Over the Hills and Far Away: For Robert

It’s not Valentine’s Day. It’s not our anniversary. It’s not even your birthday. But today you’re everywhere to me. Today I am away from home, for a short 24 hours, but I can’t go anywhere without stunning reminders of you to follow me, to engulf me, to chase and caress me.

I start my journey to Atlanta with the sun through the windows and Led Zeppelin to open the show. As I drive east, I gaze at the openness of our spot on this earth, and let my eyes wander over the road that we have traveled on together so many times before. The landmarks are entirely familiar this close to home, and I smile as I think about all of the times in the past we have comes this way, me in the passenger seat and you at the wheel.

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I cross the bridge in Scottsboro just before 1-40 and the sun is high and warm and the sky is bright blue and I remember the time we caravaned with some local car friends for a day of driving and you rode with our friend Jason on the way home so you could take some pictures of me driving the Evo.

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I loved that day, and I love the Evo, and I loved having a chance to reflect on that memory. It makes me yearn for summer, especially on a day like today where the temperature is low and unsettling. I reflect on how lucky I am to be able to leave the Evo safe in the garage for this trip I am taking for work, and instead drive a very safe and comfortable X5 that you surprised me with. An X5 that you paid for, service, and take care of for me on a daily basis. I don’t even worry as I plug along for the next 3 hours.

I drove over the bridge and through Henegar and looked at all of the farms and houses close to the road. I smiled as I saw cows and thought of us making cow sounds; you have the best cow accent. Mine isn’t good at all. You always have such good impersonations of anything and everything you mimic. You can make me laugh out loud even when you’re not with me!

My journey takes me further east toward Summerville, and I see signs for Little River Canyon. I think about the day we drove with a group of car friends to Little River Canyon for a fun cruise. Was it the same day the above picture was taken? I remember it was SO hot, and I was miserable in a pair of jeans and whined to you a lot that afternoon, but you never got upset at me and you never stopped having fun. Even when I hung all over you, a sticky, whiny mess, you would sweetly kiss me and tell me “Okay, we’ll go soon”. My hero.

As I get close to Summerville, I think about your kindness, and your never-ending quest to make me happy. I think about the day you drove us to Summerville to check out a 1969 Corvette Stingray. I had a pipe dream, but you never once made it feel like that. It was real, and meaningful and you cultivated that. You created this safe universe for my hopes and dreams and stretched your fibers out as far as they could stretch and encouraged me to explore and pursue. It was a pretty morning on a weekend during my heightened phase of trying to find a 69 corvette to buy when you urged us to go look at one for sale in Summerville. I was excited at the prospect, but really just enjoyed spending the day driving 2 hours out of the way to go check out a car with you. Today I even drove right past the street that the people lived on and wondered, briefly, what our lives would be like now if we had actually bought a 69 corvette. I wouldn’t be any happier than I am right now.

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As I drove to the intersection in the middle of the town, I pass “our” Subway. It’s the place we usually stop and eat when driving to Atlanta for whatever reason. Even though we have stopped there a dozen times, I think about the weekend we drove up for Ashley and Brett’s wedding and I was so sick and miserable but put on my stubborn pants and insisted we go. We stopped at that Subway to eat lunch, and even though it didn’t make me feel better, you didn’t let that get you down. You took care of me the entire night, and didn’t make me feel bad for being a bad date, even though we didn’t even get to dance to ONE song because I was too sick to stand up from the table. I did manage to pose for one killer picture of us though.

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Coming to Atlanta is filled with an endless wave of nostalgia and pangs of loneliness. I think about our wedding weekend, and all the weekends leading up to our wedding, driving back and forth from visiting with vendors and friends. How many pounds of stuff did the battle wagon cart over the AL/GA line for us?

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I think about the Braves games, and seeing Soundgarden on a WEDNESDAY night this past summer.

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We left work early to drive there, stood in line waiting for the doors to open, then rushed to the pit where we watched the show of a lifetime at the Tabernacle, and then drove HOME. Well, you drove home. I promptly did what I do best when co-piloting for you, and I passed out, waking up only as we neared the house. I’m sorry I always do that to you, I just can’t HELP IT.

I reflected on all of the GA3s Christmas parties we’ve driven in for, and how the last 3 years we have taken a different car, and how funny it would be if that happened next Christmas too (that we took something new). I wouldn’t put it past you, love.

When I get on 75 south, it isn’t too long before I pass the Acworth/Glade Road exit, and I will never not think about the times we towed your VR-4 to see David Ford all the way from Prattville. I thought that was the longest drive in history, Prattville to North Atlanta. We were broke kids then, living off of your parents’ patience and good graces to help us out when we needed it most. I know it was during this time that you developed your craft of working on cars and being self sufficient, because I know you remember vividly a time when you were not, and how much you hated feeling helpless. I also remember the Christmas that you actually received cash from you grandparents (the one and only time to date!) and you spent it on a water pump for my VR-4’s 60k service so that I could have a way to get around. You spent YOUR Christmas money on ME before we were bound by matrimony. Who were you?

Finally, I arrive at my beautiful destination in the early evening, and this is the most nostalgic moment so far, because the hotel I pull up to is the same hotel we stayed at for our wedding weekend. When we were here, it was called, “The Mansion”, it’s now called “The Mandarin Oriental” but it’s still as grand and lovely as ever. It feels against the grain to be here without you. I remember all of the wonderful moments we had together that weekend, and those thoughts and emotions are still fresh and fluid now. Walking through the lobby takes me instantly back to the moment we walked in from the actual wedding, where I was still in my wedding dress, carrying my bouquet in my hand, feeling like a million bucks, holding your hand.

It’s easy to admit, that most every day since then, the millionaire feeling hasn’t gone away. You are positively the best part of my life. When I’m at work, I can’t wait to come home to be with you. I still get the feeling I had when we lived 800 miles away when I think about seeing you. James Carr says it best:

These arms of mine
They are lonely
Lonely and feeling blue
These arms of mine
They are yearning
Yearning from wanting you
And if you would let them hold you
Oh how grateful I will be

Listen to that and dance with me. When I hear it, I’m instantly lost on your shoulder, holding your hands, lost in the music, lost on you.

I thought a lot today about my identity, and felt anxious when I think about being forced outside of our shell to be ME without you (like today). Outside of the safe haven you provide, and the comfort I always have in your presence. It’s almost as if I don’t know how to be okay without you there. And I think…I think maybe that’s okay to admit. I feel like a good marriage, a passionate and unyielding relationship like we have, leaves that wake behind it. The shaky and choppy awkwardness of the individual becomes a smooth and confident vessel when paired with their counterpart. And when together, it only knows how to move in that way; forward and strong. And if that’s my curse, to be weakened without you, then I’ll take it. I’ll take it every day that I’m alive on this earth and thank God and my lucky stars that my only curse is born of my greatest attribute. I am your wife, your friend, yours, and you are mine. My everything.

I love you all my days. You are whatever the moon as always meant, and whatever the sun will always sing, is you.

1 Comment

  1. Lots of happy memories in what seems like just a short time. I can’t wait to see what the next rest-of-our-lives holds. I love you.

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