It had been just over 3 years since they met, 2 years since they decided to begin a long-distance relationship, and 11 weeks since they had seen each other in person. As she got on a plane to cross the ocean again, words could not describe how eager her heart was to be with its other part, the only part that makes it feel whole. Somewhere between his cobblestone streets and her 8-lane highways, somewhere between his quiet town and her bustling city, they discovered what real love is made of.
Though stuffy and sick, she endured what seemed like the longest two flights of her life, knowing the duration would soon fade from memory when she saw his face at the airport. And this proved to be true.
Holding hands on the way home just made a planned detour along the coast of that same ocean a bit more delightful, and almost made her forget her congested head and inability to get warm, despite many layers. And the hope of a proposal made her get out of the car, into the drizzling rain at every planned mountain and ocean view, not wanting to disappoint him... if this indeed could be "the spot".
[And yes, you do have to admit that in this unusual circumstance, of course she knew it was coming soon. And no, the knowledge of "soon" did not ruin the surprise.]
None, in fact, were the aforementioned "spot", and at the last, she mentioned, "I can't wait to just get to your house and sit on the couch and snuggle", for she knew the holiday visits and Christmas celebrations would fill their week quickly and all too soon she would be getting on that plane again.
Imagine, now, when a small, secretive stop on the way home turns into a winding road in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, in the rain, and ends at a quaint house with an unknown woman opening the gate unlocking the door for them. She leads them through the small, round house with 3 levels, gives a few instructions in Portuguese, then leaves and gives him the keys. With a bit of embarrassment, she now remembers her response when he mentioned that she could get her book from the car while he builds a fire: "We're not staying here for the night, are we?"
"Well, unless you want to drive back to Coimbra tonight....", he responded sadly.
"No, let's stay here..." she said, "...but can we turn on the heat?"
"Love, that's why I'm building a fire."
Her emotions got the better of her when the wood was wet, she felt awful, couldn't get warm, and he said he was leaving to prepare dinner... in the kitchen, which was down a steep flight of wet stone stairs. Outside. In the cold, dark night. After a few tears fell, he invited her to join him cooking. Her eyes dried when she saw the thoughtfulness of heart-shaped pasta that he had brought, which she knew had to be almost impossible to find in Portugal! They ate a beautiful dinner upstairs, where the heat had risen, accompanied by the sounds of her favorite jazz music. Dinner had helped her head to clear, and when he asked her to dance, she was reminded of why she loved him so much, and even more so as he spoke of love that conquered oceans and promised that his would last a lifetime. She had barely noticed him fidgeting in his pocket a minute before, so as he danced and held her hands behind her back, she was completely surprised when he slipped the ring on her finger and followed it with, "So, Kim Salewski, will you marry me?" She, of course, had to accept.
This story gets better as he begins a story of his own: "So let me tell you why I chose a mill..."
"A mill", she thought... "so that's what this place is!"
"It used to be a flour mill", he said, "and I chose this place to propose because when we think of flour, we think of bread, and bread is the foundation of every culture and has been throughout all of history; it is the most common thing that every culture shares. Jesus used bread in his miracles. Just like bread is a foundation, I want to begin to build the foundation of our life -- together."
And just like that, she fell in love with the little mill house, its cold walls, small quarters, and wet firewood. It was the perfect beginning to the next chapter that was about to be written...
|Loved the original windows!|
|Picnic tables made from the original round grinding stones used in the mill!|
|The stairs down to the kitchen (platform is the roof)|
|Forever and ever...|
|...and the Lord sent us a double rainbow on the way home to remind us of His promises to us!|
|Happy New Year to us!|