It is my husband’s final weekend of work for a couple of months after spending the last ten months on the road. It feels like he’s been gone all of the time, even though I know it was more like 3-4 day stretches with the occasional crazy mixed in there (see “The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem” or “Instructions for Crazy“). I have been waiting for this light at the end of the tunnel feeling for months, and it’s so bright now that I’m squinting. Ah! The light, the light, the glorious light!
After Memorial Day weekend, Brandon and I have three solid days of dating planned. It happened accidentally. I am going to New York City on Wednesday to accept an award on behalf of the Ashland Poetry Press (woo!), and it just so happens that Wednesday is Brandon’s birthday. What better way to spend your birthday than with me in NYC?! We’re staying one night and bounding back to Ohio on Thursday, but then, THEN, we are going to see Tim McGraw at Blossom on Friday night, a gift from Mr. Awesome-Husband.
I am so freaking excited about this stretch of three days.
That is kind of bad news. I am the queen of getting my hopes up. I’ve already imagined the lolling tongue grin I’ll have plastered on my face at the concert with my husband’s arm around my waist as we belt out with the crowd, “Where the green grass grows.” I can taste the sizzle of dinner in the city, the cool heat of whiskey or martini after our meal, the twinkly glow of city lights dancing in the night, the melt and anticipation for the rest of our evening, cool sheets, down pillows, the silence of no-children, the useless alarm on the nightstand, the muffled roar of the city below our window.
This is kind of bad news because you really can’t plan to be romanced. Oh, I can hope for it and rev up to it and dress up and psych myself but I can’t predict or prepare for how our trip will go. You can’t plan which memories will stick as a future touchstone. The quickening heart only beats harder in reminiscence. I feel it now because we have been in these scenes before and my heart warms at the memory– other concerts, other cities, other dinners, boardwalks and sidewalks and forest hikes and hot tubs and rose petals in soap bubbles– but in the moment, we were just walking. Just eating. Just coming down from a wedding or a movie or a play or a good show, and man, weren’t those seats great right there by the stage and he sang every song we love it was so good let’s play the CD of him again and sing along loud down the highway home.
Is it weird to look forward to a trip and a concert so that you can also look back at it with the warmth of nostalgia and familiarity later? I think back on the day I graduated from Ashland, how I squeezed Brandon’s hand in the car on the way home after dinner that night, how I smiled and said, “This has been a really great day,” how he detoured to downtown Cuyahoga Falls and then how we walked the shadowy boardwalk by the falls, the water raging below, the highway racing above, branches low and full of leaves around us, how he stopped and knelt, and I knew, yes, finally, yes, yes, I will! It was the only day he could have picked to propose that he knew I wouldn’t be anticipating a ring.
I couldn’t know then as the day played out that I would return to this memory, turn it around in my hand like a smooth stone to feel the cool air on my skin, the cold band on my finger, the rush of my breath and our embrace, that promise, that choice. How could I know? But I hold that memory, tuck it in an aura with all of the other small and significant moments I’ve collected. So much would follow that proposal, so much more heartache, so much more joy than any one person can fathom from that starting position. Only from this current peak can one comprehend the distance and majesty of the preceding hike.
All I see this coming week is the trail and some trees, a little slope to the climb but nothing much to strain against. So as we enter into our binge dating after so many stolen minutes between work and homework and baths and bedtime songs and wrinkled baskets of laundry, we will drive to the airport like it is an ordinary day, stroll the streets of another city like they are just sidewalks, eat food as if that’s just what you do to survive after all, and roll towards the middle of the king-size bed because, sure, we’re tired, but we’re not that tired. It will be an ordinary day, but all of that ordinariness, well, it is woven in this unique pattern between my husband and me. And that’s extraordinary.