I washed out a coffee cup in the bathroom sink, filled it with wine and scribbled about having tried and failed to make the room more human by turning on the television. Then something more about how heavily it smelled of bleach and damp towels. I told her I was half the person I was a year ago, “broken or at least very badly stripped.” We slept fully dressed, I pleaded that she at least take off her shoes, but she refused.

We left in the morning like the room was sinking, headed south towards Mendocino. Breakfast was good, I drank an Americano and watched her sip the froth off an apple cider. She went to work perfecting her design.

We drove a block and a half more to the Macallum house, where the receptionist slighted us for the benefit of an older couple. So we wandered from room to room, failing to find fault in the authenticity of the place. Even the slight gave signal to its authenticity. The receptionist eventually gave us a map with directions to the cypress grove, after warning us that a ceremony here would cost $1750 just for set up and breakdown. We found the grove and photographed it. As we were leaving, a mother asked us to take a picture of her and her baby, I took two.

The headlands were beautiful. I walked out on a narrow bluff to drink it in, and it evaded me. I could see the flame, but feel no heat. We drove north again, and then down and underneath a bridge we had crossed in the morning. I photographed it while she stayed in the car and tried again to simplify Victorian architecture. Anesthetized, I stood beneath the bridge, bent over backwards for a unique perspective, jumped over the creek where it was thin and then crossed it from rock to rock where it was wide.

We stopped two more times before we drove home. We ate soup as she tried desperately to finish her project and I looked back through my pictures.

I asked her to seduce me when she came to bed and then fell asleep almost immediately. At three thirty in the morning she woke me up, not wanting to tell me how late it was. When I woke up again it was ten, three hours after she had left for the city.

My patient companion.

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