I’ve spent a lot of time away from this house-in-progress this summer, so it was nice to make a plan to stick around and enjoy it. My husband, he’s a good conversationalist, and I like to ask questions of him, hypothetical, favorite memory, why things work the way they do questions.
“In 8 years of marriage, what’s your favorite memory?”
“Tiling the bathroom upstairs,” he replied.
“Shut your face,” I said.
And then he said, “I don’t know. I like the collective. I like how it’s all working out the way I hoped. Most things anyway…”
We looked through our wedding album and commented on how brown the landscape was compared to this year, remembering the heat and the fire danger in 2006, and how maybe it wasn’t a great idea to roast the pig in a pit outside my parent’s house for the grooms dinner.
It feels like it was yesterday and 100 years ago all at the same time, when I was almost 23 and making this huge commitment to a man.
I had no expectations, except that we would keep going the way we were going, singing and cooking and poking fun at one another to keep things light. I hoped for another few vacations to the mountains. I hoped for a dog and a baby or two.
I hoped for a house in the trees, one that looked a lot like the one I’m sitting in now.
Yes, it’s nice to see things coming together.
Most things anyway.
I poured another glass of champaign and a hummingbird flew by us, an arm’s length away. I hit Husband’s shoulder to make sure he saw it. He said he did. He saw it perched up on the oak tree by the deck where it landed. Then he saw it come down to the pink petunias, the only deck flower I can sort-of keep alive.
Then the cat saw it, then it was gone.
Over by the dam a doe walked out of the shadow of the brush and into the light of the open. She was the color of a vibrant summer and we watched her flick her tail at flies and talked about hunting elk this fall.
When I was growing up with this man on a small ranch outside a small town in the small world of Western North Dakota, we were not supposed to mention that maybe we’d want to come home someday.
There was nothing for us here except maybe a job at the bank or a couple kids to raise. We needed to grow up in a bigger world…That’s what we were told, except I don’t know why now remembering how I watched our mothers do just fine, teaching us about happiness and love and how to make spaghetti for the family…
Somedays I wonder what I’d be like between the big city sidewalks. I like to think I would be just fine anywhere, if it’s where I chose. I’d like to think, but then I’ll never know.
But aren’t we lucky to have choices…
I fell asleep on my husband’s shoulder last night and woke up to a kiss on the cheek and a see you later tonight. Today it is 80 some degrees and the wind is sorta blowing. The cats and dogs are in the garage and I’m making plans to stain and finish that deck we sat out on last night.
I think I’ll go to town and buy supplies, pick up an ice cream for the way home.
Ice cream season doesn’t last too long, summer just sort of melts away slowly and then all at once, just like these years…
Just like that ice cream cone.
Some days, when I’m asked, I don’t know how to answer why it is that I decided to be a girl who came back home. Some days I feel sort of silly that I’ve been so loyal to a place and to a man, like maybe I’ve missed something. Like maybe people think it’s a sorta shame while they nod their heads and say “well, isn’t that nice…”
We play that game too, Husband and I. What would you be doing if you weren’t here?
Who would you be with?
He says he’d live alone in the mountains and drink lots of whiskey and trap things. He says he wouldn’t be such a good man if I wasn’t around.
He says the right things.
I say I’d probably still be driving the Chevy Lumina and watching TV on that little yellow set my mom got me when I moved to college. I’d probably still be driving around, wondering if it was time to land yet…
I’m glad I got to him before he became a mountain man. I’m glad he’s home when I come in late from playing a barn dance by a lake and a little town down the road.
I’m glad we’ve got each other.
Glad he likes whiskey so I could have the champaign to myself.
Glad that we get another year…