Monday, February 13, 2012

the day we knew.

it all happened the day i wore pink.

in jackson hole, where i was living for a summer.  he was an hour and a half drive from me at his own school, and randomly sent an email saying he wanted to visit, he had never been to the town.  {a shame for anyone who has not had the pleasure.}

the shirt i wore was borrowed from my roommate, because at that time i had made a purposeful point in having no pink clothing in my possession.  i met him, as he pulled up in his car.  we smiled, gave an awkward hug of old friends.

and started walking.

we went through art galleries, cowboy shops, clothing stores, photography galleries.  we stared at one picture for several minutes, mesmerized.  a midnight sky over the peaks of the mountains, lightning in the distance.

as we walked, we talked.  and talked and talked.  filled each other in on the last 3 years of our lives.  adventures and travels, my family struggles, his mission, each other's college.  our current relationships and how we were happy in them.  {i lied, i wasn't really happy in mine}

"how do you walk in those things?"  he asked me, looking down at my brown platform sandals.

"like this," i replied, and started walking away.  we both laughed.

we stopped at a park, laid down in the grass.  it was there that i opened up to him, on a real level.  something that at that point in my life, i rarely did unless someone had proven themselves worthy, safe.  which in my book, took a long time.  i told him i wasn't really happy with where my life was heading, but was unsure how to stop it, how to change my course.

it was then that he said,

"if only you could see yourself the way i see you."

and i was embarrassed, but i looked in his brown eyes with his long dark eyelashes, and i knew he meant it.

the moment was broken, and we stood up for lunch, walking and bantering back and forth about the correct way to pronounce the word "gyros."  we ate, then began walking again.

at one point, he tripped.  "first day on the new feet, huh?"  i teased him.  we laughed and he said he liked me because i reminded him of his sisters.  "calling me out on my crap just like they do," he said.

our time was coming to an end, and i felt sadness creep around the edge of the air as i thought about him leaving.  we walked to one of my favorite places on earth.  a bench for two, set up in a field overlooking the Teton mountains.  it was a place that before this day, i had only been to alone.  we watched the sun set together, naming the colors as they changed.  purple, amethyst, pink, orange, peach, vermillion, aquamarine, teal, salmon, we tried to get creative.  ended up laughing again, and as we did, i couldn't remember a time where i had laughed more with anyone.

our hello and good-bye hug was the only time we touched.  i watched him drive away, as he took the sun with him.  i turned back to go home, thinking that it was one of the best days i had experienced in a long time, hoping one day it would happen again.  but instead of going home, i unexpectedly turned down the road to that photography shop, and bought the picture we had stared at together.  i vowed to give it to him, somehow.

and i did, almost 2 months later.

i saw him at church, i was going in as he was leaving.

"hey!"  we both said at the same time.

"what are you doing here?"  he asked me.

"i'm back in town,"  i said.  "home on a break to get my tonsils out, i'll go back next semester.  what are you doing here?"

"home on a break too!  well, actually, i'm leaving right now for california," and then he explained that he was going to move his girlfriend back home so they would no longer be long-distance.

i was happy for them that they were doing well, but for myself, my heart sank.

"are you still dating the auto mechanic guy?"  he asked.

"no, i broke up with him.  i knew it was just for the summer, and honestly wanted it to be over even before i left,"  i explained.  "oh!  i almost forgot!  i have something for you, in my car,"  i blurted out, then felt embarrassed as he asked,

"in your car, for me?  how long have you been hanging on to it?"  his voice was surprised.

instead of answering his question, i walked to my car and pulled out the picture.

"it's um, nothing.  you know....uh, a late birthday present!  it was a few weeks ago, right?  happy birthday!" i tried to downplay the gift, worried with the thought that the day we had spent together meant more to me than it had to him.

"that picture!  it's the one we liked!  wow, i can't believe you remembered,"  he said.  "thank you so much."   and awkwardly hugged me.

i watched him drive away, taking the warmth of the sun with him once more.

weeks went by before i ran into him again, our paths crossing for the second time in the hallway at church.

"i was hoping i'd see you here,"  i heard from behind me.  i was smiling before i turned around.

and within 5 minutes, he told me that he and his girlfriend had not been able to make it work, and it was a hard break-up, but he felt it was for the best.  he asked if he could see me again, sometime this week?

suddenly, i was nervous.  the faces of the boys before him flashing through my brain, knowing that this would be something different.  because he was different.  i could look ahead and faintly see the possibility of us.

"yes,"  i said, before realizing the word had actually come from my mouth.


it has now been a decade since the day of tall sandals, and walking, and laughing, and deep conversations in parks, photographs and gyros, and sunsets on the day i wore pink.

so much has gone between us.  homes and jobs, cars and crashes. feeling heaven open three times as small cries filled a room.  victories and disappointments, loud sneezes, worried glances over hospital beds, apologies and forgiveness, songs in the dark, back scratches and seizures, school and more school, bloodshot eyes and exhaustion, "vomit mode" and "business tone," cheezy teezies, late to church, facial hair and inside jokes, desperately hanging on, crazy teenagers, empty bank accounts, tears of joy, physical pain and emotionally heart-wrenching moments, staying connected, decisions to not give up, cold feet meeting under covers, being pushed to limits and not breaking because we are us.  

and always, laughter.

tonight we played a spontaneous game of baseball, with a few slices of stale ciabatta bread.  i was the pitcher, and stood across the kitchen as ben the batter stood at home plate with a large kitchen knife to bat with.  we laughed as i pitched again and again.

"hey, i think i'm going to write about you," i said a few minutes later.  "about the day i knew i loved you."

"oh yeah?  which day was that?"  he asked.

"you have to guess,"  i replied.

he thought for a minute.

"well for me,"  he said, "it was that day in jackson hole.  before anything really happened. it was after that day, i knew."  

"same for me,"  i replied.  and we both smiled.


Melyni + Alma said...

So, sooo cute! It almost made me cry :) You guys are so perfect together!

MandM said...

I love it. You two are a perfect fit.

Sarah and Addison said...

Oh, I love a good love story. I fell in love in Jackson Hole once too. It's a magical place. I'm so happy Ben found you. He is the man who taught me how to let boys open doors for me. Never forgot that.

Nana said...

What a sweet Love story! Made me cry. What a wonderful couple and what a wonderful family you have. Thanks for the inspiring message today!

Rachel Holloway said...

That's the cutest love story EVER! :)

Erika said...

Awww i loved your story!!! :)

Kanien said...

Lynsey I love reading your blog. I love your way with words. Loved your story thanks for sharing.

ohmylanta said...

Awe..... the perfect love story!

Amazing how things happen. Just how they should!

Kurt and Kristy said...

What a great story! You 2 make a wonderful couple!!

Melissa said...

I am crying. I love love stories! Real ones that aren't perfect. Ones that last because two people are willing to work for it. I've never meant Ben, but I am glad you two found each other.

Amber said...

This made me cry. I love it! Very touching. Thank you for sharing!!

Rachel Chick said...

I just realized that I never commented on here. How sad is that? I love this, Lynsey. To hear the beginning of a story that I love so much, is a sweet, sweet thing and it's made all the sweeter by all the heartache and joy in between then and now. What a beautiful love story you both have. Thank you for sharing it.