"When are we going to get going?" Chris says.
"What's your hurry?" I ask.
"I just want to get going."
"There's nothing up ahead that's any better than it is right here."
-- Robert Pirsig. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The sun comes up over Luke's Diner and Jess is sitting outside getting in one last smoke before he has to go make coffee and pile doughnuts in their little glass case.
Doughnuts. That's what life has come down to. Don't forget to pile the ones with the sprinkles on top, because no one wants their sprinkles covered with icing from a doughnut on top of them.
There are things about cheese that Jess has to know. Things about meat and its rareness. Things, yes indeed, about how and where to place a ketchup bottle in relation to the A-1 steak sauce bottle and the napkins. These small, useless things that he can memorize but never attach any importance to; these things represent what he is now -- a guy who works at a small-time diner.
Jess feels a drip into his hair and looks up. Something is dripping off the windowsill above him; it looks like water, but who knows. He swears furiously and jumps up, grinding his cig into the dust with his foot and running one hand roughly through his hair. People walking to Luke's to get their morning fix look at him curiously, but since they *all* know him, they keep on walking.
"This is enough," he says to a vaguely familiar blonde woman who happens to be in the wrong place. "This is the outside of enough, and I'm getting out of this town."
"Sure you are, Jess," she says, and holds the door open for him as he readjusts the ties on his apron. "Of course."
* * *
"I dunno," says Rory. She is wearing a gorgeous turquoise shirt that is just the color of summer. It has a little sequiny thing on the shoulder. Jess doesn't know about sequins, but he knows about girls, and this is a girl he would like to eat with one of Luke's coffee spoons.
"I've just never really wanted to leave here," she continues and he comes back with a start from trying to see her bra line under the shirt. "I've traveled -- kind of -- traveling with Grandma is less of a crazy adventure and more of a jaunt, or maybe a folderol?" In a crappy British accent she begins one of her long monologues, "What ho, young man! Could you fetch a gin on the rocks for my husband..." and once again, feeling mildly guilty, he zones out and then back in following the line of her neck to her shoulder and over to that little cluster of sequins.
Jess likes Rory a lot. A whole bunch. There are many days in which he is sure he loves her. But listening to her talk in that accent is just not going to happen. When she talks, she sometimes throws her hair over her back, kind of unconsciously. It makes him want to scream, because screaming is about all he can do on a park bench in Stars Hollow. No one will look at him if he screams. Will they?
He launches himself out of the bench in mid-monologue, striding toward a little fountain. Rory follows -- after she's finished her sentence -- of course. They walk silently for a minute, which is nice. Because if she asked him what was wrong, he doesn't know what he'd say. Hey Rory, I'm a normal guy. Don't you think I'm normal? Maybe a bit on the wild side, yeah, but that's what you like about me. And see, the fact of my normality means, that -- that I want you. Like any man wants a woman. Do you understand? I want to take your clothes off and do with you what I have done before, but this time it would be more wild and more beautiful, because you are both of those things.
And maybe, Rory, maybe that will get you out of my head.
"I just don't see the value in leaving home," she says, kicking at a stone. She's continuing their previous discussion, the one which the Emily impersonation had cut short. Jess is used to that, so he can make that connection. "Stuff's out there, but what makes it so much better?"
"That's where we diverge," he says. "The difference between us is, that you have a home -- and I don't." To the shocked look on her face, there is nothing he can say.
* * *
She disagrees, of course, with the movement principle as posited by Robert Pirsig. Heaven forbid that anyone leave anywhere in order to find themselves. It's completely predictable, almost funny the way he knows what she's about to say.
"I hated that book," she says. "I couldn't get through it. What does zen have to do with motorcycles anyway?"
"I bet you hated Kerouac, too," he says, going on the offensive for the hell of it. She looks at him sideways.
"Yeah, but more for the purple prose."
"So you're saying that if I got a motorcycle and took off into the random unknown, it wouldn't be possible to find enlightenment?"
"You might find the world's largest toilet," she smiles, but she's avoiding the question, and that's interesting.
"Enlightenment has to be out there somewhere, because it sure as hell isn't here," and it stings her, he can see it in her eyes.
"Jess," she says slowly, and she takes his hand, which is such a Rory-is-saying-something-important thing for her to do that he wants to scream. "I want you to be happy and if you have to do it out there somewhere, then do it. If you have to buy a bike and travel to Nepal on a tramp steamer, then do it."
"Would you come with me?" he asks, and to forestall the predictable answer, he leans over and kisses her, a sweet hot kiss that sets his mouth on fire like chinese hot sauce. And he deliberately doesn't come up for air, holding her there with him, holding on for dear life.
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