I recently went to visit my boyfriend—hmm. It’s real fun saying that. I think that may be the first time I have said that about him. At least in writing. Anyhow, digressions are my favorite—in Pennsylvania. Where he lives. And yes I live in Wyoming. Let the record state that long distance relationships are real challenging. But if it is with someone truly exceptional, as fits the bill with my boyfriend, then they are also truly worth it. Again I digress. None of this is the point.
Visiting him was… I don’t even want to insert a word there, like incredible or wonderful, because those are just words that are vast and don’t really hold the meaning of what I felt being in his home. His home where he puts his feet down on the hardwood floor in the morning and walks to the shower. Or eats cookies standing up and drinking his milk slowly. Way more slowly than I drink milk, especially with cookies. Where he brushes his teeth and dances with his dogs: Moses and Chubs, totally differing in personality, Moses being sort of subdued and sweet and Chubs being overeager, because she’s still young and fiercely excited for attention. Moses has the same personality as my brother Nick. And I don’t mean this as an insult to Nick. It’s a compliment. I think Nick is darn near perfect in his sweetness. His temperament of not wanting to upset any balances or ruffle feathers and doing exactly as he is told. That’s how Moses was and I loved it.
Being there and walking around his yard, checking out the chickens and goat, who also seemed as curious about me as I was about them. Or writing in his kitchen while he made me lunch and would continually come over to kiss my cheek and smile at me. Then when I got up to refill my coffee, which was really just a ruse to be near him, he pulled me to him and sort of swayed with me right there in the kitchen as he always has music on. And I thought, well… isn’t this lovely… being held in his light blue kitchen with exposed barn wood, lounging dogs and rustic cowboy décor. And with a man who always smells fresh and has this really Colgate-y delicious breath that made me constantly fret over my own breath.
In fact, after lunch one day—which was pulled pork, except I had mine on a salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing—I went to brush my teeth, because well, yikes. But also I was about to meet his family for the first time and I wanted to make an impression that didn’t include raspberry beef breath which is exactly what I said to him when he asked if I was ready to go. He was rinsing his plate as I made my way to the bathroom.
“Wait a minute!” he yelled, “you better not brush your teeth yet! Raspberry beef breath?! Get over here,” he said with a seductive little smile like he was very enticed by my lunch breath. I began to laugh and came back to the kitchen. He grabbed me and began to kiss me, pulling me into the living room and then tipping me over the back of the couch so we both toppled and I landed on top of him.
“Beef breath huh?” he said, while continuing to kiss me. I giggled and squirmed to get off of him so I could go brush my teeth.
“Okay, get off of me and go brush your teeth,” he said while clutching me tighter to him. I tried to pull away and he pulled tighter. “Well are you going to go?”
“I can’t!” I laughed.
“Oh my gosh, get off of me,” he said, while still holding me tight.
I finally weaseled my way off of him and went to brush my teeth, chuckling the whole way to the bathroom and thinking if a man still wants to smooch me with raspberry beef breath, he’s probably a keeper.
Then there was flying in his plane. I wish I had words for this as well. But I don’t because certain things in life leave me utterly speechless in the most profound way and I know it’s God letting me know that not every thing or every experience can be assigned a word—when some things simply illicit overwhelming feelings of awe, wonder and intense gratitude for the moments that belong to you. And being in a plane, that my boyfriend flew, while staring out at patches of land, clouds, lakes, rivers, sunshine, birds and barns, was an extended moment in time that I wanted to frame and put on my memory’s mantelpiece. If truth be told I would probably frame the beef breath thing too.
And so when it came time to leave, naturally I took it like a total toddler. I sat in the airport listening to a song that reminded me of him, and a bluesy one at that—in true masochistic fashion—wanting to weep. But didn’t because while my eyes lighten to a stark shade of turquoise when I cry, that is the only part of me that’s remotely fetching. And I wanted to spare my fellow Delta passengers awkward discomfort while I sniveled as if my boyfriend had just left for war, when really we were A-okay, we just couldn’t make out and eat cookies together in his kitchen anymore. As I have a job and he has a job. It’s a whole messy debacle this adulthood nonsense, but alas.
Now here I am, back in the West and it has been a few days for me to come to grips with being minus one cowboy, while I admittedly have continued to be a bit of a baby brat about the whole thing. So when I trudged home through the snow last night, to my quaint and cozy house, I had to pull myself out of the doldrums, where I had been comfortably sitting for some number of hours. It was necessary and it was time.
I walked inside determined to see the loveliness around me and not just fixate on my bluesiness over finally meeting a real solid man only have to him live oh so far from me and my mountains. He was nice, see? He stocked his house full of dark roast coffee and chocolatey snacks because he knew I liked them. And he kissed me even when I had coffee breath… or worse. And well if we’re throwing out stats, he’s also super easy on the eyes, which isn’t hurting anyone.
But my heart isn’t so small that it cannot recognize all the kinds of love. The part of me that craves love—especially of the coffee and chocolate/dog and chicken loving/good kisser/silly and wonderful/delicious cowboy variety—isn’t the only kind of love that means something to me.
So I started doing the dishes. Which, though a chore, always soothes me and I found the task of cleaning plates and organizing a messy kitchen helped un-rattle nerves that were wound tight. Then I scurried about the house tidying coats and papers and adjusting candles and making the house look generally pleasing.
And as I did this I noticed something else. The way the house smelled like pine trees and pecans. How Kia high-fived me as I walked past and smiled at me just because she’s my sister and she’s fond of me. How the Christmas tree lights reflected in the kitchen window and sparkled in the dark. How nice it was to have a home with my sisters, where we shared things and talked over one another when we were excited to make a point and cuddled and cried and did each others laundry.
And all these things are a very specific kind of love too. Suddenly enveloping me I thought, all these seemingly mundane details of life: like how my back room that I share with Kirst is too cold and even though there are at least 5 mismatched comforters on the bed including one with Mickey mouse and one with goldfish, sometimes I am still too cold and so Kia will give up her room, which is the laundry room and is always hot from the dryer, so that I can be warm and cozy. That is love. And Kirstie will pack granola bars for hikes and purposefully give me the one that is not s’mores flavored because she knows I hate s’mores flavored anything unless it is a real s’more. That too is love.
These things add up to love whichever way you do the addition, whether it is a sister or a cowboy, the love is there.
And while being held tight by a cowboy kind of love is sincerely wonderful, I don’t know how many more years I will be able to have Kirst and Kia (though both much littler than me) be the big spoon in a bed full of Disney blankets. So maybe I shouldn’t bemoan so much now. Love is love after all. And there is no absence of that in my life.