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Call Me, I'll Be Waiting



 
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Soleil Whitaker

Montana. Colorado. Arizona.

Somewhere landlocked.

Of course, no open bodies of water.

Rhiannon’s phobia is not often spoken of, but the younger Whitaker had been hyper-conscious in choosing their new destination.  Soleil had never ventured much further west than Pennsylvania, but dreamt of Los Angeles sun, Portland downpours, arid Arizonian air, the like. The angel had appeased Soleil by spending their honeymoon in Cancun – she spent the entire week a safe distance away from the ocean’s edge. It’s undeniable that she would’ve preferred Paris, or Milan. The two women had decided, in the last few weeks, that they were due for a couple's retreat. Just the two of them; not that they didn't adore their sons to pieces, but every mother needs a day of respite. As a lesbian couple, Soleil and Rhiannon feel justified in leaving the boys in the faithful, trustworthy, capable hands of Delaney - with, of course, visits from Uncle Callum and Aunt Margot.

After a few days of intermittent debate, the women agree upon a destination: Yellowstone National Park.

It’s the perfect getaway. Views that would take their breath away, fresh air to renew their fervor for life, a few moments of isolation and refuge they so often craved. In planning this vacation, the Whitaker women had wasted an embarrassing amount of time arguing over which gas stations would be acceptable pit-stops. Never known to be picky, Soleil all but pointed at a number of random possibilities along their designated route.

“I’m not stopping there,” the angel insisted.

“Rhiannon, there’s nothing else for another 100 miles.”

“I’ll hold it, then.”

“You’ll hold it, huh?”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Rhiannon had nodded once. Her wife, of course, could only respond with laughter. There was little she could do to dissuade Rhiannon; once the woman had made a decision, that was it. Case closed. Even once on the road, they would sail on past the given gas station, just so Rhiannon could prove a point.

Although Soleil would never openly admit it, just the thought of parting ways with her sons is difficult to process. Wilson inquires about their travels, and the younger Whitaker’s heart breaks when the toddler becomes visibly upset after being informed that he would not be accompanying his mothers on this journey. To appease him, Soleil promises to return with a moose. Or, at least, a statue of one. (But, he doesn’t need to know that).

It’s early morning when the couple finally set out for their 2,100 mile journey west, and much too chilly for the Mustang’s canvas top to be down. The hum of the engine almost drowns out the lyrics of LP’s “Death Valley.”

Dying’s so rock and roll.

Stretching out into forever.

I said, I don’t know,

Could anybody even survive it?

“Ready?”

“As long as you’re by my side, always.”

Soleil reaches over to take ahold of Rhiannon’s hand, their interlaced fingers coming to settle over the center console thereafter. One last glance up at the brownstone, a kiss pressed to the back of the angel’s hand, a hushed ‘goodbye’ to the sleepy toddlers inside. 

Oh, oh, oh.

She said we’re never gonna die.

Wait, wait, wait.

May 01, 2018 12:51 am

Soleil Whitaker

Don’t waste it,

It’s only here for today.

You don’t own it

So, you can’t just give it away.

Forever, forever is only half a moment away.

The sun is rising over the horizon. The air is clean – breathable, fresh, invigorating. With the Mustang’s canvas top finally pulled back, there’s an undeniable feeling of liberation. Soleil’s dark hair lashes around her face as she steals a glance of Rhiannon, who is as beautiful as she’s ever been. Sun-kissed skin and caramel colored eyes to match, she leaves the younger Whitaker absolutely breathless. Her voice carries for miles as she sings along to yet another LP song: ‘Wasted.’

It’s a wonder that the two women are not yet sick of the singer/songwriter’s distinctively piercing voice, and haunting melodies. But, there’s no doubt that LP would always hold a special place in their hearts. That first night together, tucked away in the very back corner of Nick’s, Soleil and Rhiannon had bared their souls to one another. There, they had spent hours listening to and discussing music, picking at a bowl of stale, bar popcorn. There, Rhiannon had pressed Soleil back against the brick façade, and kissed her without hesitation or inhibition. There, the two had inadvertently, yet irrevocably fallen in love.

