I snuggled down into my seat, wrapping my cashmere cardigan more firmly around my shoulders, marveling at the world that existed beyond the magical land that is New York City. And before I knew it, we were at the end of the line.
“Wow. It’s bigger than I thought it would be.”
“See now, that’s exactly what I said the first time I saw Leo naked.”
“Nice.” I slid my hand over for a low five. She slapped it, keeping her left hand on the steering wheel.
“Actually, that’s not true,” she admitted, a blush creeping into her cheeks. “I totally knew it would be big.”
I laughed. “Atta boy, Leo! Its always nice when beautiful boys are not only economically blessed, but blessed down below as well. I can’t wait to meet him and congratulate him on his big dick.”
She cackled, clapping her hand on the side of her thigh. “Yes, please say exactly that.”
“Done.” She knew I totally would. “Not that I don’t enjoy all the junk talk here, but what I actually meant was Poughkeepsie is bigger than I thought.” We’d pulled out of the station a few minutes ago, and I’d expected to be in the country almost immediately.
“Poughkeepsie is decent sized, Bailey Falls is positively minuscule. You sure you’re up to this?”
“I’m not that citified, am I?”
“Sweetie. There’s no Starbucks. No blow-dry bars. We have one cab, driven by a man named Earl, who wears glasses as thick as Coke bottles. I’m not entirely sure they’re not actual Coke bottles.”
“I’ll be fine,” I answered, settling back against the seat. “I see you’re still driving this beast.”
“It’s not a beast, it’s a Jeep Wagoneer, a classic. They literally don’t make them like this anymore.”
“That’s true, you don’t see much wood paneling these days, at least not on the outside of the car,” I replied, smoothing my hand across the side panel. My hand was resting on the window ledge, the air blowing in off the river, and with it a strange scent. “What am I smelling?”
“Country.” She grinned and turned off onto a wooded two-lane highway.
“Perfect.” I smiled back. “When’s the barn dance?”
“Barn dance. Councilman Bowman said there’d be a barn dance. I bought a petticoat.” I was confused when she burst out laughing.
“Oh sweetie,” she said, slapping her hand on the steering wheel. “He must have been teasing you, there’s no barn dance.”
“It’s not a real thing?” I asked, disappointed.
“Oh, it’s a thing; just not this weekend. But I’ll look at the calendar and see when the next one is.”
“But my petticoat,” I said, sniffing.
She just patted my hand and snickered once more.
As we drove, she began to point out landmarks, some designated as actual landmarks, and some Roxie landmarks.
“Here’s the spot where my Jeep broke down when I was in high school, and I had to walk two miles to the nearest house. Aaaand there’s the Lightning Tree, gets struck by lightning at least once every summer, but the damn thing just never gives up and falls over. And here’s the turnoff to The Tube, best swimming hole for miles.”
“A swimming hole? Explain please,” I said, not understanding. Sure, I’d watched old TV shows where people were swimming in, well, swimming holes, but that couldn’t be what she actually meant. Wait, right?
“A swimming hole. You’ve never gone to a swimming hole?”
“I once went swimming at a YMCA in the Bronx, does that count?” I asked.
“Oh honey, you’re so pretty,” she said, shaking her head at me.
“I know,” I answered promptly. “Continue.”
“Well, it’s like a pond but it’s spring-fed, and it’s always moving, not stagnant.”
“Can you see the bottom?”
“It’s not squishy and muddy?”
“A little bit, but it’s mostly just rocky.”
“That’d freak me out. Who knows what the hell might be lurking in there.” I shuddered.
“You swim in the ocean,” she said.
“Sure, but it’s the ocean. It’s not a hole in the ground.”
“You come back next summer, and I’ll take you to a swimming hole.”
“I feel like I should say thank you.”
She gave me the side-eye. “You’re the one that wanted to come up here and learn all about Bailey Falls.”
I nodded my head. “Sorry, was my Manhattan showing?”
“No, but your city snob attitude was.” She pretended to glare at me.
“Oh good, I was afraid I was losing my edge,” I replied, then dodged her smack.
“I’ll smack you properly when we get out of the car. But now, while we drive down Main Street, it’ll cause too much gossip.”
“Here we are.” She grinned and turned down a new street, heading right into town.
It truly was like a picture out of a magazine—one printed in 1935. It was darling.
The light was beginning to march west, but it was still golden. Main Street was lined with tall and full maple trees, flashing crimson and poppy. A breeze ruffled through, sending a few leaves to the ground, where they joined thousands of their cousins. Scuttling through the thousands of leaves were children, many children, all in a line holding hands with a few teachers herding at the front and back, all of them laughing and kicking through the crunch. More of that country air blew through, sending a few leaves into the street, where we rolled through them pleasantly.