Today is the kind of day that we’ve both anxiously anticipated for the past few months; a warm, sunny day. For most of the morning, Julie and I have enjoyed sitting on our patio, listening to Ray LaMontagne Radio, and catching a few rays of sunshine laced with healthy doses of vitamin D. It is just the two of us; enjoying the solitude and each other. It is our special place. As I sit in my chair with the warm sunshine on my face and sweet music in my ears, I close my eyes and drift back to a time over forty years ago, when I first started dating the wonderful lady who at this exact moment sits in a chair facing me; her face turned toward the sun with her eyes closed, and her bare feet propped up on the edge of my seat.
In our early days together, I remember how much effort I had to make to find the time and space for the two of us to be alone; I had no intentions of sharing Julie with anyone—although eventually I realized that fulfilling that desire was nearly impossible. It was hard to do in the midst of our two families and the only time we truly were together and alone was on our date nights. Even then, at a restaurant or movie we were still surrounded by people. So it was in my car that we were led to our secret special place.
After dinner and a movie and once we had arrived back in town, we still had a couple of hours to spend before curfew—not the local town curfew, but the parent mandated kind—and rather than go home early, we often retreated to a place out in the country; the location didn’t matter, as long as we were alone. We would head out-of-town in any direction and find a deserted gravel road to drive down and then occasionally I would discover an open dirt driveway that led through a fence and out into a farmer’s field. I didn’t ask the farmer, but I was sure he wouldn’t mind. Once the car was in a good position—facing the escape route where we had entered—I would park and turn off the engine. After we agreed on the music—John Denver, Neil Diamond, or The Beach Boys—I would plug-in the eight-track and the mood was set.
I recall one particular night—and this was one of many like it—when I retrieved a blanket from the trunk, spread it out onto the hood of my car, and the two of us climbed up and sat next to each other as we leaned back on the windshield and stared at the moon and stars filling the night sky above. There we were, on the hood of my ’66 Chevy, listening to our favorite music playing softly in the background; enjoying one another’s company. The summer nights were warm, but the occasional cool breeze would rustle our hair and create goose bumps on our arms—the chilly feeling intensified due to our sunburns and skimpy summer clothes—causing Julie to scoot just a little bit closer to me; her head tucked inside my arm and against my chest in order to stay warm. I can still smell her hair and perfume. In those moments it was just us, and my wish of sharing her with no one else—other than God and the stars above—was fulfilled. We were in our secret special place.
I have been so blessed to have such a good friend for so many years. These days, even with the kids grown up and gone, I still have to work to find the time and space for us to be alone; but today, even if only for a couple of hours, I’ve won. We are once again in our secret special place; and it is good.