I don’t remember much from the drive to Pigeon Forge, other than stopping to have sex in a Wal*Mart parking lot and the CDs. He put on Modest Mouse. Flipped through several tracks and changed it. The Mountain Goats. And then again. The National. He ejected the CD. Then he picked up the entire case of CDs, rolled down the window, and threw them out of the car. He looked over at me, irritated, daring me to make a remark, to which I just raised an eyebrow and looked back down at my book.
Pigeon Forge is a destination vacation for people with no taste. It’s made up of gimmicky restaurants, a Starbucks, and a movie theater off of one long stretch of highway. One direction takes you to Dollywood, the other into the Smoky Mountains. His parents owned a cabin there, and we were grad students, so this was vacation.
We spent the first days at the cabin doing nothing. He spent a lot of time watching basketball or playing FIFA on his Playstation. I pouted and made a big production of going to sit outside, alone.
“I can tell that you’re fucking annoyed right now.” he lashed out at me.
“I didn’t say that,” I retorted.
“Exactly,” he muttered.
Three days into our trip, we went for a hike.
“Let’s go off the trail here,” he said. “We’ll just walk down to the river so we’ll be able to easily find our way back.”
“Fine,” I said, stepping into the damp underbrush, my silver sandals and red toenails feeling inappropriate, unprepared.
We sat down on a large rock overlooking the river. The current was strong, pummeling large rocks on its way down the mountain.
That spring we’d said “I love you” for the first time. I recorded it in my journal: He told me that he thought we’d been in love for a little while but within the past week, he just knew he wanted to tell me....I feel so incredibly happy telling him that I love him because I really do.
I laid down on the rock’s surface. He laid on top of me, pinning me down and kissed me, aggressively, angrily. Neither of us wanted to acknowledge that we weren’t having all that much fun.
A rustling sound behind us. He stood up quietly and held his hand back to indicate that I shouldn’t move. “Shit,” he said quietly, “That’s a baby bear, which means there’s a momma not far behind. Just....stay here and be quiet,” he said. “I’m going to try to scare it off.”
He started clapping his hands and making a whooping sound in the bear’s direction. I inched closer to the edge of the rock, realizing I’d sooner take my chances jumping in and being battered by rocks, drowned by the current. I can’t believe I have another 4 days in Pigeon Forge.