You shouldn't have to try, not with the people who (say they) love you. Despite what Miranda and Natalie say, Liz believes this down to her bones. What else is love if it isn't generous, and comforting, and fond? If you have to *try* with someone, you aren't truly loved.
"So, what, you're just going to go all hippie-mama up here?" Miranda asks, not even looking up from her phone. The trees and mountains make her more fidgety than usual.
"She named her son River," Natalie puts in, "how much farther can she go?"
"River's a great name!" Ned bustles out the kitchen door carrying a tray of lemonades and pitcher of sangria and Tom Collins. "I wish my name was River." He tilts his head, considering it, eyes going faraway. "Or Wind. Windy Rochlin. Sounds nice."
River is down at the bottom of the garden, throwing a stick with Willie Nelson; Cindy's pacing up and down nearby, the baby in a sling around her shoulders. She's been sporting a monocle lately; every so often, the lens catches the late afternoon sun and winks up at them.
Liz scoots over to make room for Ned on the big Adirondack chair, and he collapses against her, warm and smelling like lemons (and, well. Musky-Ned and weed, of course). He tips his head against her shoulder and they twine their fingers together, squeezing softly. With his free hand, he holds up a glass of sangria for her to sip from.
"Oh, my God," Miranda says, "you two are, like, brainmelding."
Ned gets her. She doesn't have to try with Ned; his love is wide as a prairie sky, steady as the Catskills around them. And it's not because he's her brother, because she has to try with Nat and Miranda. She has to bite her tongue, think of amusing things to say, brush her hair just right. Name her child something acceptable.
But Ned smiles like the dawn, like wintermelt, bright and widening, and Liz --. Liz feels good. Content, quiet, full of sweet, ever-swelling potential.
She moved up here when they sold the house; Ned found a Waldorf school for River. She invested in the candle store, started fostering feral cats and their litters, thought about writing poetry again. It doesn't matter what she does; she doesn't have to try.
At night, under the huge patchwork quilt, she curls around Ned and breathes in and out, and she stops worrying.