The other day we pulled up and parked in front of a store. I put the car in park, turned it off and sat there while Shawna pawed through her purse looking for something. Lex and Gentry unbuckled their seatbelts and began bouncing around waiting to get out. Then Lex stood up on that little hump that runs down the center of the floorboard, and leaned up into the front seat to ask us something.
I didn't hear a word of it.
I smelled this scent--a scent that caused my breath to catch in my throat, my stomach to relax, and my mind to float away to nearly twelve years ago.
To a night after church when I walked up to the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen--a gorgeous blonde who wouldn't give me the time of day. I made it a point to shake her hand at least six times a night, everytime for as long as she'd let me hold on, all the while jabbering about inconsequential stuff, hoping beyond hope for a laugh, or even a grin.
Nothing. Except for a vague, "what a weirdo" look toward her friends.
I kept coming back, though. Eventually I softened her reserve and got a smile. And then a laugh. And then a reply. And a year and a half later, a wife.
But that scent was always the same. It was intoxicating, that perfume she wore. I swooned when I smelled it. I sprayed it on my sweatshirts when she wasn't looking. It was beautiful.
The perfume (I still know the name; I can name it by scent from 20' away), has since disappeared from the fancy cases at Macy's and now graces the "perfume-in-a-clear-plastic-case" shelf at Walgreens. And somebody bought it for Alexis.
I think I hugged Lex like 30 times that day.
Shawna still wears wonderful perfume, but theres something almost Pavlovian about the memories that first scent still unleashes. It reminds me of the day I realized I was in love with her. And I begin to go back through all the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place, and all the reasons I still love her today.
Most importantly though, it reminds me of that first love--the love that doesn't demand perfection, but rather creates an environment that cultivates growth. Most of our personal development happens when we're nurtured in a loving environment, and very little growth happens in harsh, critical environment. We've all loved in that way from time to time; you remember when you first fell in love? But often the pressure of everyday life causes us to get lazy in our love, and we let that loving environment begin to degenerate. And growth stops.
It's one of Shawna's greatest strengths--nurturing that loving environment that allows weakness to be strengthened and flaws to be worked out.
I hope I can be that type of husband and friend--one who manifests a nurturing environment of true love that enables those I love to be better people.
Thank you Shawna.
I love you still!
Your husband, PJ.