Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gambling

We're here for only as long as it takes him to get the shot. He has an image in his mind, and he needs to replicate this in a photo. He's looked at pictures in books and brochures, so he knows what's out there. He thinks he can go and find it. He thinks he can do better.

I am along for the ride. I'm a secretary for the big company we both work for. I remember the day he first came into the office. He had flown in from the West. He was bigger, taller, louder, rougher than the people are back East. His wildness stirred something in me. He signed in and I buzzed the CEO to say there was a visitor from the Colorado branch. I watched him go back to the CEO's office. He walked like a broken cowboy.

On his way out he asked me if I knew about a good place to get a drink. I did not, but I said I did. I'm no fool. If I had said no, I would never have seen him again.

In my junky little car after work, I drove us in the direction of the nearest town. The big hotel would have a bar. I pulled into the lot and he laughed and said this was where he was staying; his things were in a room upstairs. In a not-unkind voice, he said he had been hoping to see something different than where he had already been, but he guessed this was alright for now.

After four long letters from me and three from him and seven long-distance phone calls no shorter than one hour each, he invited me out here to drive around with him in his truck and sleep in his trailer while he photographed dramatic natural landscapes. My mother would have said it was shameful because he and I aren't married or even engaged. But that is the very goal I am working toward.

The CEO said he couldn't guarantee my job would still be there if I were gone for more than two weeks. I said I understood and packed up the plants on my desk just in case. I thought that I would be Western, I would gamble, I would journey out like those who sought gold, fame, or home.

So here I am, and here we are, until he gets the shot. It's somehow more than I hoped it would be. I love him more each day. I remember the East as a closet. I can't imagine going back.

But often I slip. I say something foolish like, "Wouldn't this be a pretty place for us to live?" at a campsite that has a spectacular view of wild, jagged peaks. He grins and dodges the hint, reminding me that this is a trailer park, a campground. All of the houses have wheels. Your next-door neighbor could be someone new tomorrow. The view out the window by the fold-up kitchen table could be mountains one day, desert the next. And that's the beauty of it.

Of course, I like all of our neighbors, the ever-changing cast of them, and I grow attached to views and am sad to leave them. "Baby, that's what the photos are for," he says and poses me in front of the mountains.

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