In some ways it felt like we were losing a member of the family. We even had a photo shoot. I handed my husband the cashier’s check, and he headed off to the dealer. It would be the last time I would ever see that sporty Acura backing out of the garage. I waved goodbye, not just to Phil, but to the car too.
The first big date Phil and I had was a day trip I had read about in the Wisconsin State Journal: Madison to Parfey’s Glen followed by a ride on the Merrimac Ferry. It was a glorious day, a great way to spend my last date with Phil before he left for many months working in Greece.
Our courtship continued via airmail, e-mail and occasional phone call. And though the romance of transatlantic onion-skin paper letters was enrapturing, I was happy and relieved when I finally saw him again in late September. Our understanding of the world had been rocked by the events of September 11. But my world was being rocked by and even stronger force, Phil.
We had discussed going apple picking at a Wisconsin orchard on his first Saturday back. But when he got to my apartment, we talked for hours catching up on months of stories that the airmail and e-mail couldn’t capture. We laughed and hugged and kissed the morning and afternoon away, giving an entirely new meaning to the words “going apple picking”.
As late afternoon turned into evening we climbed into his fire-engine red Acura Integra and zoomed along the country highways and rustic roads to New Glarus for dinner followed by a twilight drive back to Madison, full moon shining through the open top, Tamara and her acoustic guitar serenading us over the stereo, our hands locked across the console.
I leaned toward him, sighed and looked at the stars in the crisp night above me. I was in love—cruising under a harvest moon during apple picking season.
Later there was a trip in that Acura to the Milwaukee Airport to leave for Prince Edward Island, Canada, where we eloped. Since then, I’ve even gotten to drive the Acura.
And there was that other nocturnal drive, anything but leisurely, on I-90, me gushing green amniotic fluid and having contractions every two minutes; Phil muttering something like “What happened to the ‘every 5 minutes’ we were supposed to wait for?”
And there was the trip back from the hospital—without our daughter. I held back tears all the way home. Then, nine days later, just ahead of an oncoming snowstorm, we put the infant carrier in that tiny back seat for the first of many times and brought her home with us.
Phil just called. He is on his way home in his new metallic gray Accord. A “dad’s” car that he now reluctantly owns. But I suspect, when the day comes and the Accord has 200,000 miles of memories to its credit, we will be just as sad to see it go.
© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.