Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Mountaintop High.

The perfect end to that summer was hearing those three words. I think he could have said them 1,000 times in a row and my heart would still race. What a feeling it is to know that the one that you love, loves you back. We were both excited and sad to start another year of college, but starting it meant ending it, which meant another year down. We were both finally out of the dorms and in apartments with our friends, which made the year entirely more enjoyable.

Our junior year of college was easy. We were used to being away from each other; after all, we had done it for two whole years. We had a deeper sense of trust in the other and were more comfortable in knowing that we were going to make it. We were going to be together. After all, we were in love!

Darin and I decided since we had taken that next step in our relationship that we should try to go home and be together more often than every third weekend. Our friendships were already established at college and we felt it was important to work on our relationship since we were headed in the direction of the idea of being together forever. We went home every other weekend that year and felt that it was the best thing for us.

One Autumn weekend, Darin picked me up on that Saturday morning and said we were going out. “Where to?” I asked and he of course responded with the usual “you’ll see”. I hated (but secretly loved) when he did that. We drove toward his college town and before we got there, we took many strange twists and turns down roads I never knew existed. We began to hit the middle of nowhere when he pulled up to an old barbed wire fence and stopped.

“We’re here,” he said.

“Ummmm, we’re where?” I responded.

“Come on!” he said as he grabbed my hand.

He helped me over the rickety fence and ran back to the truck to grab something. Ahead of me was a massive mountain and behind me were rolling hills. It was beautiful.

“Let’s go!” he said with that giant smile plastered on his face, looking ahead to the mountain.
If I had known we were going to hike up a mountain that day, I would have worn better shoes, but of course, I had on typical “Whitney” heels. Luckily, he thought ahead and snuck along a pair of my tennis shoes. We trucked it up that mountain and about half way up I thought I was going to pass out. Darin was going far too fast for me, and he had my hand, so I told him I had to slow down or I was going to die right then and there. He went ahead of me, carrying a cooler and some extra jackets. He climbed that mountain like a billy goat and I climbed it like a…. one legged hog. It was torture.

I finally took my last step onto the rocky top and sighed with a sense of accomplishment. I half wanted to scream at him for making me exert myself so, but as soon as I turned around and saw the view before me, I was speechless. It was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t believe there was something so pretty at our fingertips that I never even knew about. Darin always introduced me to pretty things. Before him, I never set foot outside. He always challenged me and expanded my horizon.

I loved that about him.

We had a sunset picnic up on that mountain, complete with sub sandwiches, our favorite chips, cookies and a couple of waters. We sat up there for hours just talking about us, our future and our past. I didn’t want to leave. It was surreal on top of that mountain. It was as if time stood still and we were the only two people in the world.

As we sat on the edge of the cliff, watching the sky turn from hues of bright blue and deep red to lavish pinks and yellows, it began to get very cold. I shivered and as I rubbed my goose bumps, I was enveloped in a big warm coat…that smelled exactly like Darin. I turned to look at him and said, “thank you so much for doing this….it has truly been one of the best days of my life.” I turned back to watch the sun wave its final farewell and he whispered, “you’re welcome, my love”, as he kissed my cheek.

That was the first time Darin’s lips had touched my face and it was the sweetest, most perfect kiss my cheeks had ever felt. The numbness they felt before was gone and my face was suddenly on fire.