I had only been in France a few weeks when he said we should climb the mountain. Sure, why not start with a mountain?!!! Being from Minnesota, I did not have my mountain legs yet. But nothing about this trip, this move, this life change, would have occurred if I had been stuck on “maybe,” so I said yes – of course I said yes! In my head though, I had visions of a long stroll, with lovely views…almost a picnic for the senses really… Reality unpacked it’s bags within the first few steps and I knew this was nothing like I had imagined. My heart was pumping faster. I could feel every rock beneath my Vans. My lungs hit my ribs with every breath. I had never climbed a mountain. I had my doubts that I would finish this one. The last big hill I had climbed was in the 3rd grade. Pike’s Peak. We had gone on a field trip from Washington Elementary. I had a sack lunch – a peanut butter sandwich and a warm Orange Crush soda. We raced down the steep hill just before lunch. Dirt flying everywhere. I remember that I made it back up. It seemed straight up. Dirt and gravel everywhere, making clouds as we raced – pumping arms and legs and grabbing that bit of grass just at the top edge and pulling ourselves up. Muscle memory…that’s it – that’s what would save me. I had heard of this – yes, muscle memory… soon now my legs would remember how I made it up that hill… my muscle memory would kick in and I would climb with ease. Nothing. My thighs remembered nothing. I struggled with each step. It would be beautiful he said, at the top. For some reason I believed him and kept climbing. My nose ran, my lungs were exploding, my thighs were pulsing and my feet – my poor Van covered feet… At one point he said, “those berries are poisonous…” My first thought was “give me a handful.” I kept climbing. I tried to think of a song to keep my body in motion. Bruce Springsteen – yes, Bruce. He could keep me moving. “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run…” I repeated it over and over in my head to drown out my own heart beat. I followed him step for step. I trusted him. I had no muscle memory of that. I loved him. I had no muscle memory of that. This was all new. We reached the top. Everything was quiet. Everything was beautiful. More than I had ever imagined. He was right. And I knew I could do this. I could do anything. I could love him. I could heart pounding love him. I could breathlessly love him. I could love him mountain big…and I do. Tomorrow it is his birthday. I think about all the days in between. Everything that had to happen on each of those days to bring us together, and I am truly amazed. I am “standing on top of a mountain” amazed. This love, in my every muscle, my entire being, is unforgettable.
Happy Birthday Dominique!