We had been driving down the dusty dirt road in our clunky lemon of a car for the last twenty minutes. I had a map sprawled across my lap, legs stretched out the open window as green fields rolled by the tips of my white boat shoes. I kept saying, to him and myself, “I’m sure we made the right turn. It all looks right…”, trailing off every time to tap the creased paper with my pencil.
He confidently drove on, as if he knew exactly where he was going even though we were utterly lost, I was sure of it. Rows upon rows of trees whipped past us as dusty sand was tossed carelessly from our back wheels. He put his hand behind my head and patted, “Relax my girl. We’ll get there.” and he smiled that smile that melted my heart every time.
I sighed and looked ahead down the long sandy dirt road, my heart racing and my mind turning over and over. In the distance, I saw it. A big wooden gate. I pulled my legs down from the window and threw the map in the backseat. I grabbed his arm and half-shouted at him, “We’re here! It’s here!” and he grinned from ear to ear. I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He applied pressure to the brakes and moved the lemon over to the side of the road – half in the grass, half on the dirt.
“What..? What are you doing?”, I gaped at him, hands dropping into my lap.
“I just wanted to take a moment, you and me. I want to hold your hands and kiss you and make sure you’re ready for this.”, he grabbed my hands from my lap with one hand and placed the other beneath my chin, lifting my wide eyes up to meet his.
“I’m so ready! Aren’t you?”, my voice quaked as I asked.
He moved forward and locked his lips around mine, “I love you… so much!”, he whispered the “so much” gently.
I grabbed his arm, “I love you too… so much!”, and I snuggled my head against his neck, my long hair falling about his chest and arms, the smell of strawberries and almonds swirling around us both.
He nodded and said, “Well, then let’s go, shall we?” and we both straightened as the car rumbled back to movement down the last few feet of dusty road.
We stopped at the large gate before us and both ejected from the car in a burst. Our doors squeaked and we ran to the front of the car. Delicate carvings made their way up the poles holding the gate, twisting clear around them. Atop the poles sat an intricate sign decorated with the same carvings that read, “Everyone belongs to everyone else” and upon reading it, he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tight to his body. I kissed his neck and jaw, barely able to contain my excitement. He seemed more reserved.
He released me after a moment and walked forward to unclasp the large gate and as he placed his hand on the soft wood, I wrapped my arms around him from behind and whispered, “Today is the day and I’ve never loved you more!” and he let out a large breath as he lifted the black-colored metal off its hinge.
The gate swung open, opening its welcoming arms to this couple in love.
I squeed loudly and cheerfully made her way back to the car, gracefully dancing a jig along the way. He raised his chin, pushed his shoulders back and his chest out and walked back to the car composed. The doors squeaked as they closed and the lemon sputtered to start through the gate.
Tall green trees surrounded them on each side, branches reaching far out above them. The dust continued to fly up behind them and they both sat high on the edge of their seats, searching the seclusion for signs of life. Smoke rose up from the trees above them and they knew they must be close.
Ten minutes passed before they came upon a clearing in the trees where a small grouping of cars were parked. Then, they saw it. The huge cabin surrounded by even more of the same trees. Dark logs laid on top of each other over and over again created the walls of the cabin, expanding upwards of three stories. A large porch wrapped around the entire building and as they pulled their rusty car around the circular dirt driveway to the door, four people emerged from the massive double doors separating us from them.
I opened the door quickly and sprang from the car in a burst. He sat unable to move. One by one, each of the four descended the stairs and wrapped their arms around me and I embraced them all with glee. A tall muscular man from the group walked around to the other side of the car and opened the car door. He reached his hand out, offering it to my lover and he emerged from the vehicle looking tense and awkward.
I ran over to him and took him by the hand, bringing him into the group which was now circling about us. An older lady with long graying hair smiled wildly at me and pointed her leathery finger towards the door. I nodded and the small girl in our group, hair red like the strawberries of my scented shampoo, frittered quickly to the door and quietly yelled into the house, “They’re here!” and you could hear the entire house come alive.
A stream of people came rushing out the front door and we were suddenly surrounded by twenty or thirty men and women, all in varying states of dress and ages. Hug after hug after hug, a thousand words barely heard or recognized, and then silence as the older lady made her way up the seven steps to the porch.
“It has been a long journey for our new sister and brother. Let them to their rooms and then we begin!”. The crowd began to disperse and the fiery-haired girl grabbed my hand and began to lead me towards the cabin. I grabbed my lover’s hand and he squeezed it hard. I kissed his cheek and whispered, “It’s going to be alright”, he nodded and looked ahead with determination.