7 Years and 5 Audrey Hepburns

7 Years and 5 Audrey Hepburns

Hollee brought five Audrey Hepburns back from North Carolina.

On our first afternoon together in 7 years
I nailed the Audreys to her bedroom wall while
she smoked in the corner and told me how
she drove with her son and a chihuahua from Raleigh to Austin in one day,
and how America looked like a ghost town on Christmas Eve,
with six lanes of empty highway riding in from the sea to Atlanta.

I cross the Sea of Gibraltar to her kitchen, knowing
when I open the refrigerator, I’ll find her Diet Coke cans
lined up like soldiers along the door like they were 7 years before—
because there are friendships where you can wade out for miles but
remain waist-deep in shallow water,
then there are friendships where you jump in half an inch
and suddenly you’re drowning.

Last time we were together, I flew up to Cape Fear and
we drove down to Myrtle Beach and spent 2 days in the sand sucking
in our stomachs and drinking plastic cups of
orange juice and vodka from the cooler.

I remember how I fell in the ocean and didn’t stand up,
just laid there laughing in a bed of salt water, until the lifeguard appeared
and said, “ma’am you should get back on the beach until you’re sober”
and I said, “sir, I would prefer if you not call me ma’am.”
And how, at the pier, the bland twenty-something-year-old boys
bought us beer, and when we refused to share our hotel details,
they said, “You should feel lucky that young bucks like us
pay you old hags any attention.”

And how we laughed and Irish goodbyed them,
and walked a mile back to our hotel barefoot
holding our stilettos, and how we passed out on the beach
when Hollee couldn’t find the key and woke up the next morning
with sand stuck to our crow’s feet and sun tangled in our hair,
and how I laughed and said this is a very Erin-Hollee thing to do,
to book a hotel room but wake up next to the Atlantic Ocean.
And how Hollee laughed before scrambling to the nearest
vending machine to wash away the taste of sea with her trusty bottle
of sugar-free caffeine and a lit Newport cigarette.

7 years and five Audrey Hepburns later,
I told Hollee next time she drives through Atlanta and it’s
not Christmas Eve, to stop by the coke museum, they serve
diet cokes for free with the price of admission.
“Maybe we can go together,” she suggests.
“Maybe,” I agree—because we’re not spring chickens,
but it didn’t matter. we were two old hens who had found each other,
and true friendships are rare and won’t drown you
if you know how to swim—meanwhile, anywhere in America, you can
always find six lanes of empty-headed fellas ready to buy a pretty lady a beer.

-EP, 1-15-2019
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