He’s done with this place. The fickle weather. The giant smallness of it. Everywhere he goes, it seems, there’s a requisite hug, a wave, the soul-crushing exchange of standardized pleasantries. “Fuck the weather, and no, I’m not doing good.” Anonymity. Please. Sure, the tall trees and the clear water and the dark, starry nights, he likes those. But it’s not enough. The same club, the same bar, the same scene, the same ridiculously busy coffee shop.

She loves it here. The quiet. The slowness. The goodness. If they ever had children, they would be safe here, she thinks. No, she knows. She sees them, little ones, all but five or six, walking home from school by themselves. No threat of traffic or strangers. Strangers. Where are they? Everyone is a friend, or could be. People smile, almost out of habit, their eyes belying curiosity and welcome.

He yearns for the shows and the celebrity, the street food, the dark alleys, the malcontent. Feeling good about honking at a shitty driver. Flip the bird. Scream glorious expletives. Free to yell at the world. Because it’s not perfect, and people trying to make it so fight futility. Worse is to pretend. Blissfully unaware, smiling like everything is okay. That the world isn’t falling apart right before our very eyes.

She loves how far away they are from everything. Humanity’s atrocities and evils somehow invisible, hidden. She eats local. Saving money. Free of the rat race, the want for that new car, the fancy house, safe from the slippery rungs of social ascension. She fits with how she feels. And it’s so good.

He has to leave. It’s not for him. Too incestuous. Everywhere eyes that will see his mistakes. Nowhere to hide.

She has to stay. It’s from her dreams. A community that accepts and nurtures. The beautiful world at her doorstep. Exquisitely exposed.

Photo: Bryce Duffy/Shambhala Music Festival