I hadn't been to the park in a year. At least not that part of it. Ancil Hoffman was a big place, and this was the first time since Keith and I had broken up that I had explored the paths around Effie Yeaw. I had spent some time in the more open areas, and in the picnic area, but not on the nature trails. But the rain had stopped, at least for the moment, and Aaron and I took the opportunity to explore.
It was still cold, as the beginning of March often is, but not so cold that it was impossible to go out. We wandered around for a while, then I remembered that Keith and I had sat and talked for a long time on one of the trails, on a spot overlooking the river. I couldn't remember exactly how we got there, but I remembered which direction it was, and I remembered exactly how it looked from where we sat. I asked Aaron if he wanted to see where it was, and since he didn't care and I wanted to show him, we went.
It took us a while to find the right trail. Whenever there was a fork, I took the path that led upriver. Eventually we came to the same tree I always manage to go by when I'm in that part of the park. Maybe it once stood tall, but over the years, it had bent over across the trail. Maybe I had gotten bigger, or maybe it had gone lower, but every time I go there, it seems I have to stoop a little lower. Last time Aaron and I went there, I noticed that the tree has a support now on the other side of the trail. I guess it's getting a little too low for the park people, too.
Shortly after the tree, the path gets a little narrower, and then a lot narrower, and then overgrown with a beautiful plant with deep green leaves and purple flowers. It gets a little steep, then suddenly it's at the edge of a cliff right above the river. Right after that is where Keith and I had sat and talked about everything. I could remember the view exactly. There were the bush, and the bit of tree root that we used for a footrest. Then there was a steep drop, and fifty feet down was the river, and there was a clear view of the opposite shore. The path more or less disappeared after that spot, but it was still just barely possible to get through. There was one major difference from the year before, however: the spot where we had sat and talked about our families, about our lives, about our secret wishes; the spot where I cried and he held me; the spot where we had sat at the end of our time together was washed away. That part of the trail was completely gone. The rest of the area was almost as it was a year before, but that one spot was now a hole three feet deep.
We stood a while in awe, Aaron as much so as I. We knew the floods had done it, but we couldn't understand why in that one spot and no other. It was starting to get dark, so we headed back, but we discussed it on the way. I did some quick calculations in my head, and realized that it was exactly a year later to the day of the week, then thought it over some more and remembered that it had been a Saturday instead of a Sunday, and that it was exactly a year to the date, March fifth. Keith and I had been dating for three months and a day. I don't think Keith even realized that at the time. Aaron and I paralleled that farther, since he and I had been dating for three months minus two days. I had been Keith's first girlfriend; I was Aaron's first girlfriend. The similarities were uncanny. The difference, of course, was that Aaron and I were nowhere near breaking up, and in fact, still aren't.
About halfway back to the entrance, taking the main trail this time instead of one of the side ones that we had taken out, on the ground someone had written, "Keith + Dawn." This was just too much. We knew it couldn't have been the same Keith, but it was still amazing. We couldn't say anything the rest of the way back until we got all the way to my house. Aaron went home, and then that night we talked about the cosmic connotations over the phone.
We know that it means something. We just aren't fully sure what. We pretty much decided that it signifies the end or beginning of something, but what? My heart had been broken and the spot where was now washed away, and I found it with the person with whom I was in love a year later. It became obvious to both of us that there were forces at work beyond either of our comprehension. It is easy for me to believe that there is someone or something at work a great deal more powerful than I imagined that just decided to show its face one day. It certainly made me wonder.