We were having a hard time deciding how to spend our anniversary. We had some ideas, some small desires, but nothing stood out in the week leading up to it. We wanted to be outside, or close to it, to forget the stresses of our jobs and life, to make a memory, to be together. There were the usual minor disagreements about the details which conspired to stall the larger decisions. And there was unfortunate pressure we put on ourselves to make it perfect, to meet some vague self-imposed romantic standard.
So Friday came and I professed my love on this site and then met her at home. We went to dinner at a restaurant new to us just a mile away, brought a bottle of Syrah with that we brought back from our honeymoon in California and which turned out to be excellent, ate delicious food — risotto, pork tenderloin, chicken, cheescake — and drank the wine. Afterwards, feeling the warmth of wine and a fine meal, we strolled down the dark leaf-covered sidewalk to the car.
After dinner, we saw “North Country,” a new movie about the groundbreaking sexual harrassment class action lawsuit on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota in the 1980s. It was difficult to watch at times, but very, very good. A rare movie that can show you a dark side of your home, but somehow you leave the theater feeling proud that it’s your home. It’s a totally fictionalized account, and I hope I’m not the only person who saw it and felt compelled to learn more about the reality of the events.
In the morning I woke up early and dropped my car off at the Tires Plus a few blocks away for an oil change and some other maintenance that would take about an hour. I walked home, stopping to get a cup of coffee along the way, enjoying the cool gray morning. I walked down the middle of a quiet street for a short ways to admire the tunnel of red and orange created by the maples.
I thought about writing and thought that as much as I want to write stories, stories about people and the landscape in whch they live, I tend to treat my characters as nothing more than part of the landscape, and often, not a very complex or interesting part. It came to me that I am scared to write truly human characters, or to even try. Before I could figure out why, or how to fix the problem, I was home.
Back in the apartment, with bluegrass on the radio, we packed a week’s worth of stuff for a trip out of town that we weren’t sure would last longer than the afternoon and then we hit the road north.