I’m heavier than he remembers; I’m well aware of that. It’s been seven years. He’s waiting onshore as I fly off the ferry. I’m wondering what his wife is like. We drive toward their house through pine trees a mile high, past mountains with peaks of summer snow. The car coughs to a stop, and there she is, sitting on the deck with their baby.
The baby is not that cute; I have to be honest. The wife is feeding dry seaweed to her daughter who absolutely loves it. The baby also has no pants on, no diaper, nothing. I am confused because if anything, it is more customary to go topless rather than bottomless. Actually, the baby’s garb reminds me of Winnie the Pooh. I soon learn that on this tiny island in British Columbia, children not yet potty trained roam free without diapers or pants. They pee and poo outdoors like dogs and this is a way to save the environment and money. I also learn that everyone hugs everyone here. All. The. Time. The wife greets me with a big hug and I freeze. I feel our hug is premature as we’ve just met. Meanwhile, my friend begins to massage his wife’s shoulders, and I take a seat, observing the seaweed chomping child and her squeals of delight after each piece of this snack. On her tippy-toes, the wife reaches up, revealing her toned midriff, to hang a green tapestry from the edge of the roof. My friend smiles up at her, and I turn away to watch the windy ripples of the tapestry.
Then the wife complains about her recent weight loss, how she simply forgets to eat. Man, I could break this chick like a toothpick, I chuckle to myself, eyeing the blackberry bushes in their yard. She follows my gaze, humming softly and trodding barefoot toward the fruit. I really wish she’d fart. Opening her petite, cupped hands, she offers me berries. WHAT if she’s trying to poison me?! I eat them anyway and they are delicious.
I inhale clean air, feeling that the breathing is better here. I admit to myself that I am jealous of my friend and his wife because they are in love. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in love…. In love, in lust, obsessed, fixated, addicted; I find it hard to tell the difference. I get up and approach the bush to grab a few more berries. I offer them to my friend and his wife. I ask if I can feed one to the baby as I’m sure the child could use a break from the seaweed. The happy couple grins. The ugly baby laughs. I finally crack a smile. It’s easy to be bitter. It’s a lot harder to be happy. ❏
Patty Bamford works at the Met School in Rhode Island, where students pursue their passions, and she is returning to hers through humor writing.