For Meera

· LeBron

· Purple

· Portland, Maine

When I told Jon I wanted to go to Portland, I didn’t think to specify that I wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest and I was paying for it. We were in the heart of neo-liberal New England surrounded by weird people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Jon had a strange obsession with lighthouses, stemming from when he was a kid, so he heard Portland, his excitement and apparently his attention as well, completely went off the rails as he likely envisioned being able to be up close and personal with one of his obsessions.

“Paisley, hurry up!” Jon yelled.

He was about one hundred feet in front of me, waving animatedly for me to catch up. He’d dragged me all over the darn Portland and Cape Elizabeth area all day and his excitement had yet to wane. I had no idea what he found so captivating about apparatuses that were likely erected to help the ships that brought many of our ancestors over against their will successfully find ports. This lighthouse toward which we were currently walking was the last one, though, thankfully. We were in Bug Light Park, walking toward the South Portland Breakwater Light. It looked a little shoddy to me, but Jon said I was being judgmental and unappreciative of history.

In all honesty, this trip was a general representation of our relationship. I said things, Jon claimed to listen, but then provided nothing that was anything near what I’d asked for. It was an ongoing cycle of sameness for the past three years that neither of us had sought to break. Despite the hiccup in communication, I had to admit I was having a good time. I would never tell Jon, but learning the history behind some of the sites we’d visited had been interesting. I tightened the purple zip-up hoodie I’d purchased from one of the chintzy souvenir shops and hurried my steps to catch up with Jon.

“This is the last one, right?” I sighed, perfectly playing the role of exasperated girlfriend.

“Yes, babe. I promise. We have that dinner res in a couple hours, so the torture is over,” Jon laughed.

“And you’re buying me the biggest lobster I can eat?” I asked, perking up knowing the end of this journey was near.

“That was the agreement,” Jon said, wrapping his arm around my waist, “But first…onward we go!”

There was only a jagged, rocky path between me and a delicious lobster dinner, so I sucked it up and followed along as Jon carefully traversed the rocks so we could walked right up on Bug Light and take in the views of the Atlantic from the small paved area that surrounded it. Nothing ever made me feel as small as the ocean and as Jon and I stood there in silence, I closed my eyes, inhaling the salty air, feeling the mist of the water spritzing my face. Jon exhaled loudly, before adjusting his stance and blockading me between the exit and the fence that separated us from the ocean.

“Thanks babe,” he whispered, pressing a quick kiss to my ear, “I know I messed this up, but you’re being a trooper about it.”

I said nothing in return, simply melted deeper into his embrace.

Our peace was soon interrupted by a large family who were making their way up the rocks toward Bug Light. Since space around the lighthouse was scant, Jon and I turned to leave.

“So we have two choices, we can either walk back to our BNB or take a Lyft,” Jon said.

“How far is the walk?”

“About a mile and a half.”

I double tapped my Apple Watch to see how many steps I’d taken for the day. I didn’t feel fatigued, but sometimes it came up on me out of the blue and it was better to figure out where I was for the day and make the judgment now, rather than get halfway through the walk and have my legs give out. I was at just over seventeen thousand steps for the day.

“Let’s Lyft, honey.”

“Already called one, it should be here in about a minute,” Jon replied, grinning.

We got into the Lyft and I knew immediately that I would be annoyed by the driver because he immediately changed the music that was playing from a nice soft rock station to the local hip-hop station. I hated when these rideshare drivers profiled me based on appearance. How did he know I wanted to hear whatever nonsense this was playing on the radio over the nice Christopher Cross jam he’d changed from? I rolled my eyes on a sigh and Jon patted my thigh, a silent signal for me to be easy. When the way too chatty driver found out we were from Chicago, he asked the question I hated to be asked most.

“So, my man, who do you think is the greatest—Jordan or LeBron?”

“I’m not really into basketball, man,” Jon laughed, with a wicked gleam, “I can’t answer that question. Babe, what do you think?”

“I think the question is stupid. They are two different types of players, playing in two different times of leagues, with two different skill sets. You can’t simply put numbers up next to each other and think that you can actually define who is the best based on that. There are a number of different factors that come into play and I’m so tired of people acting like two men who are the best at what they do can’t both be the best in their own eras. It’s simplistic and dismissive of all of the hard work they’ve put into actually becoming the best.”

The Lyft driver sputtered a bit before replying, “Ah yes, I see.”

That shut him up for the rest of the ride, which was exactly why Jon had sicced me on him. We both hated overly familiar drivers and usually traded off on trying to get them to shut up and drive. Jon and I created a game that we called Shut Down that had an elaborate scoring system. Some called it rude, but we called it being direct. We never disrespected the drivers, but the competition to see who could get them to quiet the quickest appealed to the competitive streak in both of us.

They really needed to build in an option on these apps where you could check off whether or not you wanted to engage in stupid small talk. I guarantee that there would be way high tips and rating if one had that option and the driver actually paid attention to your preferences. Soon we were pulling up to our home for the weekend, a quaint little home in South Portland with a red door. We exited the car on a rushed, “have a good night” before breaking down in laughter while trying to open the persnickety front door of our place.

“Babe, did you have to go in on him like that?”

“You know how I feel about that stupid GOAT conversation.”

“That I do. Congrats, you’re officially on the board tonight. Three points.”

I grinned; he’d given me the highest number of points.

Nicole Falls