Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of something I wouldn’t usually do. If I’m feeling bold, I’ll go down that path creatively. I’m often surprised by where this takes me – sometimes good, sometimes bad. This time, it was good.
To step foot on the land that Carrie & Ron have purchased is to know them. It is overflowing in features; rolling hills, magnificent positioning in the sun’s path, white rustic fence, long drive, remote and rural feel, open expanses of fields, untamed wildness, and the twinkle of both their eyes – a white clad barn built with obvious love, just waiting for their horses. Ron could talk about it, the garden they started already, the big “toys” he gets to acquire now, for hours. Carrie speaks mostly of the horses that she’ll import from Europe and raise here, the ones who will watch over the pasture in their retirement. The two of them step foot on the soil of this land and you can watch their stresses melt, their hearts lift, and their eyes sparkle – all at once. They’ve searched for this property for many years. They were nearly ready to give up. You never know how close you are to your goals sometimes. 2017 has been one of those years to break through for these two. They will have bought the land to build their dreams on, broken ground on a new home, and brought their 15 year (maybe more?) relationship to a defining moment of marriage.
Theirs is a story straight out of a movie script. A concert with friends led to a kismet meeting between the two groups, and more so between Elise & Dan. An after party at what they thought was a mutual friend’s house, turned out to be just random for them both. And not just random, but also rather seedy and possibly dangerous. Finding themselves surrounded by characters they could usually only imagine, conditions that were far below the acceptable nature of even the lowest of roach motels, and circumstances they could only see combining in disaster, they escaped. They ran, they laughed, they survived. At dawn they parted ways, grateful for a fresh new day. The weeks that followed found them messaging back and forth about their shared experience that night. It’s been said that stressful situations have a way of bringing people together. It’s true, and though theirs might not have been a plane crash or something that dire, it did the job just the same. Elise found there is no one she’d rather run away with than Dan. And Dan found he would prefer to spend all his madcap nights, and the calm ones too, with Elise.
They met among the rolling hills and endless roads of a group bike tour in Estonia. He had a gentle nature she appreciated, she was full of wit and maybe a splash of sass, which kept him on his toes. They were both connected back in Chicago; to other loves. Friends they became, and pedaled on through the years. The time wore on and still finding themselves gliding past one another on bike trips that require passports, feeling the fine breeze in their faces, and the long nights of wine and conversation surrounding them; circumstances had changed. He wondered if she was really interested, and available. She flirted with the idea that he was, and tried to leave the option on the table. And then there was the night when her travelling friend went to bed early, and there was some wine, and the cool night air, and the stars overhead, and a kiss…
When you are in high school, getting the attention of the guy is a little round-a-bout. You flirt, you take the long route, you find ways to be where she might be. You plan outfits, figure out ways to be interested, choose just the right hair style to appear effortless. Only to have it all fall apart with some teenage misstep that leaves you vulnerable, exposed and embarrassed. That is pretty much how it went for Casey and Jake. They intersected and flitted around each other for awhile in school. Each aware of the other, possibly interested, not sure how to make it known. And then he invited her to his father’s house for a get-together. She arrived in her parent’s car and promptly got it stuck in the snowy driveway. As in, “hey, I need some help from a tow truck” stuck. Casey’s cheeks had to have been flushed at the mistake. I mean here she finally had Casey’s attention and she’s gone and beached her car. Lucky for Casey, Jake found the whole ordeal charming, and still recounts the incident as his favorite memory of her to this day. And so, the two high-school sweethearts are tying the knot, building a home, and starting a new life together.
He had recently put the finishing touches on his lake home in Lake Beulah. It was exactly as he wanted it, and he stood out on the peninsula that jutted out into the waters, looking at the lakeshore surrounding him, the sun getting lower over the treeline, surveying his handi-work. The breeze whipped past him and swayed the hammock a bit. Across the lake, she gunned the engine in the boat a bit, impishly looking back towards her daughters to see if she had caught them off guard. They paid no attention and were instead ensconced in the love of extended family members snuggled around them, hair whipping into their faces. It was a celebration for her Grandmother’s birthday, here at her lake home. There wasn’t a better way to remember that woman than to spend time on these waters, she thought to herself. She swiped a tear from her eye as she looked across the lake in front of her. The peninsula with the big blue house came up on her right, and she started to turn around it, hugging into the curve. Just as she rounded the bend, the engine killed on the boat. She looked down perplexedly. Checked her gages but found no answers. She turned the key, and then turned it again. No luck. She looked up and saw one of the empty docks on the peninsula. A tall and lean man was walking towards them, waving his arms. “Hey, you need help?” he yelled. She laughed, looked back at her boat full of people. Cupping her hands around her mouth, “Yes, I think so!” She lobbed back. He hit a trot down the dock. Her aunt chuckled, taking up a spot next to her at the wheel. “Well, this just got interesting, didn’t it?”
The snow crunched under their feet. He swung her arm a bit and they continued along the trail. It was a lovely way to start the day; hiking the Oak Leaf trail surrounded by the last snow of the season. She knew she’d appreciate the extra Kyle time later that day at work, but right now she was a little peeved. Last night he had taken her out to the site of their first date, then out to the bar. She thought for sure he was going to propose, but then nothing. Even this little walk was her idea, she’d mentioned it weeks ago. So this couldn’t possibly be the moment. They rounded the bend, heading into the sunrise. He squeezed her hands a few yards later, suggested they stop to watch the sun come up over the hill. She snuggled into his arms, breathing in that scent that was so signature to him. He started to talk about how much fun they have, how much he enjoyed being with her. ‘How sweet!’ she thought. The sun broke over the treetops, warming her face. Kyle moved quickly, down onto one knee and asking a question. Kristin just cried happy tears.
Sometimes you are looking in all the wrong places. Sometimes you get knocked over with the realization that what you’ve been seeking has been right in front of you all along. That’s Annie & Mike. They met freshman year of college. He was a floundering teenager spreading his wings for the first time. She says she was much the same. His roommates made friends with hers, and so they were friends. Four years flew by and they all graduated and scattered about the country like leaves in the wind. Then there was that rare weekend in Chicago where everyone happened to be in the same place at the same time. They talked all night…about everything. Emails turned into texts, texts became phone calls. Annie booked a ticket to Florida and Mike finally admitted he had a crush. She already knew because she had one too.
They say love finds you when you aren’t looking for it. For Tara & Victor that has proven true many times. A week of training seminars was where their paths crossed. When they separated for different parts of the state, they exchanged numbers. It was a few months later when Tara realized she’d been texting with “that guy” from the seminar for weeks. So they met up, started dating, and then moved in together. It was another day of low expectations and work-related fatigue that saw Tara coming home looking forward to some couch time. Instead she stumbled up on a trail of rose petals, a smiling Victor and a ring…
Brian is a planner. He sees forward 10 steps and acts accordingly. This is an admirable quality in any mate. For Jessica, it meant a perfectly surprising proposal. She was planning on a nice evening out with a friend from out of town. A friend of Brian’s. He’d texted her the day before, saying how much he was looking forward to seeing them both. And so Jess spent the early evening dressing and primping. Brian, meanwhile, was texting with that same friend, smiling at how his plan was playing out. The friend wasn’t in town. It was just a simple cover. He pulled the Champagne he’d hidden in the back of the fridge out, and plunged it into the ice bucket. Jess started to come down the stairs and he quickly stood in front of his surprise. “Ready?” she inquired. “Yes, and no.” he answered, a sly smile spreading across his face until it crinkled his eyes and turned mischievous. She paused, curious. “What do you mean?” He reached into his pocket. “Well, first you have to answer a question…”