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  • Kristen Kehoe

When Once Upon a Time Became 7 Years.

Once upon a time, there was a sassy twenty-two-year old girl. Crazy hair, blue eyes, and a mouth passed down from the Irish sailors in her lineage, she was an acquired taste. Her BA still dewy in its newborn state, she set out on a voyage in her 1995 4 cylinder Toyota Tacoma to a magical place called the desert. A near five hundred miles later, she arrived wearing a sports bra, running shorts, and ice packs she’d stolen from the cooler in the passenger seat, for her vessel had no air conditioning. The sweat was forgotten when she laid eyes on the biggest little city in the world.

There it was—her first apartment, her first job, her first paycheck that didn’t come signed “Dad”. And, though she didn’t know, her first and only love. That’s what this story is truly about.

He was blonde and blue, a Nordic man with a woman’s name if pronounced incorrectly. And it was, often. He greeted her with a line only she could find funny, shaking her hand and stating, “So, you’re fresh off the boat.”

It had to be love.

For six months, they traveled the rough terrain of her new homeland, exploring small pockets of beauty in the dense brown. He took her to the deep green-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, showed her the calm glass of Cascade Lake, and snowshoed with her through the great Mount Rose at twilight. But, as with all good love stories, theirs was torn apart when this Nordic man moved to a place far south. A different place, a different time, a different life.

Seven months passed until he returned home. In this time, the lovers spoke, never truly able to cut all ties. Emails, skype, messenger… one short visit which was too short. And then he returned home—until he left again.

For five months after his return, the lovers did not speak. He was living in the great sunshine state while she was still in desert, remembering him with each corner she turned, reminding herself that not all loves lasted. But in her heart she worried she’d never forget him, for he was imbedded there, entwined so greatly that she couldn’t will him out, though she tried. And then it happened. That climactic moment we all wait for.

It was January, there was a storm on the horizon, not unlike the one they had waited out together months and months ago, cozied together in the mountain cabin. Before she could stop herself, she typed a message, three small words, and hit send. It wasn’t long before he replied… and then he returned.

No love is perfect—the two young lovers have learned this in the years following that simple message. There are fights, important and not so important. There are disagreements about every subject, and there is the inevitable quarrel of “what do we spend our money on?” And there are greater things, external forces at work, which send all of those disagreements to the back. Failed pregnancies, life changes, pain, loss.

But through it all, those lovers have stood, holding hands at the beginning and end of each day, laying on the couch binge watching SOA and Prison Break, and jumping on the trampoline with their daughter. Today, the lovers celebrate their sixth year of marriage together. They celebrate not only the love, but the victories, the friendship, and the passion they committed to in that Tahoe meadow on August 1, 2009.

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