A drive across the back roads headed east. A bridge across the Delaware. A town full of the quaintest shops, cafes and nooks one could ever hope to encounter. A man so excited to show it all to me he doesn't know where to start.
There are brick sidewalks and doll-house row-homes lining the streets. There are cherry and apple blossoms exploding with color and light. The plants and trees and grass are such a vibrant green it's almost blinding, a full week of rain having packed them so full of life now bursting forth in breath-taking color. And amidst it all is a world of scents I have to strain to distinguish.
One scent I know, and my soul loves it so much I dream about it. It is the one found in pages of old books nestled in over-full shelves of some forgotten shop. The kind-of place that houses nothing but leather-bound antiques and obscure titles so long out of print only the scholars know of their existence. I flip through the pages and breathe deep, letting the vaguely musty but-oh-so intoxicating scent penetrate my nostrils, soak into my hair and clothes, envelop me like a hug from a long-lost friend. The clerk walks by and gives me a knowing smile- he gets this all the time. Those of us with the love of books find sanctuary in these places, and we never stay away too long.
A walk to the canal reveals a path by the water full of such picturesque vistas my inner photog can't help itself and I start snapping away. The surface of the water reflects the world and gives the illusion of infinity- a neverending constitutional benefiting the soul rather than the body. And for a moment- one of many on this day- time stops. Whatever came before, and whatever will come next vanishes in the presence of so much else. A breathe, full and enlivening.
A tiny little bar with so much nautical memorabilia it could well-be a museum and a toast made to friends about new beginnings. There is genuine excitement in the air, the kind of heart-felt regard that carries you through the uncertainty and fear into the safety of open arms and smiles. I will remember this moment. And yes, maybe it will become part of a story that will end in ways I didn't plan for. But it will be a great chapter in my life, I know.
Dinner and jokes and stories that flesh out this person, this wonder of a human being I am beginning to submerge myself in. There are late nights and adventures. There are "I can't believe you"s and incredulous questions. There are friendships and milestones and memories from great company, all enjoyed over mouth-watering entrees and the noisy bustle of a good Italian restaurant. And under the table, the feel of a hand on mine. One that my fingers are beginning to hunger for when I haven't felt the touch for a while. It's a secret, a shared glimpse across the table, and I love it so completely it startles me.
And I am aware, as I have been aware for some time, that this is what I've been missing. During all of those quiet weekends that I defended as being restful, relaxing and easy I was missing this life. Vibrant, and loud, and wonderfully exhausting. And being in it- truly sucking the marrow from this moment now- I feel rejuvenated and so, so excited for all that is yet to come.
In the evening, the twilight gives the town an even more magical taste and we wander like tourists in a strange country- marveling at the architecture, the sounds, the signs and windows and roads. A million inconsequential sightings that endear this place to me in a way that only a new world can. There's that not-quite-reality sensation on the surface of my skin. Like the rules of existence don't quite apply for the moment, like truly anything could happen. I keep breathing, desperate to take it all in, to fully absorb and consume it. I am aware of the gift, and ever so grateful.
And even if it were the last perfect day, even if there weren't so many more to come, I would still be happy. Because this day, this beautiful, full day that has filled my soul with so much life I am amazed I can house it all- is perfect.