A couple settled in across from each other at a table next to a window with the perfect view of the hillside, empty of anything but the blanket of mother nature's winter splendor. The full moon shed its light on the snowflake’s gracious dance through the night sky to the earth below collecting their contemporaries as it accumulated.
Lodgers roamed about the room, heads tilted back, admiring its vaulted ceilings with massive trunks of wood crisscrossing the span. Others delighted at the staircase with its spindles of hand-carved angels, caressing the smooth faces as gentle as their own child’s cheek. The impeccable detail beckoned, but it was the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, with its sturdy barn beam mantle, that commanded a gathering around it as the orange and blue flames delivered a satisfying heat, carrying the intoxicating scent of earthy pine and coziness. The aroma of coziness from the warm, safe feeling of being snowed in. However, tonight, it was all insignificant. Tonight, surrounded by the majesty of this unexpected gift, there was only one thing more captivating than the snow outside or the architecture inside, and that was her eyes.
Two petite hands wrapped around a steaming cup of hot chocolate, her hair settling around a turtleneck. She smiled. “This cup is so warm. It’s like standing by the fireplace, but tastier.”
He chuckled. “I know you hate the cold, but I’m glad we’re here. This is just how I pictured it, and there’s no one else, or anywhere else, I’d rather be at this moment. Snowed in at a ski chalet, and neither one of us know how to ski.”
They both grinned at each other.
She lifted her hot cocoa, closed her eyes, and sipped from it. “ You are my everything. I hope you know that. We need each other's love. It's what makes us normal, steady, and grateful. It’s good for both of us. It’s like one of those moments you’ve never been in, but you remember it.”
“I love the way you think about things,” he said, taking a drink of cocoa. Her blue eyes sparkled like the snowflakes in the moonlight. Palpable and resolute, reflecting the morning of creation, casting her grace upon the world. Divine portals to a soul that had taught him so much about empathy and forgiveness, and unconditional love. A balanced love where the give and take are even and focused on the same purpose. Not a fairy tale love, but a love that is founded upon the belief that you make each other stronger in the tough times and more appreciative of the good times. Molded-in an unwillingness to let the other be trapped in the negative thoughts of their own minds, and reinforce the idea of their constant value.
They met working with troubled kids. She carried herself like a pro, a force to be reckoned with while making everything around her seem comfortable and familiar. Watching her interact was like trying to figure out a magician. Mesmerized by the ability to do things that don't seem humanly possible, but intrigued to know how it was actually done. Her eyes calmed, her words impacted, and her presence put everyone at ease. That was hard to resist. Hard to not be affected by it. Just like tonight, at this table with snow falling outside, still hard to resist. Butterflies fluttered in his stomach like the ones he would get pulling into the parking lot for work.
She cupped her hands to her mouth and blew into them.
“Are you too cold? Do you want to go stand by the fire?”
“No, there are too many people over there. You know over-socializing is exhausting for me. I’m fine right here. ” She smiled. “I was just pretending we were out trudging through the snow, and how freezing it would be.”
“Do you want to go for a walk in the snow?”
“Oh no!” she responded. “Didn’t you see me warming up my hands just thinking about it?”
He laughed out loud. She winked and took another sip.
Folding his arms across the table, he took his thumb and index finger and pinched himself just hard enough to wince. He did that every once in a while to make sure this wasn't a dream or that this could actually be his life. That, this woman could be right here, right now, through thick and thin.
“Did you just pinch yourself?” she asked.
“I’m just always checking to see if this is real.”
“Oh, it’s real. That's for sure. And that's what scares me. Becoming so dependent on another individual with all the trust you can muster. There's a lot of vulnerability in that whole process. Which is, like I said, scary.”
He rubbed his chin, looked at the moon, then back to her.
“Stare at the moon for a minute, let it tell you about this moment,” she said.
“Always feel small when you stand beside the ocean,” he replied.
They taught each other the quality of being part of the vastness.
His eyes met the face of the moon; gray, and cratered, reflecting its light to uncover the mountains and present the snow. It held its place in the sky bringing life to the darkness. Just like this incredible creature across from him, bringing life to the darkness. Holding their fear while seeking purpose and love in the dwellings of the universe, and creating moments that penetrate the soul. It may have happened by circumstance or a coordinated string set forth by the creator, he wasn’t sure. But whatever it was, it brought her here, with him, drinking hot cocoa. And he knew it for the reasons in which he was told to look at the moon. How she knew what brought him to an inner conscience to see and understand the experience. Her fortitude inspired him to be a better man as she determined those things with her strength. This is who he had in front of him. A person who believed we teach people how to treat us, and when we know better, we do better. She taught him the value of her flaws, the beauty of her quirks, and the intimacy of her love.
He continued to bask in the moon’s illumination, picturing her asleep next to him with one hand tucked under her chin like being in deep thought. She squeaked out sweet noises and blurted out inaudible words, followed by a bemused giggle. Then came the wild flinging of covers on and off as she attempted to regulate her body temperature. Thinking about it, an unconscious grin crawled across his cheeks.
“I see you smiling over there, you must be having some good thoughts.”
“I am.” He looks at her, leaning forward, taking her hands in his. “I was thinking about your eyes, both opened and closed.”
“Oh my goodness,” she squeezes his hands.
He squeezes back. “I’ve done a lot of thinking and there is something I need to do. Or ask, or well…” Butterflies swirled in his stomach.
He slid out of his chair.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
He dropped to one knee
She paused, her pink skin turned a flush red. Her face contorted, “ I can’t believe you’re doing this. I can't believe this is happening right now. Right here. You’re really doing it.”
People around the fireplace turned their heads as wool knit caps poked out from behind the staircase. They hushed, pulling phones up for their cameras as their attention is drawn to the experience taking place at the small table by the window.
“Sweetpea, will you make me the happiest man ever and marry me?”
The crowd leaned in, anxious for her answer.
He stared at her, a smile permeating his face. She leaned toward him and whispered in his ear, then sit back calmly.
All eyes in the room are planted on the man on one knee. Someone hollers, “well, what did she say?”
He looks at the faces in the room. “She said, tell all these people we have been married for twenty years, and that my husband thinks he is funny, but he is not as funny as he thinks. Also if anyone has an extra bunk, it may be helpful.”