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Suzanne Roberts is the author of Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, as well as four poetry collections. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Rumpus, The Normal School, River Teeth, and National Geographic’s Traveler. She teaches creative writing for the low-residency MFA program at SNC-Tahoe and serves as the current El Dorado County Poet Laureate.

The Offer of a Two-Night Stand, When Just One Would Do

Illustration by Courtney Kuebler

Suzanne Roberts | Longreads | Month 2019 | 18 minutes (4,525 words)

“I crossed the ocean and then the island for you,” Sancho said when he found me at the bar in Rincon, his white teeth shining like the keys of a piano. His small blue backpack was slung over his shoulder. He pushed back his long dread-locks and kissed me. “And it wasn’t easy,” he continued. “I had to take the ferry and then the wah-wah, and finally hitch a ride to Rincon. So here I am.”

“Here you are,” I said and smiled. We stood on the deck of the small noisy bar. The band had just taken a break, and my friend Tracy was inside talking to the guitarist.

“You called me, and I knew I had to come,” he added.

“How did you know I’d be at the Tamboo bar?” I asked.

“I knew,” he said and smiled. “This is the place to be.”

“And I’m always in the place to be,” I joked.

“You are,” he said with a seriousness that made me laugh harder.

I felt giddy at the idea of a man crossing an ocean and then an island for me, even as small as Puerto Rico was. We walked from the deck and into the sand, and under the palms watched the waves roll, crash, foam, and retreat onto the beach. I carried my sandals. The night filled with the sounds of crickets and coquis, the tiny singing frogs, and the smells of salt and the sweet decay of seaweed. Each wave shined blue-green, the crashing causing the bioluminescence, the same flash we’d seen while kayaking in the bay a few days earlier in the “Bio Bay” of Vieques.A blue-green glow zippered across the sand with each wave, the foam a patchwork of neon.

That’s when Sancho kissed me, and his broad mouth and soft lips took me by surprise, even though I’d been waiting two days, or maybe my lifetime, for a kiss to happen like that, on the edge of an island, between two palms, under a sky canvassed with stars. My toes splayed out onto the sand, the ground below me, shifting.
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Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Suzanne Roberts| Almost Somewhere | University of Nebraska Press | September 2012 | 36 minutes (7,365 words)

 

Day 1

Summer’s 3 Percent

Whitney Portal (8,360) to Outpost Camp (10,080) 3.8 miles

 

Going on twenty-three, I fancied myself a naturalist, thought I knew about the wilderness, about wildness, because I had been an avid reader of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau. I enjoyed reading about Muir’s exciting climb into a giant Douglas spruce during a torrential windstorm. I liked to imagine a young bearded Muir climbing into the treetops, wind whipped like a kite.

Once on the trail, however, I had my doubts.

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