Swirving around the roads we pass avocado trees and farms. There are sleeping cows, wandering aimless deer. A country store that advertises the best beef jerky in town. I ask him on the ride,
“How’s your son?”
“I had a fight with Sandra. She changed her number, but the little guy is doing well. I go up and see him in Alameda when I can.”
As we drive, the sunroof and windows are down, letting a warm breeze swoop in and blow our hair around. We hold hands and don’t speak much.
Before we hopped in my car, heading to the lake, I had met him and his ex, Gina, for lunch. They exchanged I love you, I love you too before Bert and I left. We borrowed her florescent green colored raft.
At the first lookout point, I was laughing. Below us, pristine glassy blue perfection. A gigantic sprawling lake; no people, just us. And there was that warm wind again. We were only twenty minutes away from home, but here, a different land, an easy air, a
reunion. We hadn’t seen each other in months. Not in this way.
There’s a sign, 3.5 miles to the main lake entrance. We drive and laugh and hold hands and are quiet again.
As we pull up, Bert runs in to another ex and her daughter. The woman has a black rose tattoo on her thigh and her son’s hair grows long down his back. Quick hellos and goodbyes.
We find free parking off the road away from the main entrance.
There are signs everywhere, NO TRESSPASSING and we learn the lake is for drinking water, no body contact.
“How could they have a lake like this and not allow swimming?” Bert said.
“The practical answer is polluting, but I want to go in,” I said.
“Should we sneak under the gate? Here’s a little opening,” Bert said.
Bert laid a towel down underneath the gate, and I slid under to the other side, to something unknown, something new, something worthwhile.
A bright yellow butterfly flies by, fluttering, traveling, but still stopping close as if to say welcome to this place.
Then it was Bert’s turn, but there were little spikes at the end of the metal gate and they stuck, near the vertical line where ass meets lower back.
“Push the gate up,” he said struggling.
I did and he slid through, easy.
Gravel and dirt found its way into my new shoes as we worked our way down a steep cliff.
“I think the coast is clear,” Bert said.
As we came up to the water’s edge the beauty of this new place seemed like a dream, and suddenly I was feeling something very close to falling in love. There were Mallard ducks, mud and willows, white wildflowers, odd mossy sticks, and that water-more blue than the cloudless sky above us.
Bert jumped in. I felt the water with my foot and was surprised at its warmth. It had to be eighty degrees. Two people stood high above us.
“I’m going in,” I told Bert.
As I got into the water, I swam up to Bert and kissed him on the lips.
“You see those two people up there?” He said. “Do you think they can see us?”
“Could we get arrested?” I said.
We decided to change locales. Up the muddy bank we hiked and then hiked some more around the edge of the lake, looking for a new spot to lie out, swim, and try to successfully avoid being caught. It must have been a mile of walking and I felt my shoes filling up with more and more twigs, thistle, rock and mud, but it was all worth it for what was in front of us.
A bright green grassy meadow lie right in front of this section of the lake, and now there were no people. It was our lake, our little meadow, the sunshine, the wind, we were part of everything. At a long distance, we saw a white truck and figured it must be a ranger, but we laid our towels out in the middle of some foliage and Bert undid my bathing suit top.
Lying next to each other, the warm wind blew past my breasts and I wondered if my breasts would tan in this dry heat. Bert kissed me, moving his tongue inside my mouth and then we held hands and closed our eyes for a bit. A little make shift pier made up of floatation devices became a makeshift trampoline for us. I wondered if I looked old to Bert jumping up and down, topless on this pier and I wondered why I hadn’t cared about seeing two of his exes in one day. I had one possible answer, I couldn’t shake. I was falling in love with this place and this place was falling in love with me.
“Let’s go in the water again,” Bert said.
“Yes. Let’s,” I said.
Pushing through dense mud and rooted lake sticks, we finally reached a place in the water where we could both touch the bottom and fully remove our bathing suits.
Bert tied them up together on one of the water tree sticks and swam over to me. I wrapped my legs around him and felt the slip, slip, slide of our naked bodies up against each other. He slip slip slid inside of me and all at once, my legs were wrapped around him and we were breathing hard in each other’s face. The worry of the patrol truck vanished, my whole life in this one moment; perfect. I was shaking.
He finished and we stayed wrapped around each other with little waves flapping up against us, flapping like our bodies just had.
“It’s been a long time for me,” I said.
“Me too,” Bert looked down.
We start to swim to another old pier, but halfway, both of us decided we’d already polluted the drinking water and were afraid at the chance of getting caught.
Walking back to the car, satisfied soul, my skin feels electric.
“This is living,” I said.
Six female deer and one buck feed.
“There’s one buck and he’s protecting all his ladies,” Bert said.
“Lucky guy,” I said.
Back under the gate we go, into the car, and off we speed away.
“I wonder how much the fine was or how long we’d spend in jail if someone caught us?” I said.
“Hope it’s a co-ed prison so we could share the same cell,” Bert
“They don’t exist,” I said.
“Everything exists,” Joe said.
And maybe here, everything did exist. I became part of the earth, rock, gravel, deer, wind, sun, yellow butterfly, lake.
On the drive back we steal avocados from someone’s farm and see a farmer coming toward us.
“Hey, hey, hey,” the farmer said.
We hopped back into the car and sped away with what would hopefully make some good old fashioned guacamole later.
Again, we stop at the country mart store and try the advertised beef jerky along with two cans of iced tea. The jerky is spicy hot and thinly cut. We chomp and chew hunks of the stuff in front of each other, smacking and licking our lips, fiercely, as though we hadn’t eaten in days.
When we got back to Bert’s place, we felt comfortable enough to nap side by side and for a few minutes, we both dozed off. There was still left over adrenaline rushing around inside me; a butterfly party.
He started to kiss me again. We were sweating, pulsing, breathing, blushing, all over again, all over each other, and I felt the sun and warm wind hot on my skin from earlier and the gravel and thistle in my shoes and that perfect lake, more blue than the cloudless sky above.