Long after their first night together, the couple continues to share their love for music, despite their divergent tastes. A “musician” herself, Soleil scours the underground for emerging artists: Khalid (before his big break), Majid Jordan, the Aces, Tom Misch. Her wife always appreciates the suggestions, and, every so often, becomes reasonably attached to a particular song or two. But, she insists, vehemently, that no genre will ever parallel classic rock.

 

Cleveland, OH

“Do you think they’ll have anything on Fleetwood Mac?” Rhiannon asks, particularly curious because of her namesake.

“They were inducted in ’98, babe.”

“So…”

“I would be shocked if they aren’t featured in at least one exhibit.”

To that, Rhiannon nods, and attempts to suppress a wide grin. Pulling into what seems to be the very last parking spot in the lot of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the angel’s excitement grows. She’d seen many of these bands in concert, so to bear witness to how they’d been immortalized is almost beyond her own comprehension. Walking through the glass doors sends chills down her spine, and after purchasing all-access admission tickets, she practically drags her wife into the first exhibit hall.

“I saw the Grateful Dead play at Woodstock.”

“CCR played right after, actually.”

“And when Jimi Hendrix concluded the festival, barely a fourth of the initial population were present.”

“I got high, and listened to ‘Money’ on repeat when it was first released. I was definitely in another dimension. That intro with the cash register, and the coins, and the….”

She continues on about Pink Floyd’s genius for a while.  Soleil had always been aware of her wife’s love for classic rock, but ‘Fan Girl Rhiannon’ is definitely a mode new to her. Amazed by all Rhiannon has experienced, Soleil can’t help but smile, nod, and live vicariously through the stories and anecdotes.

Oh, woah. The day has come, the day has come.

Oh, woah, We’re free to love, free to love.

And I’m ready to ride

With you. You make me alive.

 

Columbus, OH: The Columbus Zoo.

“He doesn’t need another stuffed animal, Soleil.”

“He doesn’t need 8 different juices on hand, at all times.”

“That’s not fair.”

Soleil squints at her wife, who, in response, sticks out her tongue. They banter about what to get their oldest son, having already picked out an elephant onesie (trunk and all) for Logan. When a scrawny teenager with greasy hair asks if they need assistance, both women politely decline and resume bickering. Finally, they settle for another elephant onesie because well, two is better than one.

Back on the road, Soleil reaches across the center console to tuck a strand of hair behind Rhiannon’s ear. “I love you, you know,” she says, earnestly.

“I do. And I love you. Always.”

They fall into a comfortable silence. Rhiannon’s hand rests on Soleil’s thigh as she drives because the two are rarely without physical contact.

We might pace and time chase, but there lies a place

Where all hopes and all saints collide face to face.

 

Denver, CO: The Botanic Gardens.

Rhiannon shrieks when an abnormally large butterfly lands on her shoulder. Her cheeks flush a deep, violent red when a little boy of Wilson’s age points and laughs. Quickly, Soleil grabs her wife’s hand as if to hold her back.

“That lady is scared of a butterfly!”

“Just a toddler, babe,” she whispers, guiding the already embarrassed angel away from the crowd. Rhiannon mutters, still perturbed by the size of the fluttering insect.

The York Street gardens are too beautiful for words: 24 acres of a wild diversity, a collection intended to celebrate a Western identity, and showcase the unique resilience of high altitude plants. The couple spends the afternoon strolling around lazily, getting lost in the many mazes of nature. And when their feet begin to ache from hours of being upright, Soleil sweeps Rhiannon into her arms, and carries her all the way back to the Mustang.

Rhiannon is too tired to protest about the motel’s oddly smelling pillows. But, always a gracious wife, Soleil bundles together a sweatshirt and her Patagonia jacket, and slips it carefully under the dozing angel’s head.

“Tomorrow, Yellowstone,” Rhiannon murmurs, eyes sliding shut for the final time of the night.

May 02, 2018 04:11 pm
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