The cops are everywhere, suddenly, while the waitress pours my fourth cup of coffee. We watch, through the enormous windows, as they scurry down the trail, and speed into the parking lot. We don’t know yet but the firetrucks and ambulances are here as well. The guy nearest the window says, “A girl went off the bridge.” He’s wrong, but we don’t know that yet either.
The first of January. Our coffee rich and bright, and this stark day has become starker still. A leap into the river on a January morning in the Pacific Northwest. I think of the slip knots I tied with hemp. Practicing for over an hour, knot after knot, the red cord in my hands. The slender hold we have on anything. I’m closer to forty all the time. What a strange delight to be young no longer. To have, at this late hour, so much joy, and nothing to prove.
My grandmother would call me a girl still. The kids in Moonrise Kingdom are only twelve. Twelve and convicted. Do you remember? What we felt then was sure to be permanent, wasn’t it? What we knew with such certainty. Love like a war bellow inside us. There is only this.
I’ll be 38 on Sunday. Grey in my hair. Less certain all the time. But I’ve got the slip knot down. The beautiful twists and pull, and the way it holds and isn’t stuck. The way it moves and holds. Moves and holds.
Love now, the unpredictable story of it, the surprise! is just astonishing. Like the river, turning this fellow — this dude who’d leaped to escape police pursuit — into their eager arms. Rescued. Sort of. Fished out. Fished free.