January 10, 2011

Chainsaws and Platinum

If love stories make you nauseous, beware.

I have gotten hooked on a cooking/homeschooling/home-and-gardening/photography/crafting blog that happens to be written by a gal who can write.  It is basically my online dreamworld.  The Pioneer Woman.  Check it out.

The Pioneer Woman wrote a long series of posts, at one point, about how she met and fell in love with her cowboy husband.  It is called "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels," and it is now a published book.  I have not read the whole thing, but it has caused me to think back and smile on my own love story.  I, too, fell in love with a country boy, and I, too, can remember the day.
A boy that I had met on Spring Break drove from Arkansas to Michigan in his old Ford F150 pickup, because I needed a ride to Memphis for our summer job.  On our way south to Memphis, we stopped at his mother's home in Arkansas to get his things for the summer.  It was May, 2001.  I was 20, and he was 21.  We were heading into our senior years of college.  I still had soccer legs and he still had bare patches in his beard.  We had only had one conversation in person.

When we finally reached the farm that his ancestors had homesteaded by covered wagon, it was well after dark.  After briefly meeting what would become my mother-in-law (in her pajamas), I was put up for the night in his childhood bedroom - which was then still covered with the graffiti of a 7th-grade boy, but is now full of beds and toys for our kids.  I woke too late for farm life the next morning, as the sun was already shining brightly through the curtains.  After pulling on my jeans, I headed out into the house, which I could see by the light of day was unlike anywhere I had ever been.  Vines and trees and flowers were painted up and down the walls.  Old trinkets from generations long buried were hanging on little nails everywhere, crowded into antique hutches, and suspended from the ceilings.  There was a second-story porch accessible from a nearby room, the railing of which I leaned over to smell the rugged smells of the morning.

That's when I heard the Ford F150 grinding its way up Doe Run Trail, around the bend, and up the hill to the house.  Daniel had been up for some time, apparently, long enough at least to have cut down a tree for his mother before leaving for the summer.  He did not see me on the porch.  He did not know that I was watching him as he jumped down from his truck, shirtless in his Carhartt overalls.  He did not know that I was watching him as he grabbed his chainsaw from the truck bed, nor did he know that I was watching him as he walked to the house, chainsaw over his shoulder, birds chirping, the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen.  He did not know that I had overheard his mother and grandmother murmuring about the two of us as they shuffled around in their slippers downstairs.  He did not know that at that moment, my ears were flush and my heart was pounding and it was either his shirtless shoulders or it was love.  As it turns out, it was both.

One week later he would kiss me on the practice field at the University Of Memphis campus (our after-work courting location).  Six weeks after that he would propose to me on a dock in Waldoxy State Park, Mississippi.  A few days later he would pay cash for a $250 platinum diamond ring in downtown Memphis - on his lunch break.  (That figure, by the way, is not a typo.)

The following May, one year after his studly strut to the house with his chainsaw, there were tears in his eyes as my dad walked me down a black-and-white tiled isle.  The next 10 minutes were a blur.  I couldn't cry for the giant smile plastered to my face.  We vowed and we prayed and we kissed and I whispered into his ear, "We're married."

There is a prequel to the story - about how we first met, and how when I first heard his last name spoken aloud my tummy flip-flopped as if "Rupp" had been my name in a dream or, if I believed in such things, another life.  The story is, of course, still being written, and I fall in love with this man more and more every year.  But I will never forget that morning in May when I knew that my journey had ended, or rather had just begun, and I had at long last come home.

I love you, Daniel Rupp (and you went shirtless on purpose that morning, didn't you!)