We’d set up our tent in a flat area that turned out to be the base of a seasonal creek, turned to a pond in the storm. He replied with the most romantic thing he’s ever said to me: “This is my bucket list,” he said.
I laughed until my stomach hurt as my husband moved the tent to higher ground.
He challenged me to help him with the ropes, and the radio, when we sailed through a squall.
He was not an experienced sailor, but I knew he wouldn’t take unnecessary risks with me on board, and I felt safe in a way I had never felt with another man. I wanted flowers, dancing, compliments, and I told him so.
When we’d been dating nine months, we chartered a sailboat in the Virgin Islands for a week.
I was impressed by how calm he was steering the boat, and how patiently he showed me how to drop anchor.
His feelings were strong, he told me later, but he’d wanted to be sure. He didn’t lavish attention upon me like other boyfriends had, and this took some getting used to.
He didn’t care if I wore make-up, or if I dressed up or wore lingerie.
We spent a beautiful day hiking along the southern shore of Caples Lake, near Tahoe, then traced Emigrant Creek to a glacier lake surrounded by the Mokelumne Wilderness peaks. Our kids retreated to their tent with the dog, and my husband and I huddled together in ours.
Our four kids worked together to pitch their tent, and we pitched ours. When the hail stopped, I unzipped the tent to start dinner, and stepped into a puddle a foot deep.
This was my first clue that the brand of romance I’d thought I wanted was to be eclipsed by something far more profound and enduring. I began to balk at leaving our son — and as they arrived, over the years, our three daughters — with babysitters they didn’t know well, even for a few hours.