When we walked into the inn, Jack had to duck through the doorway. We stood in a large kitchen that looked like it was functional a hundred years ago. The cast iron stove loomed in the corner, and I dropped my keys on one of the long countertops. “Follow me,” he said.
We walked through winding hallways, into a formal dining room. The places at each white-clothed table were set. We were coming from dinner at a Thai place where Jack spoke Thai to the waitress. He seemed proud of this, and talked endlessly about his travels through Thailand last winter. Through the dining room there was a second sequence of twisting halls, lined by small windows looking out onto the invisible street below. This was North Conway, a mountain town at the edge of the Whites, not a place for pedestrians or the faint of heart. I suppose being here made both of us tough. “How did you get a room here?” I asked.
We arrived at Jack’s room. He told me how he’d been looking for apartments in the area, and this room in a closed inn was the only one available. The owner let him choose his room, from the twenty or so in the house. When he asked me if I wanted to go back to his place after dinner, I hadn’t imagined much. I think that I knew what I wanted that night was an adrenaline rush or some adventure, but I didn’t know exactly how I would get it. The bed looked like the most comfortable thing in the room so naturally we sat int he two stuffy chairs at the end of it. Jack turned on the T.V. and handed me a beer. He asked me questions and I probably flirted a little bit. I crossed my legs up under me and flipped my hair. Sipping at the beer meagerly, I hoped he’d believe I was drunk even though I was not.
We were on the verge of what could only be sex, and that was exactly what I wanted, falling in with a disappearing man. I wanted to believe men were users and I was a user as well. I wanted to believe in disconnection and the dissociative body. As he kissed me I felt myself melting away. Who was I anyway? Someone defined by other people. I was nearly somewhere else, and moving fast. I believed in Jack’s story but didn’t know my own. He’d be in Georgia tomorrow afternoon. I didn’t know who or where I’d be. New Hampshire wasn’t behaving at all like when I’d left her. Or was it me who’d changed?
Jack shrugged on a sweater and his boxers to walk me outside to my car. The autumn night of the mountains was cool, and I sensed the surrounding trees protecting me for the first time in many months.