I know we're not at the Trading Post on vacation, per se, but we're still at an Inn on the beach with nothing productive to do. In some ways, it's maddening for the four of us who know what's coming; we just want to go home, and it keeps us from appreciating the fact that, again, we're in a nice spot on the beach with no demands on our time.
Of course, this would be a little easier to appreciate if the sun would come out. Both times we've been up here, it's been overcast even when it isn't actually raining. Since we're just missing the official kick-off to the tourist season - we'll be out of here just before Memorial Day weekend - there's a lot of sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves going on.
And that's not good. Drew, Jeff and I were sitting in Drew's room, watching the morning edition of SportsCenter, when I decided enough was enoug. "Come on," I said, "let's catch the train up to Portland and do something. Do some shopping, see a movie, look around a little. I hear it's a cool little city."
"I'd like to," Drew said, "but I've got a date. Or, rather, 'Daphne' does." I must have been giving him the same look that Jeff was, because he got a little defensive. "Hey, it's not like that. I was at the Beerfest yesterday, while you two were calling... Uh, anyway, I was over on the pier when this good-looking guy about Daphne's age called out her name. I didn't recognize him, but apparently they met and hit it off last summer, only to have her disappear when... You know. So I vamped my way through the afternoon, called Daph in Vermont, got treated to the strange sound of a James Earl Jones-sounding guy doing the 'like, oh my god, he remembered me? He's so cute!' thing... So I'm setting things up for her."
I was impressed. "That's nice of you."
"Well, I don't know if it'll go anywhere, but she deserves it, right? I know first-hand that her time to meet people was limited, all the hours we had her working. But you guys have a good time."
Jeff had nothing else to do, so at quarter to twelve we got on the train for the fifteen minute ride up to Portland, then take the city bus downtown. It stops right outside a public market, a few steps away from a pretty cool downtown village.
"Village" to me, "big city" to Jeff. Not that it looked like New York or Tokyo to him, but his life has been in a small town and his time as Brianna was spent in the suburbs. I wonder what his reaction would have been had he landed in Boston or someplace bigger. He realized he was gaping, though, and closed his mouth. "So, what are we going to do first?"
"Some shopping, I think. It's going to get nicer this week, and we're going to want some swimsuits when it does."
"What? Are you kidding me? After everything I told you..."
"Yeah. Here's the thing." I found a bench and sat him down. "We've kind of got to find some way to get some good memories out of this."
"Why? We're better off just putting it behind us."
"Well, I don't have that option."
Jeff blushed. "I'm sorry; I know that. But why shouldn't I?"
"Do you think you'll really be able to? I mean, is this the kind of thing you forget?
"See, here's the thing, Jeff. I don't want to think, every time I look at a pretty girl, that underneath it her life actually sucks. That she's stuck in some situation she can't get out of, or that when she has sex it's just a matter of obligation. Do you want to look at every girl you meet and imagine their lives being just like Brianna's?"
"Exactly. So let's try to have fun until we change. Now, let's see what's in this "Old Port" the tourist guides are talking about..."
We poked around a little, checking out some little shops. The teenager working in the kite store was kind of into "Brianna", and Jeff awkwardly flirted with him for a few minutes. I don't know how much it helped, but he said it did feel kind of good, just in terms of being a reminder that sometimes guys just like talking to pretty girls without wanting something from them. We did buy swimsuits, too, although by then it was raining pretty good.
We finished our afternoon out with seafood that had probably just been hauled out of the ocean that day. Jeff actually giggled as he watched me eat mine. "I'll bet Ray would be jealous if he saw how muh you were enjoying that."
"Heh. I'm just thinking... We don't get a lot of swordfish out on the west coast, or it's really expensive. I'll miss that, at least."
"So you are going to change? I know you mentioned maybe sitting it out if it looked like there would be 14 people in the Inn one night."
"Yeah... I mean, as shitty a thing as this is for Jeremy to do to me - and he's almost certainly involved somehow; it's just too much of coincidence that both those bags have San Francisco addresses - that doesn't give me the right to act shitty toward Liz. She wants and deserves her family and life back, and I've got a pretty weak claim on it."
"Well, at least you'll be going home. Should make it easier to hunt him down and get some sort of answer."
"Yeah. There is that. Not to mention following the A's is a pain in the ass when their games don't start until 10 o'clock at night."
"Glad to see you've got things in perspective. So... have you read your letter yet?"
"No... I mean, there's two names, and the stuff in those letters is pretty personal. I wouldn't want to read one not intended for me."
"I guess." He looked at the clock. "Almost six o'clock. We should probably be getting back to the station; it would suck to miss the last train and be stuck here overnight if this is the night..."
So we did, and caught back up with Drew. He filled us in on his afternoon, saying it was a real bummer for him.... He's sure that the office is going to lose Daphne for sure; this guy adores her and seems like a good guy. Then he demanded we show him the swimwear. Only, we insisted, if he did the same. He agreed so fast that we probably should have asked for more.
I've got to say... We all look pretty good. I don't know if it'll be quite nice enough to spend today laying on the beach, but tomorrow looks like it could be... If we're still girls, that is.