In Northern California, in the gold country, in a small and charming town called Nevada City, you and I stopped into a bookstore.
Many years ago.
You would leave from there, not to return again to that place where we stood together. The place where we were together. The bookstore, the pastie shop, the warm, private patio of our cottage. The restaurants, one of which has burned since we were there. An alarming number of places where we spent time together no longer exist. Some of them are too obvious for you to miss. The rest, I haven’t mentioned. It wasn’t the place where you teased the chef about the clams, though. It was the other place.
In the bookstore, you picked up a book about spelunking. Something you said you wanted to do. In seriousness, or in jest, I don’t know. The book had a worn binding, published ages ago, with black and white pictures. It described the redundancy of lights one carries into the caves. Not one light. Not one light and a backup. Three lights into the cave. Invariably, it said. Three lights into the cave.
And then you had to leave to go spelunking into depths uncharted. Some of us have been, and been back. I think maybe I haven’t see you since. Shades, glimpses. As far as I know, you’re still down there. I hope I’m wrong.
I have always carried extra lights for you, dear. You didn’t know, I suppose. I packed them that day. It only takes one light to come out of the cave.