I was on my way to a quarry in Whitehall, Sean was meeting me there. We were going to pick out stone for a patio we will be building this week. It had been some time since we had done a joint project, always too busy with work or spending time with the girls, to tackle anything beyond hanging pictures. We were giddy with anticipation, both for the finished product and the labor it would take to do, time together.
The radio was tuned to a country station and a rich, chocolatey voice melted from the dashboard, filling the car with a melody that curled around me like wisps of campfire smoke. Driving away from the setting sun, the windows on either side of me open halfway, I took a deep breath and felt the tension of the day slip away and through the windows, leaving me deliciously molded to the seat of the Jeep. My hair, fastened in a low pony tail beneath my cap, tickled my neck as the wind whistled past. My fingers drummed the side of the steering wheel and my mind wandered.
I smiled thinking back to the year we spent fixing up our house, demolishing and gutting the upstairs, tossing debris through the window as late as we dared, and then sitting on the porch sipping frosty bottles of beer. Dumpster upon dumpster of lath and plaster, rolls of gold carpet, and more wallpaper than seemed possible. It was a sweaty first year of marriage, but it was as romantic and profound as any whirlwind trip and dates laced year. Going back to our beginning with this project ignited a flurry of butterflies in my belly. Brad Paisley crooned about wanting to drive out into the country and park. In a second I was back to the early days with Sean, his horror at my taste for country music. And then back to the present:
“Have you heard that song about ticks?” He had asked me with a dirty smile.
“Ticks? Song?” Incredulously.
“Yeah, it’s pretty great.” He chuckled.
I’d like to see you.. out in the moonlight
I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks…
I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers…
And I’d like to check you for Ticks
I looked in the mirror as I listened to the song. It was pure, silly country through and through, unapologetically ridiculous and impossibly infectious. I loved it, more so for thinking of Sean hearing it for the first time and thinking of me. The skin around my eyes crinkled and bent, eruptions of lines like a child’s rendering of the sun framed my familiar greenish eyes. I watched my lips, turned up at the sides, kind of crooked, as if saying, “Hey eyes? You havin’ as much fun as we are?” My eyes twinkled in response. In that moment I loved my reflection, worshiped the emerging landscape of my happiness and experience upon my face.There was a smattering of freckles across my nose and bits of hair danced to and fro above them. Sean loved those freckles from that first summer. Sean.
We’ve known each other for eight years, I was not yet 26, he was just 23. We’re by no means old, but older indeed. Two girls, a house, and a life. These lines on my face, the first of many still to come, and this silly tick song, just a hint of all the experiences we have in store. He loved the girl at 26 and the mom at almost 34. And I know without a doubt he’d love to check me for ticks. It’s simple, but it’s sweet. And today, dirt under my nails and sweat caught in my wrinkles, I worship the life that I have.