life) Sometimes I wished she would just date the drummer.
One night in June, the band was playing at a place called The Dock. It was located off the back of a restaurant and only open in the summer. It was, quite literally, a tent on a dock. In nice weather, they would remove the side panels and you could sit on the edge of the dock, elbows on the rail, and look out over the harbor as the boats clanged against the moorings. The Dock made me homesick for California. (can you BE homesick for a place you never really considered home?)
My ex and I used to spend nights at a beachside bar in Santa Cruz after days on the sand or hiking in the coastal mountains. I’d perch on the rail and lean backward against his chest, and he’d wrap his arms around me. We’d look up into the sky and he’d point out constellations while I looked for the bats that flew around the brackish water. (We never could figure out why bats were attracted to the beach) The Dock reminded me of summer nights in Santa Cruz.
Back in Massachusetts, I was leaning out from the deck, looking for bats. (They didn’t seem to like the ocean on the east coast ) Suddenly, the band gathered around the table. The first set had ended and I hadn’t even noticed. The drummer raised his beer and announced that it was a special night: Eric’s divorce was finalized.
Maybe it was my melancholy mood that made me notice. Maybe I would have noticed anyway. While the rest of the crew were cheering and clinking bottles, Eric was gazing over my head into the harbor where I had just been searching for bats. He was not cheering. He looked sad.
I reached out and placed my hand on his forearm: “I’m sorry.”
His eyes flickered down to mine and away: “Yeah.”
After the second set, we played a round of “Who’s the Biggest Loser”. I thought I had it clinched. But “I-just-got-divorced-and-now-live-in-my-brother’s-guest-room-with-no-personal-touches-except-a-poster-of-the-joker” beats “I-live-over-my-best-friend’s-garage” every time.
(Sorry to drag it out..but I'm exhausted. The finale will be here next week.)