Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 14, 1985: To the Lake (part 2)

I had been dating Peter about a month when I invited him to my Happy Place: our family’s rustic lake cabin in northern Minnesota. On the drive north, we had a long conversation about our relationship. Meanwhile, I pictured a quiet, romantic weekend of fishing, walking in the woods, relaxing, and listening to lovely loon sounds. His version included carefree gamboling and skinny dipping.

We were both in for a surprise.

As we arrived at the cabin, so did two of my brothers and their families! Oops. There went the quiet, and the, um, gamboling. We all laughed and agreed to make the best of it. We divvied up the three bedrooms (none with any real privacy), and a couple of kids slept outside in a tent. Peter and my sisters-in-law said they would take turns cooking for everyone. Dinner was loud and chaotic, as was the after-dinner conversation.

At about 10 o’clock, Peter whispered, “Let’s go sit on the dock.” It was a clear night, and in the darkness the Milky Way arched across the sky. We could hear small animals splashing at the water’s edge, and from time to time a fish would jump. A light breeze kept most of the mosquitoes at bay.

Peter sat behind me and pulled my shoulders so I was leaning back against him. He returned to the subject of the day. “I’ve been looking for someone for a long time,” he said, and then drew on a figure of speech (he may have used a washing machine as his metaphor; I don’t remember). “I’m a good shopper; I do a lot of research and when I find the model that has everything I’m looking for, I know it. I don’t have to keep looking.” He went on to say he’d been dating lots of women, looking for the right one. “Sometimes I could tell before I was in the door that this wasn’t a woman I wanted to spend even one evening with. But you have everything I’ve been looking for. You are the one.” He took a deep breath and said very deliberately, so I would know he was serious,


I let the moment sink in for a long while. Then I told him I couldn’t answer yet. I had not been looking. I needed time—not just to get to know him, but to know myself in combination with him. I said he should ask me again in the fall—if we were still together. He asked what I meant. I said that with one exception, my previous relationships had not lasted that long, so I had trouble comprehending this rapid commitment. If we were still together by September, then it would make sense to talk about marriage.

He knew better than to press for a different answer. We looked at the stars and drank in the sounds until the mosquitoes began to bite. Then we went inside and won a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.

There will be more to this story. Meanwhile, I wish to note that these photos are not mine.


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