Friday afternoon. Hiking with Amanda. A beautiful spring day in the mountains. Conversations as I remember them…
“We’ll take a different trail than we’ve done before,” Amanda said. “We’ll go the opposite way around. It’s a little more rugged, but you’re up for it.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She knows the territory, so it makes sense for her to lead. But I know she would lead in any set of circumstances. And in any set of circumstances, I would follow. It’s who we are.
She’s already told me this will be pure hiking, no slave play today. That makes me happy and sad at the same time.
She did leg stretches at the trail head, angling her body against the oak fencepost. “Feels good to be outside like this after such a long week,” she said. I sensed her releasing herself into the freedom of the mountain.
She looked amazing in a pair of khaki capri hiking pants and a plaid shirt pulled above her midriff, tied in a bow in front.
“It was a hard week for you,” I said. I was pretending to do some stretches as if I understood what they were.
“Yes. It was hard.”
“I was a disruption on Tuesday.”
“No. That was a day that disrupted you not me. I hardly knew you were there,” she said. “I had other matters that made it a hard week.”
“Let’s not talk about work. Sorry I brought it up,” she said, “This is too beautiful a day.”
“Thanks for not using the rubber bands,” I said as we were hiking.
“You hate them?”
“Yes. They make my nipples sore for two days after.”
“That make you think of me?”
“Yes. A painful reminder of you.”
“OK. I’ll use them again, sometime,” Amanda said with a smile in her voice.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
We hiked but also stopped frequently to look at the views. “Do you think you could live anywhere else?” she asked, looking across the valley from our ridge.
“I’ve always thought either mountains or ocean were good for my soul. I could do either one maybe. I guess parts of California have both. But I love Colorado.”
“When you lived in Pennsylvania, did you get to the ocean much?”
“We were a half day away from Atlantic City.” I answered. “Daddy preferred Ocean City, a little bit south. He would take us there sometimes on long weekends. He’d take Friday afternoon off, and we’d get there by dinner time. We’d spend all day on the beach Saturday. And again Sunday morning. I remember there was a place we’d get macaroons on the boardwalk. We’d drive back Sunday afternoon sunburned and exhausted.”
“And you loved that.”
“Even when I was young, I actually loved the ocean at twilight more than the hot sun and sand during the day. The waves against the sunset. Mesmerizing. Soul-speaking.”
“And this?” she asked. We both looked over a landscape of foothills and valleys and more mountains to the west, and our town below us to the east.
“This is spectacular,” I said. “The thing about the mountains is that every view is different. The ocean is a regular rhythm, beautiful and soothing in its way, but it has a sameness. Both are peaceful for the soul, but the mountains are always projecting a different show.”
We fell into silence.
“I don’t know where you grew up,” I said. “Actually, I know nothing about you.”
“Shae, you know everything about me. Everything that matters… Careful, there’s a dip around the curve here.”
“I grew up in Chicago. Suburbs. New Trier East high school. DePaul University, then graduate program, MBA. But none of that matters.”
“You are very accomplished.”
“I haven’t accomplished anything,” she said. “I’m not sure it matters.”
“You talk a lot about soul,” she said later as we hiked.
“That’s my spiritual side.”
“I don’t think about that much.”
“Most people don’t,” I said.
“I think I should. More anyway. I know it’s not religion. It’s something else.”
”For me, all this nature spread out before us is spiritual. It speaks to my soul.”
Amanda nodded. “I wish I understood what that was.”
We stopped again to sit on a flat rock to the side of our path. Amanda pulled out a water and a Kind bar, handed them to me.
“You never write about us,” she said.
I took a moment to figure out what she was saying. Then: “I always write about us.”
“I mean sexually.”
“I wrote about the first time you had me bathe you.”
“Yes. I thought that was beautiful. But that wasn’t sex.”
“Well, it was for me,” I said. “I was awestruck. Maybe for you it was just another spa session with one of your minions on a Tuesday. But for me it was something else.”
A wry smile spreads across her face. She points beyond the ridge to a valley in the distance, but I know she is savoring my words.
