Around the Bend

By Marcia Aldrich

As my husband and I were walking on a beach in Port Ludlow, a place we were visiting for the first time and just following our instincts about where to go, we reached what appeared to be the end of the sandy stretch of beach at which point he asked should we turn around, a familiar question, predictable even, what he says when he and I have reached an end whether it be a trail, a beach, a road in the woods or the end of a bad fight and just as familiarly I asked, what’s around the bend because I never want to turn around and go back, returning doesn’t call me, I want to go ahead to see what’s there even if it’s something difficult like jagged rocks or crashing waves that would make walking further arduous, after all the bright sand could fall away into black rock that could slice open my foot in a flash or we could be walking down a quiet country road lined with blackberries and queen anne’s lace and then turn with the bend and find a house on fire or someone shooting a dog or slapping their girlfriend or a neglected orchard, gnarled, charred and nothing green with nary an apple in sight, but I never think tragedy is up ahead, no, I think maybe there will be surprise, a prettier beach than the one I’m on with a view of the mountains suddenly exposed, sea otters lolling about near the water’s edge, a woman in a kayak paddling to shore in a white dress and waving to me as if she knows me, a single solitary blue heron hunched over in the shallows, with feathers like wet velvet, a dusty blue tinged with grey who cranks his head towards me and then lifts off into the air in one long exclamation point of a body.

Marcia Aldrich is the author of the free memoir Girl Rearing, published by W.W. Norton, and of Companion to an Untold Story, which won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction; she is the editor of Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women, published by the University of Georgia Press (with teachers’ guide here), and has been the editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.

Photo by Rose Portillo.

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