Sixteen years ago, I married a boy. He was only 19 and had long hair. He wore shorts and birkenstocks. I had hair down the middle of my back and was 9 months pregnant. We were young but, we were in love. We met in Ocean City, MD. It was a “summer romance”. Two weeks before Devon was to move to Colorado with my brother, I discovered I was pregnant. I had seen people get married because of a baby and knew that the odds of it working out were slim. I had just met Devon. I wasn’t in love. So, I sent him on his way with my brother knowing I’d have this baby and be just fine. I was 21.
About 5 months later, Devon had to come back to MD to go to court. It’s a long drive from Colorado to Maryland. So, for the return journey, I volunteered to go with him. We talked and laughed and got to know each other. We saw a double rainbow in Kansas, slept at a truck stop, watched tumble weeds blow across the road when we entered Colorado. The mountains were breathtaking. They dwarfed the “mountains” we had in Maryland.
I stayed for a few weeks. Devon and I fit. I felt like I had known him my whole life. It was comfortable and exciting! As he drove me to the airport, he looked at me and said, “Come back”. We both knew something was stirring inside of us. We both wanted to explore what that something was.
When I returned a month later and a bit rounder, we gave ourselves permission to dream and explore what those feelings were. We lived at the base of the Spanish Peaks in LaVeta, Colorado. We would lay in bed and watch the snow storms roll in over the mountains and fall on us. We’d make the long drive daily up the mountains to Cuchura Valley Resort where we worked. (He was in the kitchen and I was serving.) We’d pass the Devil’s Stairstep, giant walls that had been formed years ago by magma and Goemer’s Butte, a volcano that never erupted. I remember one morning spotting a ram standing majestically on the Stairstep. He was strong and graceful. It was breathtaking. We’d daily pass 30 or 40 deer lounging across and on the side of the road, traveling up the Scenic Highway of Legends. The columbines and wildflowers in bloom were a constant painting that swept the grasses.
We worked at the ski resort with “Mountain Man Jim”, a big old guy with a gray beard. He had a cookbook collection that would make Barnes and Nobles jealous. He had a passion for food and drink that lit a spark in both Devon and I. He knew what hospitality meant. The manager, Adam and his wife, Jill took us under their wings and into their family. They had five kids and were from Texas. They loved on Devon and I and made us feel at home.
Those days were a beautiful dream that I was afraid would end, but they didn’t. One morning, when we woke up, Devon looked at me and said, “Marry me.” He looked shocked as the words came out of his mouth. I saw that look and said, “Did you mean that?” He started to cry. “Yes, I think I did.”
We drove into Pueblo, the closest city around. We found a jeweler and picked out a ring. We had a jar of coins to our name. The owner let us make a small deposit and take the engagement ring, with a promise to send the other half once the bill was paid off. Devon slid it in his pocket and we headed for a restaurant called The Rendevous. We ordered a bottle of Clos du Bois (with the rest of our change) and dinner. After the meal, Devon knelt down and asked me to marry him, again. I said, “Yes!”
It didn’t take us long to get a marriage license and find the one and only pastor in our little town of 700 people. We had an incredible meeting with him. He gave us a gift that we think every engaged couple should be given. He told us to go back to our apartment and apologize to one another for all the previous relationships we had had prior to knowing one another. He said, “Learn to say your sorry. Learn to forgive.” We went back and wiped the slate clean with our tears. That afternoon, we headed up the mountain to meet the pastor. Our boss and wife stood in for us. Mountain Man Jim, brought a Sara Lee cake and a bottle of champagne. We were joined by a dozen people from the town…a few cowboys, a fiber artist, a surfer and pool shooting buddies.
We exchanged our vows and promises to stick with one another through thick and thin, under the tall birches and next to a rippling stream. Colorado was the perfect place to plant the seed of love and have it gently nurtured into a little seedling.
So, 5 kids later, travels to places like China, Philippines, Ireland, India, South Africa, a coffee shop, 12 moves, a remodeling company, lots of laughs, a loss of a brother, arguments and hardship find us more in love. A bit more mature kind of love, a bigger tree, rooted in the love we discovered in Colorado.
Happy Anniversary Devon!
I love you!