“It was my way,” she said, “of introducing myself to my minion.”
Standing beside her, I look far off to the valley. “Well, you made quite the impression.”
“Awestruck is nice,” she said.
“I need to know something,” I said. “Do you have another minion?”
She paused, and I started freaking out that my cute-clever question was about to backfire. Oh no,
“I have,” she said, “just one minion. And she’s the only minion I want.”
One time she popped out with this: “You have the capacity to have mental sex somehow. As if you don’t get enough for real.”
I looked her totally puzzled. “I’m not even sure what that means.”
She added, “I’m envious.”
“Of the mental part or the real part?”
“The mental part.”
You’re saying it’s good to be me?” I asked with a laugh.
“I’m saying, girlfriend, you have orgasms in your head.”
“There are other parts of my body that would debate that,” I say.
“I know. I’ve been there, remember?”
I smile. “Yes, you have.”
“It’s just something I observe. You have a rich, sensual inner life. It oozes out of you. Actually, not just me. Everyone sees it. It’s in you coming out and you don’t even know it.”
I said, “I don’t know if I want everyone to see me oozing.”
Sometime later she said, “But you don’t write about us now.”
I knew what she meant. “It’s too special,” I said.
She was silent. Later: “Yes, It is.”
We’ve rounded the north side of the mountain. “So was the day in the office real hard on you?” she asked me.
“I knew it would be.”
“I knew you knew,” I said. “Thanks for dressing me as you did. Made it easier.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied.
A couple walked toward us. We stood aside, letting them pass, and said hi. I’m grateful to be wearing all my clothes this time. We kept walking.
Later, I said, ““Your colleagues are good people.”
“They are, aren’t they.”
“I’m just a confounding reality for them.”
“Yes, you are. But you have to allow them their time to deal with what confounds them.”
“So, I confound them too. But I can control the conversation. You can’t.”
“I’m realizing that.”
We reached the summit of the peak we’re on. It’s not much of a mountain in Colorado terms, but it’s the mountain we have and all we can handle.
The vista was, again, breath-taking. We stood together in silence. Amanda took my hand in hers.
“Somehow I still think you could write about us,” she said again.
“You would like me to?”
“I would never tell you what to write.”
“But you would like me to,” I said.
We started down, but we were in no hurry. Another break when we reached another outlook.
“I need to ask you a question,” Amanda said.
“Purely hypothetical. But, if I were to decide to move…” her voice trailed off. “Would you come with me?”
“You two own me. Of course, I would come with you and Master K wherever you two decided to move. I assume that’s how it works.”
“That’s not what I’m asking,” Amanda said quietly. She stopped, got silent.
She tried again: “If it were just me moving. If Kevin stayed here. It’s just hypothetical.”
“Oh.” I was speechless. That was a future that never occurred to me. What if they split? But then she said it was hypothetical. What was this about really?
I told her I assumed she and Master K would have to work things out between them about me, figure out whom I should be with. I would obey their decision. I said that too easily to her, for I know when it happened, it would be some kind of anguish for me. I didn’t like the sound of this.
“No,” she said. “Well, yes, of course. But…”
I was utterly failing to read her. Yet she didn’t sound exasperated with me, so I had to think she knew she was being cryptic.
We sat. We both knew there was something more here.
Later she tried again. “Let’s say Kevin is not in the picture. I’m not suggesting anything by that — this is all hypothetical. Let’s say you’re just with me here. This is just what if. And let’s say I somehow gave you your freedom, I didn’t own you, you weren’t my slave—”
“But I don’’t want that.”
“I know. But hypothetically, let’s say that was the case. And then, would you — Jeez, this is so ridiculous. I sound like — I wasn’t going to go here… Sorry. It’s silly. Nevermind.”
Half of what she said was to herself. I was clueless. She stood, ready to hike again and leave this behind.
I slowly replayed her words in my head. I then got it, Duh. I fully got it. I figured out what she was asking.
“Yes, Amanda,” I said. “Yes.”
She turned to me and smiled. Her face was a touch sunburned, but maybe also she was blushing a little.