As we sleepily curled close to each other, he took my hand in both of his and clasped it against his chest. I could feel the beats of his heart. I added my other to the web of fingers against his skin. Grasping his hand with both of mine seemed entirely natural now.
“You know, the first time you shook my hand, I knew then that you were worth discovering.” He whispered so close to my face that I again felt his breath against me.
“‘Discovering?’ Like Christopher Columbus?” The analogy created a distinct path of history in my mind, and I imagined the conquering of native people. Was this weekend his attempt to try to conquer me? I found it ironic since my intention towards him the first time we shook hands was to control the situation with him. Assured that was not his intent, he laughed at my question.
“No, discovering you, like a new galaxy a million light years away and suddenly I have the perfect telescope to view it up close, next to me.” Well, crap, his brilliant optimism continued to overwhelm me and the smile that escaped unguarded let him know how much his perspective brightened my own section of the cosmos. How could my universe be so altered in one weekend?
“Yep. I see those stars expanding, broadening, and us with them. I don’t ever want to stop exploring them and learning about them and gazing upon them.” He kissed me softly every time he said, ‘them,’ and I guessed he really meant me. Who knew the Lumberjack could be so poetic?
I considered how patched together the pair of us entered this weekend, broken, damaged, and ripe for the healing. “It might be as involved as landing on a comet.”
“Then I’m not worried.”
He smiled and kissed me again, and the unspoken affirmative became my most favorite mannerism of his, especially when coupled with the a seal of approval from those lips.
The blankets were completely up to my neck just the way I liked them, with just my hands and face visible, but more than a foot of his chest and face remained exposed.
“Are you cold?” I wondered.
“No. Aren’t you hot under there?” I smiled wickedly, and the blankets hid the movement of my hips confirming the alternative answer to his question, even though I knew what he really meant. He stroked my hair. Nothing around me felt too hot or too cold, too stifling or too exposed, too rushed or too tired. The ambiance around his home calmed me, the softness under his blankets warmed me, his touch melted me, and the way he maneuvered our bodies together never made me question how rapidly our relationship was developing. He waited a decade for this, and the fact that he waited for me, almost made me teary. Every gesture and kindness he offered to me confirmed that being open to new experiences revealed itself as the clearest, most grown-up, wonderful choice I ever made. This pace seemed perfect. He continued to pull his large hands through my clean hair. His touch felt even better than the shower felt.
“Today on the drive out of the mountains as you stroked my hair, you calmed me and soothed me, and for almost an hour I could not get over how miraculous getting to know you has become. You know, you said that to me: that what’s inside of me might be miraculous, and it occurred to me that you’re the first person who really bothered to look.”
I realized he was awake for the drive. He hardly moved in the last forty-five minutes of our return trip. “I thought you were asleep today while I was driving.”
“Nope. I just decided to relax, to reflect about the way in which you listened and responded and supported me. And you peppered me with questions, but you were right about opening a door to you. Taking my hand that day in the office broke me open and I don’t ever want to spend another day without holding these hands. You know they have mystical properties, right?”
“No, I did not know that. How did you come to that conclusion?”
“Every time your hands neared me this weekend, you awoke something in me I didn’t even know was still there. Whether you were sliding matches into my pocket, holding my arm when that deer ran in front of us, or when you rested your hand on my feet during the sunset, I want that sensation from you constantly, even if it simply means falling asleep with your hands in mine.”
Wow. So this is what the right man looks like. I kissed his closed fist and touched him whenever I wanted him to know how sincerely he affected me.
Six weeks later, we clasped our hands as we exchanged vows in front of the fireplace downstairs. He kept his hands well occupied and in addition to the other business projects he tackled during the week. During our first winter, my husband designed a cabin for his piece of land in the mountains. It belonged to us both and we would spend nearly every weekend of every summer in its cozy embrace, but he still always called it mine.
The following summer, we spent our weekends building it, mostly with his hands, and a little help from both of mine. And every once in awhile, just for fun, on a moonless night, we’d pull out the tent and recreate our first night together.
But that night in his arms, in his bed, in his home, and every night that he was by my side, I slept peacefully, safely, and contentedly. “I love you, too, Daniel.”
~ FIN ~