38 – An Ordinary Day

When on a seemingly routine day Grissom unexpectedly shows up in Costa Rica, Sara is reminded that some of the most extraordinary events in life often happen on days that begin in the most ordinary of ways.

A companion piece to “Postscript.”

Takes place during and post episode 910, “One to Go,” circa mid-December 2008

*******


It was an ordinary day. Or at least it began as one. But then most days that end up being extraordinary begin that way – just like any other day.

We spend so much of our lives waiting for something extraordinary to happen, when the truth is extraordinary things occur more often than we think. We just don’t realize it at the time.

There hadn’t been anything particularly remarkable about the day we first met. It was going to be just another seminar at just another conference that I wasn’t really looking all that forward to attending, as at the time, I would have preferred to have been out in the field rather than forced to go fulfill some state mandated continuing education requirement.

The day you called to ask me to come to Vegas for a week or so to help with an investigation that you wanted handled in house began just like any other day, too.

And while the events that led up to that first kiss between us were anything but ordinary, that day had been almost boringly so up until the moment you knocked on my door. That evening when you first told me you loved me had followed a day that had sadly been far too typical and there had been nothing to foreshadow that the afternoon with you and the bees would be different than any of the ones that had came before.

So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that the day you showed up unannounced and certainly unexpected at camp had been almost perfectly commonplace.

For it was an ordinary day. Well as ordinary a day as there was to be found in the rainforest. Up before light in attempt to beat the coming heat; the humidity already intense as it always was in the cooler parts of the day. A breakfast of beans and rice served up on enamel plates. Then most of the research team rushing off to the village for the Saturday market run for the following week’s supplies. I probably should have known that something was different that day, as Ana was so adamant that I should remain behind, which was certainly unusual, as it was customary for the newest addition to the team to be the one to go. But she insisted I stay back with Stephen to check the traps on plot twelve before finishing up the cataloguing that we hadn’t had a chance to complete during the week. So I did, and the two of us were back by noon, hurriedly washed (as the water in the solar shower seldom was ever warmer than body temperature) and changed out of our muddy and sweaty field clothes. It was pretty much just the usual motions, which after having been there for a several weeks had become almost routine.

We had been in the middle of sorting the morning’s collection when the swoosh of leaves and burst of chatter alerted us to the return of the camp’s resident capuchin monkey. Usually, it is strange to see just one of them at a time, as they typically like to travel in troops, but this particular one seemed to have decided to adopt us and managed to get into no end of mischief when he would come around. Someone had christened him George because he was so curious. Of course we were all just as curious about him, particularly Bridget, as her thesis was on primate behavior, but as she was in town with the others, I grabbed the camera to document his latest antics for her. That day, he was for once, seemingly innocently preoccupied with foraging in a tree (which was a lot better than him trying to steal our socks).

I remember there had been the click of the shutter once, twice and then suddenly a sound I would have known anywhere, but not one I expected to hear out there in the forest. And honestly, it was something I feared I would never hear again.

I turned at that long exhale of breath.

To find you there.

At first, I know I must have just stood there and probably gaped at you like an idiot for I have no idea how long, unsure if the sight of you standing there before me was just a mirage. But then I had never heard anyone ever mentioning there being mirages in the rainforest – hallucinations brought on by heat exhaustion perhaps, but no mirages. But then my wishful thinking could have so easily just imagined you there.

Although I doubt I would have decked you out in that hat, if it had all been up to my imagination. I know it’s your favorite, that silly straw hat of yours and that you’ve had it forever (it looks it). Perhaps that fact just might explain how something that at first looks so absurd really does suit you in the end.

Despite the hat, you looked a little sunburned and more than a little hot and sweaty, even with several more buttons than your normal top one undone. And while there was a hint of fatigue about your eyes and a little more grey in your beard (which I was glad to see that you decided to keep, as it has always looked good on you), warmth and light and life shone back at me, replacing that lost look you couldn’t seem to shed the last time we had been alone together.

As I continued to search your eyes and then your face, I would have said, if I hadn’t known from previous experience the unlikelihood of it, that you looked nervous – almost shy. I couldn’t recall then, or even now, you ever looking that nervous – or shy for that matter – in all the years I had known you. But I could have sworn you did that day, for that half smile you offered me lacked the confidence it usually carried.

At that unaccustomed display of bashfulness, I found I couldn’t help but give in to the grin that was tugging at my cheeks. However, it was a lot harder to keep from crying. I felt my lips begin to tremble, but I didn’t want to be some silly girl who cried the first moment she saw you.

Otherwise, I couldn’t seem to say or do anything else, to really move or even breathe, until you stepped forward and reached out for me. Your hands were suddenly so very warm and so very real against my skin, and your lips even more so upon mine.

There really are some times in life when breathing is highly overrated.

Then there was just the gentle pressure of you holding me tight, the heat of your breath, then the press of your mouth on my cheek and the brush of your beard.

And the trying hard not to cry had become even harder.

For feeling in that moment what it was like to have you so real and alive and there back beside me again, I couldn’t imagine how I ever could have believed that it had been better for us – for me – to tell you it was okay for you to go if that was what you had really wanted.

The truth is, I had never stopped hoping. No matter what I had tried to tell myself – and you – about it all being better this way, I never did stop hoping that someday we could be together again.

For a long time, we simply held each other, you and I, before we both retreated a little. I to remove your hat and then having wanted my hands free so I could do more than just look, I turned and bent to place it and the camera I had still been holding, down on one of the nearby supply cases. I had been relieved to notice that when I straightened up, you had exchanged that initial almost awkward smile that you had been giving me for one of those tender, private ones I loved so well and had missed for far too long.

Although even with you that near again, I still couldn’t quite believe you were real – that the last several minutes hadn’t been some hallucination brought on by undiagnosed heat stroke. That you were indeed real, that all of it was real.

I reached up and slid my hand over your cheek. My thumb once again traced what had become its familiar path along the bare skin there. Your eyes closed at the contact and you leaned forward to rest your forehead against mine for a moment before you covered my hand with yours, inclined your head and pressed a long lingering kiss into my palm.

At that, I did cry. But I no longer cared.

I wanted nothing more than to hold you, hold you and keep you close and not let go. So I did, and then in finding myself being held by you in that same way, that it seemed as if you were the only real thing in all the world.

And at that moment, you were.

And while I know that life is never perfect, and never will be, I know, too, that there are within minutes and hours and days, moments of perfection to be found, moments where the whole rest of the world stops, and you can just be, and that more often than not, those times enliven the most ordinary of days and often begin in the most ordinary of ways.

Perhaps that is what ultimately makes them so extraordinary.

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