Little bits of memory

Family Photos, November 2011

I can still remember the beginning. That nervous anticipation during those first few long drives to visit Hank, my hands tapping on the steering wheel, my eyes in the rear view mirror checking and rechecking to see if I still looked alright. It was the beginning of our relationship and we lived two and a half hours apart, so I would often find myself making the trek from Phoenix, up the I-17 and into the mountains. That very first drive up is still so fresh in my mind; the Jets to Brazil I had on the stereo, my cracked window, the fresh August air that evening, and me, trying to relax when I was so, so nervous. It almost seemed too good to be true- everything was falling slowly into place, somehow. And then, after talking for hours and hours every night for weeks, writing so many letters back and forth, and finally going on our first date, Hank had invited me up to visit him in his little town. 

It's strange to go back to the beginning of us. It will be eight years this summer and parts of it seem so far away, and yet other moments I can remember in such crisp detail. If I think back I can still see Hank's first date outfit- his jeans, his American Nightmare hoodie, those Vans. I can immediately recall a handful of mornings waking up with him to the Weakerthans he set for our alarm, tangled blankets and tattooed limbs. I can remember the night Hank asked me to marry him, the way the stars shined so, so brightly in that clear February night, the way my breath blew out like smoke and our voices echoed in the empty square. I think back to our first apartment, the smell of new paint and cardboard boxes, and our second, the smell of fresh cut grass through the open windows. I can go back to our wedding day and remember looking down the aisle at Hank through the yellow and the white and all of our family and friends, all the way to the very end, to him waiting there for me. And I can see him when Henry was born, joy filling every corner of his face.

Memories are funny things. They change over time, they shift, they adapt. We keep what we want, small segments of our days, and the rest dissipates into a hazy fog. I hold tight to the things I want to remember- I take a second and try to capture it, all of it. My memories often feel so cloudy, floating in my mind, but then I'll be reminded of something, and one crystal clear moment will bob to the top, up and down, little bits and pieces becoming more clear.  With Hank I have eight years of these memories, good times and bad, trips and vacations and so much togetherness. My life has a distinct marker, a before and an after, and it's amazing to think about everywhere we've been, and to imagine everywhere we're going. And sometimes, when the weather is just right, I can crack my window, turn up the music, and I'm right back there again, 21-years-old at the very beginning.