A Country Boy And A City Girl
I grew up in a suburb of Denver. He grew up in the hills of the midwest. I drove my first time with my permit in downtown Denver. He would “always” complain about stopping a red light, even when there was only one in town. I punched him in the arm once when the treasurer from a country church moved a deer carcass to get his car out of the garage. Literally almost puked at dinner when they were talking about boning out a deer at the dinner table. He grew up fishing, hunting, and spending his whole day outside. He literally was outside from when it was light out in the morning until it was dark in the evening.
One day, even though he let his bunny cage open so it could roam as it wanted then eat when it wanted, getting his bunny meant, in his mind, that he didn’t have to be at church. Since the parsonage in Elimsport was right beside his house, though, what he didn’t know was that the whole church was watching him chase that bunny around instead of listening to his dad preaching. His dad stopped mid-sermon to see what was going on. Another time, Pete was brought on a visit and was quickly the center of attention when he had climbed on a glass coffee table in the living room that no one ever used and broke through it. Another time, he climbed out a basement window of the church to fall into a briar bush to then need the help of the church members whose assembly he was avoiding. I have so many more stories about him but those are the best ones from his childhood.
I also punched my husband in the arm once when he and the landlord conspired against me to convince me that the outhouse was the only bathroom of his rental he wanted us to rent. In northern Minnesota! The punch came when Pete signed the contract and shook hands with him without consulting me. Yes, I know, there’s a running theme of me punching him in the arm. I think those were the only times I did that, though. That “I remember.”
That same landlord had some family in town and they had agreed with Pete to store their skinned squirrels in MY freezer before they traveled back to the cities. Did he mention that to me? NOPE!
I calmed my driving down a lot with my one-eyed husband in the passenger seat, but in my prime teenage years, I could switch lanes 4 times, speed past someone going the speed, and stop at the light, mere inches from a bumper, in half a mile. He would call it “Denver driving” and I was only allowed to do it on the highway headed to Denver, before he convinced me to always leave early and take the back roads. Which I still do to this day.
My high school had metal detectors, gang fights, and the contraband of red or blue bandanas.
I was one of 400 graduates. His high school was a collection of many towns to make it big enough to not get closed down. He learned how to cross-pollinate plants in high school and today, I still stress out if I can keep my three houseplant gifts alive.
What I love about our marriage between a country boy and a city girl is that it is one of many ways that we influenced each other. The last time I was in Michigan, I boned out a deer, scooted it over on the table, washed my hands, and ate my lunch. After I sent him a picture, of course. He never loved driving on the highway but he did become a sucker for a good road trip. He was the navigator, DJ, and entertainment on those road trips. He loved to butcher our girls’ favorite songs just to hear their disgust. One time, at the rental with the outhouse outside, I got on the tractor and he got in the car to corral the cows that had gotten out. Some of our best memories of spending all day at a lake with our girls swimming under our Newfie or hiking around a lake in the mountains. Because of his love of Montana, we got to go there on his 49th birthday and it’s one of my precious memories. We literally only had cattle in the state park we were in and had to leave because we were in between a heifer and her calf.
We were constantly on the hunt for 1) awesome hikes outside but 2) without anyone else around, which is definitely hard to perfect in Colorado. One drive on a dirt road I wrote in the dirt on the back window, “Paved roads are overrated - Pete.” That is why our spot on Mount Herman Road was perfect. We would literally not interact with humans once we got to our spot. During the week before our wedding, Pete took his parents up to Echo Lake and he ran into Brad Pitt and his exact words were, “I’m literally here with the only two people in the world who don’t know who you are!” He never liked walking out of the house into our neighborhood, even if it was by a creek or nature. He called that boring when we could drive to the mountains and do the same walk. I was destination-oriented on road trips and he would be absolutely fine looking at rocks at the beach for hours or stopping on the trip and hiking.
So much of who I am today is because Pete taught me his love for the country lifestyle, making pies, being outside, sitting around a fire, drinking coffee with friends, while the kids ravage the house. So much of who he was is because he learned from me the art of starting up conversations with strangers in the elevator to our apartment or riding a city bus and finding (or sometimes creating) quiet in the chaos. He lived through many years of me saying, “Well, this sunset isn’t as good as the Colorado sunsets,” but he also helped me appreciate the clouds and sunset over a field. Still not as good as Colorado sunsets, though.
In the midst of this difficult season, when I miss him so much, I remember how different we were, how much we grew from each other, and how much we loved each other through the hard things we endured. And it brings a smile to my face. And so much gratitude to my heart.