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Monday, February 14, 2011

Memoir: Proposal

The heat covered us like a lead blanket, relentless and pondering. Sweat trickled down the small of our backs, leaving amoebas of moisture on our T-shirts and underarms.

"You're right," I said, "I admit it. A Virginia summer is way worse than an Arizona summer. Hands down."

He smiled, his eyes crinkling like a fan, "That kills you to say, doesn't it?"

"Well, yeah." I peeled my shirt away from my skin, a temporary release. "I mean, I know heat. But this humidity? Game over, man. You win."

"If you call that winning."  He swung the bucket of blackberries in his left hand.

I had insisted on berry-picking at a local farm. In July. When he grimaced and said, "Have you been outside?" I reminded him that it was twenty degrees warmer in Arizona. After all, toughness ran through my lizard veins, and my leathery, desert-rat skin would protect me from the supposed "elements."

"We'll go," he said. "It'll be miserable, but we'll go." He sighed, squeezed my hand, and added, "You're lucky I love you."

Indeed.

The berries were lush and bursting with juice, but in between the horseflies and the soupy air, we lasted all of ten minutes. We staggered up the rutted dirt road towards the parking lot. The Maple trees, heavy and verdant, provided temporary respite from the sun. I reached for his hand, and he shrugged it off. "Too hot," he grumbled.

I pouted. "Are you mad at me?" It was early in our relationship. I hadn't yet learned that heat and hunger suck the happy out of him, as deftly as a syringe.

"Why do you always ask that?"

Because I've been hurt. Because I'm afraid. "I don't know."

We walked, the silence as heavy as the air between us.

"Hold on," he said, heading towards the middle of the road.

"What are you doing?" I called.

"C'mere."  He perched on the balls of his feet. His hands were cupped, folded over something small and precious.

I peered in, as he opened his fingers like a ribbon. Inside, sat a small box turtle. "I always pick them up and move them to the side of the road."

"Really? Why?" I stared at the creature as it blinked in its somnolent haze.

He rubbed its shell gently, "It's just something I do. My dad taught me. They're slow and helpless, and I don't want them to get run over by cars."

I hugged him. "Too hot," he grumbled, but he returned my embrace. I held this man, the one that looks out for the turtles. 

And every time we stop by the side of a road to rescue a turtle, as we have done countless times in our marriage, I whisper, "I do." 


***
The Red Dress Club, in its quest for world domination, has begun a weekly memoir challenge, which posts each Tuesday. I'm giving it a go. The prompt is:

This week, we want you to imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.

I'm not sure why my five minutes ended up being this, but I let the writing flow the way it wanted to go.


Constructive criticism is welcome. I'm posting early, so this may evolve over the next few days.

37 comments:

June said...

Beautiful.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Beautiful story and a good man you have! Happy Valentines Day!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Really great story - perfect for today. I love the symbolism w/ the turtle.

ModernMom said...

Beautiful! Happy Valentine's Day!

clearness said...

This is nice. I love it.


And I read next weeks assignment and it breaks my heart. Can't wait to see what you pick.

tsonodablog said...

So so sweet. And lovely for Valentines Day. And just perfect for the Memoirs trdc. Beautifully written!

(Florida) Girl said...

Lovely. Add that to the sour patch kids and he's got me won over. ;) (I read your twitter.)

Happy V-day.

Kim said...

A lovely glimpse. You really SHOULD use this as a proposal for your memoir!

Jessica said...

Beautiful, your descriptions could not be more vivid. I was right there with you. So well done.

mommylebron said...

Oh, wow, that was perfect! I am very intimated by this prompt, I haven't decided whether or not I 'll try it.

tulpen said...

I've always saved Turtles too.

I have a tattoo of one ya know.

Also? Will be joining this memoir thing...

Beth Zimmerman said...

How beautiful! That is precious! And your writing talent is really blossoming!

Ash said...

Oh my. That's the sweetest. The fact that your man saves turtles says all I need to know about his character.

Oh, and the fact that he married you. Obviously caring AND smart.

Very well done.

formerlyonlyamovie said...

Freaking brilliant.

And I'm with my sis (tulpen to you) - may have to join in on this memoir thing.

