Don't worry, this story has a happy ending, I promise.
It was a beautiful evening on Maui. We'd just been to a luau, and as we walked across a footbridge over a beautiful pool with a waterfall and glowing lights, he suddenly dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.
Technically, I didn't say no. I said "Not yet." I didn't think we were ready. I gave him a couple of great excuses, mainly the fact that we lived and worked in different states. It's a five hour drive from his place to mine, so we only see each other on weekends. At his place, at my place, or we meet somewhere in the middle. I thought it was important for us to know if we could live together before getting married, and living so far apart, we had no idea if we could stand each other for more than about a week at a time. I just felt like we should share a home before we shared the title of Mr. and Mrs.
He took it pretty well, for a guy who had just been turned down. He said, "OK, fine. But just so you know, I'm not asking you again. Next time, it's on you. And fair warning, you're gonna have to ask me twice. Because I'm gonna turn you down the first time, just so you know what it feels like."
I laughed, and immediately asked him to marry me. And he laughed back and said "Nope."
And since that day, we've just continued on, me waiting for the day that he decides to move to California, and he waiting for the day I give in and ask him to marry me.
A lot has happened since then. We've really gotten our money's worth out of our shared Verizon plan. We became godparents to a friend's children. I saved his mother's house from an illegal foreclosure perpetrated by one of the biggest banks in the country. He taught my daughter how to drive. And how to dive. And he made sure he never missed a dance recital or a play. I've done his taxes every year (and he keeps pretending he's going to pay me for it), and he's power washed my patio (without even the promise of money). I was by his side for every company Christmas party at the Elks Lodge in Brookings. I watched him stand up at a funeral and sweetly, poignantly and perfectly honor the co-worker who's last effort in life was to save my boyfriend's. He watched me stand in front of a thousand people on stage and declare that I was going to kiss George Thorogood if given the opportunity. We came up with a secret signal for party exit strategies. I started loading him up with sandwiches, not just for the drive back, but for the next 3 days of work. We each gained about 10 pounds. Maybe more. "Food just tastes better when I'm with you," he says. And I realized that after five years, he still whispers "I love you" in the middle of the night, whether he thinks I can hear him or not. And just like otters, we hold hands when we're sleeping. In five years, we haven't drifted away. We've gotten closer. We fall deeper in love every single day.
I realized, finally, after five years, that home does not mean my house. We make our home wherever we are. In the big house where I cook for him in California. At his little place high up on a mountain overlooking the place where the Chetco River meets the Pacific Ocean. We have made our home in my sister's old bedroom at my parent's house. In the little apartment over his sister's garage in Coos Bay. We have made our home in a hotel room in Bend while visiting his son Jesse. We have made our home at The Pinehurst Inn, far from tvs and cell reception, and in a makeshift tent at Fish Lake. In an old VW Westphalia parked outside a cabin up on Mount Hood. We are a family now, and our home is not four walls in a specific place. It is what we create every time we are together. It's a non-tangible thing that we have created together that requires the energy of two people who love each other the way we do.
A few weeks ago we created a little home in the tall grass on a hillside overlooking the beach near Brookings, snuggled in, just watching the waves in the bright afternoon sun. It was a sweet spot. We had a little bench carved out of an old tree, a bottle of red wine, and my dog was happier than I've ever seen him. I swear he was smiling.
Eddie never forgets to capture moments like these. He pulled out the camera, took a little panoramic video of the beach and us and the dog, and said life didn't get much better than this.
So that's when I made my move. Because I knew maybe it could get just a little better.
And of course he said yes. He was so excited that for one crazy moment he even said he'd take my last name (he came to his senses about an hour later).
People keep asking "So is he moving here? Are you moving there?"
Neither. We're keeping things just the way they are, because the way we see it, not only do we have two homes (my digs in the city, where he can do all his shopping, and his getaway at the beach), but we have managed to make ourselves at home wherever we happen to be. And things seem to be working pretty well just the way are.
I know it's a total cliche, but home really is where the heart is, and that's probably all the explanation today's playlist - or our marriage - really needs.
Check out the playlist directly at Grooveshark.
- Home - Jack Johnson
- Home - Philip Phillips
- Far From Home - Gabe Dixon Band
- You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To - Julie London
- Home (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
- Home - Michael Buble
- Two Of Us - Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
- Carry You Home - James Blunt
- Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Baby Come Home - Led Zeppelin
- I'm Going Home - Charlie Musselwhite
- Home Is Where The Heart Is - McFly
- Come Home - James
- Bring It On Home - UB40
- Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
- I'm Going Home - Jack White & Friends
- Home Is Where The Heart Is - John Butler Trio
- Come Home - One Republic
- Take The Long Way Home - Supertramp
- Home - Zero 7
She's often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80's, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org).