I smear red lipstick across my gray sweater. It is wine splashed across a stormy sky. At first I hoped it wouldn’t stain; now I hope it does. The car keeps rolling through the wind that warns of distant rain. The hills have warmed from brown to green. They are bright beneath the darkening sky.
As far as I can tell, I only have a few months left in the town of my childhood. My husband would like to move “anywhere but here” and I would like nothing more than to join him.
We are happy. It is strange to be so happy in a place yet want to leave it so badly.
We like our house. Our walls display photos from our wedding: Framed happiness. There is artwork: Hanging inspiration. There are bills on the fridge: Chilling procrastination.
We like visiting my parents’ home. Two dogs and a cat greet us. One pisses in excitement, one runs in circles and the other scurries away until he can return later to have us all to himself. My mom and dad are always glad to see us. They listen to our stories and give us food to eat. They remind us what joy and hopefulness look like whenever we struggle to remember for ourselves.
We like our friends. We laugh with them. We go to school and work with them. Sometimes we hide away together and sometimes we go exploring. We learn from them and they learn from us, although no one ever admits to being the student or the teacher.
We like the overcast sky and the mile walk to campus. We like the mud that sticks to our shoes. We like the buildings we’ve known since we were young and the shops and restaurants downtown. We like the sidewalks which have memorized our feet.
But we would like to leave.
Sometimes we outgrow people or places or things. I have found that outgrowing people is the very hardest of all. As I sit with my growing pains and my husband sits with his, I wonder where we will grow to next. And who we will grow to become.
I look down at the lipstick stain on my sweater. Perhaps it has smeared across my face. If my husband sees he will smile and think I am cuter than I was a moment ago. But instead he keeps his eyes on the road. I’ve known him to be one who is certain of where he should go and what he must do to get there.
Perhaps the thing I am most proud of in my life is that before I met him, I became the sort of person who would help him on the path he is already determined to take, rather than steer him towards a course that is easier.
“I want to show you something,” he says, and he drives past a house hidden in the fields where he once kissed a girl for the first time. I remember him telling me about his awkwardness in response to the aggression of her tongue.
I laugh. And laugh. And laugh. Then ask him to tell me more stories.
We love to share in the past, but we also like to be away from it, driving forward onto the next rolling hill.