On brief vacation

“You are a creature of habit,” she says. “You like to have things that you do every weekend, and lots of space.”

“True.” Being habitual is not the whole of it. It is not the repeating of specific activities but the necessity of forming them, the comfort derived from having a plan, a pattern.

“I would wake up and go on adventures, but you want to do Saturday things.” Her voice is not accusing, rather it is the joy of knowing someone’s true self. The defensiveness in his response is the shame of being so easily understood.

“We go on adventures,” it begins, “look at where we are now.”

Outside it is dark, and the gardens watched over by only stars, and the moon. Inside the fire crackles, the wine sits on the mantle, and a man and woman sing of life and love on the stereo. The ocean is audible over their voices if not visible beyond the flowers.

“This was my idea,” she points out, and it was, he had taken no time to plan, despite desire. He’d been late from work, the calm delay of the one with no knowledge of schedule, with no responsibility for check in.

“I like new things,” he tries again, almost without energy. Almost conceding. To himself he is moving on, ready to acknowledge that he likes making new habits, likes learning a new place, learning how to replicate a love of coffee, wine, and tree climbing in new locations. Removing the fear that otherwise stirs in the unknown air.

“You like to learn new things, and new places, on your own time,” she says, smiling now. “So that when others want to explore you are already comfortable.” She is finished now, happy to have explained this without wounding him.

“We should go more places, do more.” This is no great admission. It is an attempt to combat his central fear, of seeing too little. That fear makes him survey the crowd at parties and wander constantly in cities.

“We should remember to explore,” she says. “We won’t always live here, and we need to learn to remember.”

He knows this too, for years later it is not the comfort of habits that remains in mind from previous houses and days spent in routine, but the exceptions, the impetuous variation from rituals, that live on in stories and in their lives.