(tho maybe not this week).

xoxo

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

My husband gets way to hot for hand holding and hugs too. I appreciated (maybe empathized with) that part.

Cheryl said...

I love this. You know what I really loved about it (aside from how beyond sweet this is)? It didn't seem forced. It flowed absolutely naturally. I'd love your fiction to be this effortless - I so know you can do it.

Maija's Mommy said...

I LOVE how you captured how much you love him, yet with an underlying uncertainty because it is still so early in the relationship. I can see you picking blueberries and can feel your love for him when he rescues the turtle.

So so so very well done!

Erin said...

I am in love with this. In fact? it may be one of my favorite things you've ever written.

When I lived in New Orleans, I thrice rescued turtles that were crossing River Road, which runs parallel to the Mississippi River. Except the ones I rescued were huge, and one peed all over me when I picked him up....

Love it, Nancy...omg....

noisycolorfullively said...

sweetness. The kind of story I love to read.

Hot, sticky. Too hot to touch. Too steamy not to. That's home to me :) sigh... I can't wait for July.

Erin said...

I so love this, reminds and totally brings me back to some small Michigan roads in the summer! The amount of turtles we would see was overwhelming! I wish I could have saved everyone of those turtles!

I love that your husband saves them and that you love him so!

Elaine A. said...

The fact that he went anyway proved that he already loved you. I picked blueberries with the kids here last June. That means I love them very much too, by the way... ;)

This is lovely, so nice to read...

moveovermarypoppins.com said...

There is rare magic in a man who stops for turtles.

What a wonderful memory, full of thick air and horseflies and loveliness!

Pamela said...

This story grabbed at my heart all the way down to my toes. Very unexpected and generous. Love!

Megan B. said...

Great writing. Your sons would see so much from this story- examples of your love and an example of the kind of man their father is.

whispatory said...

What I thought was so strong about this piece was that you captured so well how perfect people are when they are too hot (in his case) to be anything else other than 100% themselves. Having grown up in DC I thought that this piece felt like, and read like the weather, it was quiet, heavy like the air gets in that humidity and yet whimisical.

MiMi said...

Just beautiful.

mama-face said...

OH Nancy...this is wonderful.

Nothing to do with anything, just 3 ways I can relate: Virginia heat is much hotter than AZ. I know this from experience. AND I'm always asking my husband if he's mad at me. I don't know why I do this. I don't think he's ever really been mad at me in all our 29 years together!! AND I had pet turtles, those little kind, when I lived in VA as a kid. :)

I LOVE LOVE this story. SO good.

Brooke said...

I've spent the last ten years away from Virginia trying to forget the humidity. *Thanks* for bringing me back.

I'm not sure the last sentence is needed though, just because it takes me away from that sweet moment a little too much.

Sluiter Nation said...

this flows like a slow, virginia summer...like wine...like a hot humid day...like a meandering box turtle.

your pace and tone and symbolism and subject all just melt together.

I adore this piece.

Nichole said...

This post is perfection, Nancy.
Is so few words, you pack in immeasurable love, gratitude, and hope.
Absolutely lovely.

Jack said...

Little gestures like looking out for turtles are telling. This was very sweet.

MultitaskMumma said...

Lovely. So beautiful

Mandyland said...

There were so many things I loved about this...

I loved your descriptions of your "lizard" blood.

I loved how you spoke of pulling your shirt away from your body. Even though I'm sitting in a freezing house, I instantly knew that kind of heat.

I loved how you inserted your thoughts.

I loved that he saved turtles and that he went berry picking with you.

You have a very lovely, effortless way with words.

Amber Page Writes said...

That is quite possibly the sweetest thing I've ever heard...okay, read. And such a great misdirection. I thought for sure he was going to propose when you saw he had his hands cupped.

Well done.

P.S. That heat? Actually sounds good right now. But I know I won't be saying that in July.

Shell said...

You definitely have a keeper!

Yuliya said...

This was absolutely gorgeous, I would love a novel of this. Even something as disgusting as sweat sounds beautiful coming from you...happy sigh...

Andrea (ace1028) said...

This was so perfect. I'm sorry I'm only just getting to it now. It's beautiful. I love it. Absolutely.

Love your writing style, too, fiction or not. Cannot miss a word of it.