Nothing much was different when I woke up this morning. I peered over at you and smiled when I noticed how your silver streaks were beginning to cover the peppery hair that were getting lost underneath. It made me a little sad to realize how that beautiful head of dark hair was disappearing almost right before my eyes. I noticed how many more lines were showing up around your eyes and how many more furrows had formed around your mouth. I looked at your rough boy lips, and I grinned when I was reminded by how many times they had kissed mine, and how they were the only lips I have wanted to kiss for the past million years. I scrutinized every inch of your face before I looked past the now, and I saw the rough boy I had met so many years ago. The boy with the dark, wild hair and greenish-hazel eyes. The firm, lean and muscular young nineteen-year-old that so effortlessly swept me off my feet from the moment I laid my eyes on him. The rough boy everybody warned me against. The rough boy that they said, would never be good enough for me. The rough boy that would end up breaking my heart. The boy that was too rough for a girl like me. The rough boy that belonged with someone more like him.
I remember that day as though it was just yesterday. It was an autumn day somewhere between me being a girl, and becoming a woman. Through the crowd that had gathered in the city streets, I saw you before I saw anyone else. I caught a glimpse of you getting on your motorcycle and zipping up your rough boy leather jacket. You looked past the guys, and you looked past the girls. Almost as though your eyes knew who’s they wanted to see, they stopped by me and as they fixed a gaze on me, they never left mine. And there we were, two strangers staring at each other with a hundred people around us. A rough boy and a good girl who didn’t know much about life, or love. When your index finger beckoned for me to come closer, I knew at that very moment, I was in trouble. The good girl in me hesitated, but my heart wouldn’t let me disappear into the crowd, and hide from you. I was so powerless to turn and walk away from you, I didn’t want to. You swept me up, told me to hold on tight, and drove off into the night where the city lights turned into magic for me. Little did I know that at that very second, I was riding off into an adventure with a rough boy, that was to last this good girl a lifetime.
But, we had our moments. We had our rough boy thorns among the good girl roses. We had our tempestuous waves, and we had our tempers flare. Actually, it was my temper and always only mine that flared up. We lost ten years, when this good girl broke her rough boy’s heart, but we gained twenty when her rough boy brought her back to where she belonged, with him. We made a home, we raised children, and we carved out beautiful lives. You carved out a magnificent world for me to live in. A place I was safe in, somewhere I was loved and somewhere, I could lay my head down and cry when I needed to, and without shame. You loved me. You caught up each tear that would spill from my eyes, and built me a chamber with them in your heart, where I could store my precious memories in and never apologize for them. You just loved me. Just because you did. Not because I could be anything spectacular or wonderful someday. Not because I was someone important or someone that mattered much. You just loved me. You. Loved. Me. You loved me, and there has never been one day that I doubted that or doubted you. Not once, did I question the love or devotion my rough boy ever had for me.
You stand back and make way for me step forward and shine. You see to it that I have enough space around me to find that which makes my soul happy. You take my hand when I am not really paying attention, and you hold firmly onto it. You stand so closely behind me, just in case I lose my balance and fall. You walk beside me, yet, you are always just a little behind me. Then, almost at the same time, you stand in front of me and you guard me as I make my mistakes. You let me try and you let me fail, and then you pick up the pieces of me and for me. You never scold or berate me, and you have never uttered as much as an I told you so.
So, as I lay staring at you while you sleep for just another five more minutes, I embrace and fall madly in love with each line on your face. I can almost tell a story for every single one of them. Did a line show up the day I drove 400 miles on my own, and you couldn’t reach me on the road? Did another one appear the day a truck hit our son’s car? Was another line because of the day a car hit another son’s motorcycle? Did that long, deep one come from the day our daughter crashed hers? Those frown lines, were they implanted the day our house accidentally burnt down, almost to the ground? I don’t know which line belongs with which story, but what I do know is, a dozen lines are there because you spent so many days and so many nights working tirelessly to give us a home, to put our children through school and to send them all on their way the moment they were ready to leave. I look at your hands, and the traces of all your hard work is there. My rough boy never sits still, just so that his good girl’s hands don’t have to look like that. Are the grooves around your mouth because you kept quiet too many times when you so badly wanted to say something? Did your silver streaks multiply when you sat up so many nights before, waiting for a child to return home safely? Or are some there because you drove around so many nights looking for our young and wild rough boys of our own?
You are a story, my rough boy. Your face, your body and your hair tells of a man that made a queen out of a simple, good country girl. They tell of a man that raised his girls as princesses. They tell of a man that made men out of rough boys. They tell of a man that stood quietly in the background, so that others could stand out and shine. I know that years from now, I will count more lines, more grooves and I will no longer find one single peppered hair on your head, but I will never not see that young nineteen-year-old that swept me up and took me on a journey I never saw coming. An adventure nothing could prepare me for, but one I would never have wanted any other way.
I will love you, years from now, just as I loved you then and just as I love you now. And someday, when we sit on that much-dreamed of porch overlooking our Christmas trees, I hope that you will still bring me a flower from our garden, and sweep this good girl up into your rough boy arms.