Driving leisurely up the New England coast, windows down, left arm stretched out with my hand swimming in the chilly wind like a dolphin catching waves.
Rest just seems to surround us on every side. Same with views that beckon, enticing us to pull over and wander and breathe in all the new and only imagined. The crisp, salty, Fall-filled air is tickling my nose, as sights I’ve only dreamed about or seen in photographs dazzle my eyes.
I’m convinced this must be what Heaven is like. At least my heaven, anyway. We’d traveled to our fair share of places in these United States, but this one is topping them all. And we’ve only been here a few hours.
Almost immediately, I catch myself imagining the life I could have here. Minus the freezing temps and snow for days, of course. The coastal, cedar shake cottage right in the heart of some sweet town. Or maybe a place further out, with some room to spread our wings, learn to garden and make and grow. Either way, it’d definitely be a fixer upper to make our very own.
Because this place just feels like home right now. Even to this Florida girl, born and bred. The people feel like my people. The pace, definitely my pace. Churches and history and the smell of salt air; plus artists, photographers, a pristine coastline, plenty of room to roam, and both evergreens and changing trees in all their glory, fill this rock lined terrain, punctuating nearly every scene my eyes fall upon.
It’s all every bit of what I’d hoped to love about Maine.
There’s one sharing in all this, too. Riding shot gun in my dream come true. Though I’d have never described him as the man of my dreams when I first laid eyes on him, even as inexplicably drawn to him as I was on that dance floor way back when! Yet, he’s become that and way more over these twenty-five years of marriage. And I’m grateful for that and so very much more on this day and this very trip celebrating our life so far!
In fact, driving here with him now, in the quiet comfort and ease that’s seemed to seep into our union over the last few
years hours, has me able to grasp, even if only barely, stories of long married couples often interviewed in specials and magazines. The easy banter, knowing glances, completed sentences, teasing tones and, of course, a little of [our] signature bickering because we both know we’re right! (Although it’s usually him because if it’s me, he won’t admit it.)
This isn’t always our usual way, though. Not day to day. We annoy and nag like most couples. But this day, this trip, we’ve determined to be intentional. Set tones and find balance. Meet in the middle of travel wishes, must do’s, and want to’s. An almost silent agreement to allow each other to just be. Be in the moment. Be all in. Be connected, yet separate. Be a perfectly imperfect couple. Be human. Two human beings, not human doings. And, for what it’s worth, I so wish we’d have learned this a long time ago!
With no real agenda other than an intent to enjoy this place and each other, plus a bit of restful inspiration. And this intention all just naturally seems to become a thing in itself, as we ease fairly quickly into taking the whole experience in. This long anticipated destination and milestone.
Because, for us, twenty-five years of marriage has not come without a fight. A bare knuckles, knock you down, get up again only to be beaten down kind of fight. Sure, there was often joy, enough to usually override the fight, but not always. Some seasons felt like the fight would win and one of us would run. [See below]
But we didn’t. And I can’t help seeing this trip now as a sort of reward for staying. For sticking it out through all the bad and all the worse.
I know I’m sentimental this way, though. Expectations run wildly extra in me. Same with chasing dreams and a bit of drama, too. I also know it takes two to want this kinda thing. Actually, I believe it takes three, because we’d never have gotten to this day without our Creator and Sustainer. Our merciful, gracious, and faithful life giver and Savior.
And I’ve been aware of this all along, but keep growing more and more grateful for it. And today, it’s near palpable. This feeling of peace, thankfulness, and reward. And as God’s beautiful creation called Maine takes over my senses, it becomes clear as day that all good and perfect gifts really are from above.
Our beginning feels way too unsuited for such a middle, however. It was all so unplanned. Passionate. Rash. Quickly chosen. Bordering way more on a sense of responsibility than love. Yet, not only did a true love grow over time, but also a deep, abiding, and real friendship developed and continues to sustain us in all the days leading up to this day… when my best friend in all the world is sharing dreams and scenes from *heaven* beside me.
Only a Big, Amazing, God can do that after the start – and numerous stalls – we’ve had.
And as the days of this trip pass on by, one good moment seems to always be followed up by an even better one, and a slight perma-grin begins to attach itself to our collective faces. And my man starts asking me to pinch him because he, “…certainly must be dreaming… or [has] actually already died and this was heaven.”
And I knew I’d been feeling similarly, but the confirmation on his end was a definite bonus. Finally, after days of pure gold and more pleasure, he starts saying how, “…one of us might really be dying because it’s all to good to be anything else.”
Ha! We kid. Mostly. 😜
Yet, this becomes our mantra of sorts throughout the nearly two weeks that follow. Something to make sense of this *dream* we’re both experiencing. And, you know, I’m not entirely sure why it all feels so perfect this trip. There are moments of imperfection happening, to be sure, since we’re still humans simply being, same as everyone we come in contact with. All of us perfectly imperfect people, living and being in this perfectly imperfect world. Even if we are all in heavenly Maine.
Because it’s pretty darn close to perfect, if you ask me.
Maybe all these good feelings are just because of the last few years, though? Since illness, heartbreak, loss, and frightening circumstances peppered many months, turned years, often sweeping over and leaving us unbalanced or fully exhausted. Or, maybe it’s only a perspective reached after real world overtakes? Or, maybe it’s simply just where we are in life right now, empty nesters trying to find what’s next? Whatever it is, in this moment, I’d love this feeling to never end.
Unfortunately, life isn’t lived on these mountaintops, is it? These experiences simply exist to sustain us when the valley eventually beckons us back home and contains us.
But I determine not to think about that now. Because my now is happening before my eyes and I don’t want to miss a moment of this dream come true that also feels like the birth of something new.
See, charming town after eclectic city after quaint fishing village after the next delightful spot, seems to dot this coastline and I now know why so many people flock here for life and inspiration. There’s a whole interior too, calling out to be explored, but unfortunately that will have to wait until another day.
Like maybe next year!
Because, truly, my heart has been awakened here. My curiosity, peaked. My soul, filled. Staring at my main man, who really is more suited to a wilder, quieter, do it yourself kinda life, I feel in my bones a knowing of sorts. THIS is our future. This place and pace and piece of paradise brings a peace to us collectively and separately and it just might be where we’re meant to embrace much of the next twenty-five or so years of this life we’ve carved out together.
I know he knows it, too, even if he’s not ready to admit it. How? Because, after twenty-five years together, I can now finally *read* my Maine Man’s ruggedly handsome mug🧔♂️🥰🦞 (At least I hope that’s what it’s saying! I mean, how could it not, right?!? This place is heaven, after all😉)
So, here’s to Maine and Twenty-five more years of being Us 🥂
P.S. Read here for scenes from this time last year. Btw, the second picture has not only made it out of the closet, but onto our dresser❤️