6. Chapter 6
I did well in college. I studied hard and got good grades. My degree helped me to attain a job at the zoo in the city. It was always a dream of mine to be able to study or work with animals. At first, I wanted to do some kind of research work but soon changed my mind. I did not want to travel all around the world. I figured the animals right here could us my expertise.
In my freshman year, I met someone. His name was Ethan and he was studying real estate. His dream was to start his own business and eventually work with only selling the most expensive and luxurious homes. He was very handsome and I noticed him right away. He of course didn't even know I existed. Eventually, my friends managed to get us together at a party one night. We struck up a conversation and discovered we had some things in common. He was fascinated by my choice of career. Sometimes I got the feeling he was just humoring me. We went out on a few double dates and then ventured off on our own. We were good together. Was it love at first sight? I wouldn't say so but then again, that was an uncommon occurrence. Still, we got along well and eventually became serious. He was my first and I thought he had all the answers to the universe. I loved him for all his good things and quirks. He tolerated my country bumpkin ways. We were opposites for sure. Ethan grew up in the city. His childhood was spent playing in the concrete jungle, as I like to tease him. He knew nothing of farming or nature. The only animals he saw growing up were pigeons or the ones in the zoo. We taught each other a lot about our different backgrounds. I can honestly say that neither of us envied the other. We were proud of where we were from. We both also had very different ideas of our futures. Still, that did not stop us from having a very serious relationship.
The day we graduated, while we were still in our cap and gown, he gave me a promise ring. He pledged his love for me and promised to one day ask me to marry him. I was head over heals in love and immediately said yes. We agreed to get our careers established before making such a commitment to each other. I totally agreed with the idea. Life just couldn't get any better than this.
And so, we both remained in the city. I found myself a job at the zoo, though not what I had intended. Cleaning reptile cages was far from my dream job but hey, it was a step in the right direction. Ethan began his career working for a local real estate agent, filing paperwork and getting to know the ins and outs of the business. When we weren't working, we were together. We loved each other very much and missed each other when we were apart. That's why we decided to move in together. We got a little apartment that was close enough to both our jobs. We fell into a routine where we shared breakfast every morning before heading off to work. In the evening, we came back together for dinner and the weekends we were inseparable. We had our friends and most all of them got along, some more than others. Ethan's best friend and my dorm roommate ended up getting married. We still laugh at them because they hated each other when they first met.
The first summer, after Ethan gave me the ring, we decided to meet the parents. His folks lived in a big suburban home on the outskirts of the city. It was very intimidating at first. This place looked like some sort of mini mansion. There was a pool, stables that held horses and a separate garage with his dad's prized vintage car collection. The house was on a lake so they had a big luxury boat. There was a lot more but I couldn't focus. I really felt out of place and a little hesitant. Ethan did what he could to make me feel at ease. It made me feel really good to have him by my side. His folks were nice but a little stuffy. I guess money does that to some people. Overall, it was a nice visit, though a place I wouldn't want to go too often.
Next, we were going to my country home. Now, some of you might think I was embarrassed to show Ethan where I grew up. My house was nothing like his. It was very old and worn looking. Paint was chipping from the wood siding. Some of the eaves were buckling and breaking. The front porch railing bowed in places. But this is what gave my childhood home character. To me it was not worn but lived in. It was not a fancy looking museum piece but rather a well-used piece of history. I loved my home and I was very proud of it. Ethan picked up on my emotional feelings for this place and supported me. If he ever felt out of place, he did not show it. My dad was very welcoming. I noticed for the first time, how worn and tired he looked. Farm life had been tough on him since Mother died and I went away. He had to hire help and there was always stress with the different workers. Usually they were young boys fresh out of high school who thought farm life was easy. After only a few months, they quit. Still, my dad managed on his own quite well. I must admit, I felt guilty for not being there to help. Dad always managed to make me feel better about my choice, saying it was the right thing for me to do. I could tell he still missed my mother very much. I think it is what led to his increased aging. I worried for him.
Everything went well. Ethan and Dad got along great. They spent a lot of time looking at his collection of old tractors and farm equipment. Ethan said it could bring him in some money should he ever decided to sell it. They were considered collectible to some. Dad just laughed and said no one would want that old beat up junk. It had some sentimental value in it being that some things belonged to his family for generations.
One evening I decided to take Ethan to visit my mother's grave. I spoke to her tombstone as if she were sitting right there. I told her how much I love him and that we planned to marry in the near future. Ethan was very sweet as he walked off to pick some wildflowers and laid them on her resting place. It was the first time in many years that I cried for her.
I took him to the pond and told him stories of my youth. I loved Ethan and trusted him. I was very close to telling him about my secret friend. I felt if we were to marry, there should be no secrets between us. Something stopped me though. I don't know if I was afraid that he wouldn't believe me or if I still doubted myself. I decided to keep my secret a little longer.
Next, I took Ethan to my old tree house. It was still in good shape. It almost looked as if someone was taking care of it. I figured Dad gave us some of his good wood that lasted for years. Why the paint wasn't peeling was a mystery. We only ever painted it once and it still looked pretty good, almost like new. We climbed up the steps and up through the floor. I had brought some blankets and a bottle of wine. We laid everything out, drank wine from the bottle, since I forgot glasses, and forgot about life outside the tree house. Ethan undressed me slowly, taking his time as his hands brushed along my body. I did the same for him. Soon we found ourselves naked and a little tipsy from the wine. We made love beneath the stars. He was slow and tender. I was anxious and wanted more. We both taught each other something that night. We came from completely different backgrounds but we meshed together so well. Where I was weak, Ethan was strong. Where he was stubborn, I was understanding. I guess it's true what they say about opposites attracting. Life was good. Everything was exactly how I pictured it to be when I was younger. I was home with my love in my arms. I imagined our children playing here and growing up here. Ethan would come to love country life. We would live happily ever after. Besides, this is my fairytale… isn't it?