I put away my laptop and gathered up my power cord. Shelly walked outside and was wrapping herself in a scarf and gloves while I got all my shit together. The power cord, of course, was not being cooperative and so I ended up jamming it into a pocket and hurriedly grabbing my jacket, throwing on a one sleeve while leaving the rest of the coat dangling as I walked to the door.
What was my rush? Why was I hurrying? In a more honest moment I would say that my heart had been broken for the first time in any sort of recent memory and I perhaps was hoping for some respite from my own thoughts. I found memories of the girl everywhere I looked, like ghosts haunting me as I walked around town, and maybe Shelly was a means to exorcise some of them. In my more typical bravo-laden moments I would merely dismiss such questions as self-explanatory given the way Shelly had approached me.
They say the best liars actually convince themselves of their own prevarications. The physiological process of the brain would function identically if one were recalling an entirely contrived story as if one were tapping into an actual memory. Moreover, the more one told a particular lie, the more solid the synaptic connection would be, thus cementing a memory out of a fabrication. Despite all of this, I couldn’t convince myself of any truth other than the actual one. Shelly offered the potential of a momentary lapse of pain in what had been dark days.
And there is a dark days arc coming in which I will gladly recount for you the ways in which a man tries to pry himself from the grim clamps of melancholy, but once again, I defer to a later time.
For now, I happily joined in step with Shelly on the short walk to Easy Street. We chatted a bit about the town and where she lived and I pointed out to her where I lived and then we descended the steps to bar area below the restaurant. They had a fire blazing inside and there were a few scattered families, mostly looking like people in town on holiday for the snow and the ski.
Once the season starts to kick in crowds grow and change. The laid back local vibe is supplanted with a boisterous gathering of people in town to hit the slopes. They ski and snowboard all day and then imbibe heavily at local watering holes. Easy Street isn’t as bad in terms of the noisy post-ski crowd, but it certainly had become louder over the last few weeks.
We found a place along the window that looked out to the patio. Snow storms had shut down any outdoor dining in most places but it was still nice to look out onto the patio and watch the fat snowflakes fall.
The waitress came around, a cute girl I had chatted up in the past, to take our order. She somehow remembered my name and I remembered her’s was Heidi, although we’d spoken only twice before. She commented on not seeing me for a while and I asked if she were still crashing with friends or had found a place. It’s odd how some details wedge themselves in folds of gray matter.
Shelly ordered a glass of red wine and I almost fell in line with her before succumbing to my desire for a stiff whiskey with one ice-cube. Cold days with snow and nothing really to do lend themselves to whiskey more than wine.
Right before Heidi returned with our drinks, Shelly gave me a mischievous look with a Cheshire cat grin blossoming across her lovely face. It evolved into smirk of sorts before she said anything.
“So why is Jackson Panic here in Park City?”
I paused and studied her visage before attempting to answer but right as my lips parted to speak, she expounded upon her initial inquiry.
“Allow me to rephrase – most people come to a town like this to get to the slopes but you don’t appear to me a man too concerned with snow sports. So, if you didn’t arrive here because you wanted to come to a ski town, what was it you were trying to get away from?”
It was a pointed question from someone who barely knew me. I had been kicking around a lot of different things when I decided to move from LA to Park City but hadn’t really considered whether any one of them were something I was running from. Was I trying to get away from something? Or someone?