Trips You Didn't Take


Walking at Fryman Canyon, a guy and girl behind me.  He's telling her about a crazy ex-girlfriend.  "She got all pissed at me because I wouldn't leave school to go to Guatemala with her."  He describes this girl showing up in a car, packed, wanting him to just leave.  He describes himself refusing, and her pitching a fit.  He then goes on to detail just how crazy this bitch was.  "You know what she'd do for money?  She'd go up to Oregon, by the border with Canada?  And she'd hang out with this group called Rainbow, and what they do is count fish.  Like when salmon and trout come upstream.  They'd count them.  And like, help them out when they got stuck and stuff."  As he describes this, as I hear him go into greater detail, I can hear admiration creeping into his voice.  I know that he had to have paid some real attention to have remembered with this clarity.  And I'm not wrong, because the next thing he says, in a kind of slow, wondering admission, is "She was really cool."  And I can feel the fondness, I can see now why she showed up at his dorm with that car packed, saying, "Let's go to Guatemala."  Because some part of him wanted to.  Some part of him thought that she was awesome and the way she was living admirable.  And he did the reasonable thing and passed it up, and learned to tell its story so that hearers would absolve him.  "Wow," they say.  "She expected you to go to Guatemala?"  And he lives in LA now, walking Fryman Canyon with LA girls, like this one, like the one he's now hastening to assuage that the Guatemalan fish-counter is like total ancient history.  "She was crazy," he says, and then repeats it, and then I can't hear them anymore.  
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