I noticed him relaxing, smiling easily on a white cooler as I pulled my way across the quick current into the eddie line, where my boat immediately slowed in the soft swirls. It was a pleasant surprise to see his unruly curls at the take out even though he had the day off. Tyler and Byrne steadied the raft as I helped my passengers get to land safely, then turned to the love of my life and gave him a big hug and a kiss.
“AND I’ve got food,” he assured me with his token mischievous grin as I trotted off to the fold out table to make my passengers Mocha-Ritas and hot cocoa after their seven mile float trip in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. I fed them, handed out warm drinks for cold hands, then sent them on their way before returning to him at the passenger side of the gear truck. He was sitting in the back seat holding a plate covered in foil. He had written in blue magic marker on the front, “Hi, I love you. – Me.”
“I can’t wait for you to try it!” he smiled at me excitedly from his seat. I smiled back, and resisting an almost overwhelming temptation, walked over to the boats we needed to lift onto the trailer. In between boats, he beckoned me back. “Try it! Try it! Try it!” he passed me the plate like a five year old would pass his mom his freshly made popsicle stick castle for her birthday.
“Ha! OK! GEEEEZE!” I laughed and kissed him sweetly, feeling his soft mustache tickle my nose before I peaked under the foil, “ARROZ CON GANDULES! WOW!” I grabbed the fork without another word and piled it high, turning quickly to protect my plate.
NOM NOM NOM!
“It’s AMAZING! Perfect, lover!” I gushed, meaning every single word, “It’s as if my sister made it herself!”
“I got it right this time, right? I could feel it! I even had a conversation with Kent while making them, and I still KNEW I got them right!”
“Yes, Lover, you made them spot on! They are SLAMMIN’!” I shoveled a few more fork fulls before returning to the rafts that needed to be loaded onto the back of the trailer.
When I first arrived in Haines, one of the first and most repeated recommendations from the locals for lunch was 33 Mile. I was told they had the “absolute best burgers in SE Alaska.” When the work at the take out was finished, Paul and Bryce decided that they’d like to go to there for lunch before setting up for the next trip.
It’s true. Their burgers are great. The last time I had one was mid-August last year with my great friend, Pat and his family. Being gluten free has eliminated most temptation for John and me in the burger department, and that day was no different. While the boys went in to have their lunch, John and I carried out our plates of arroz con gandules, the thermos of cafe con Carolans, and the gluten free spice cake donut he included in his surprise onto the soft grass next to the restaurant and lay under the sweeping vibrant green branches of a healthy young alder. We ate, joked, and laughed. I told animated stories about my trip with the Puerto Rican family that invited me to stay with them in Bayamon, and he told me about his mission to make this surprise happen.
We sat shoulder to shoulder simply loving being near one another; brainstorming dreamily about our trip to Central and South America, celebrating each other’s existence through laughter. When we finished our lunch and had divided the donut ALMOST equally, John lay back, folding his hands under his head, and I laid my head on his firm stomach to feel his heart beat vibrating along the tiny hairs on my neck.
I love this man.
I picked up the book, Mum’s List, when I was in the Seattle Airport on my trip to LA a few weeks back. (Read my review HERE) It’s a story about a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer and leaves her soulmate and two beautiful children behind with a list of things to remember, to appreciate, and to do. It’s a story of her soulmate’s struggle with continuing on without his love by his side, and grasping the fact that in this lifetime, everything about her is but a beautiful memory.
John and I have been reading portions of the book together, as an unecessary but beautiful reminder to never take one another for granted and to celebrate our love at every possible opportunity. So there, in the sweet-smelling SE Alaskan grass, under the warm reach of alder arms, I read to him, through choking tears at some points, the last two chapters of the book. I could hear his breath quicken at moments, when he, too, was moved by Singe’s burning loss.
When I finished, we sat in silence for a while before John said softly, “I could have understood his pain at any point in my life, but only since I’ve met you could I REALLY REALLY get it. I don’t ever want to live a day without you in my life. I don’t know what I’d do. You’re the woman of my reality! I love you so, so much, sweet mama.”
I smiled through my tears, “I never want to be without you, either, lover. I love you. Thank you for waiting for me.”
“Thank you for finding me,” he whispered as he shifted his weight to his elbow so I could lean up and kiss him. I breathed his sweet scent, feeling the electricity of his energy flowing through my core with the brush of his lips against mine. I felt our souls embrace in a moment unparalleled in simplicity and beauty.
And so, we sat there for brief moment in time during my break between river trips; lovers laying in the grass, under a tree, next to a roadside burger joint in Haines, Alaska, foreheads touching, loving, appreciating, celebrating.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Live, laugh, love, dance, and remember Hallmark didn’t invent romance.