It was February 14, 1987 and she wouldn't even be 21 years old for another two weeks. He had been driving for hours and had something in his pocket that would change the direction of both his life and hers for the remainder of their days. It was tiny, about as small as the lead of a pencil, because it was all that he could afford at 22, and he wanted it to come from his heart and his wallet alone. He was an honorable man, even so early in his life, and she felt proud when she was with him.
She looked out the window at the trees whizzing by and had no idea whatsoever at the thoughts and feelings racing through his mind and heart that day. She was looking forward to a visit with an old friend, a mother figure on Cape Cod whom they had met and fallen in love with the year before. Her name was Davy... and she loved that because her own nickname was a boy's name too. Connections are a funny thing sometimes.
He pulled off at an old favorite haunt, found a parking spot overlooking the wild Atlantic seashore and turned off the ignition. They listened to the sound of the waves pounding onshore for several minutes. Only one other car was there. Opening the door he smiled. "Come on, let's go for a walk." In spite of the fact that it was one of her favorite places in all the world in the summertime, the temperature in that moment was well below zero and she looked at him as if he had seven heads. She pointed the vent at her face, hot air blowing comfortingly into her hair and said simply... "Uh-uh," shaking her head. He looked up to the sky and held out his hand as if to say, "Woman, you better trust me on this one." (That would happen countless times throughout the years). For some reason, she listened.
When they reached the edge of the dunes and his feet touched the sand, he dropped to one knee and offered her the rest of his life. As long as she lived, she would have that gift to remember on the same day every year. That beautiful memory of a private moment on that freezing cold day, in the place they first met.
It should come as no surprise, that she is as tied to the Atlantic coast as she is to the Pacific. The following year, he would give her a beautiful cone shaped seashell in remembrance. It would travel from place to place with her, from Massachusetts, to Connecticut, to California, to Hawaii, to New York.
Thirty years later, she would tuck a card behind it with a sigh, and recognize the profound symbolism of his simple gift. He knew her so well, even then. She would touch it tenderly as the memories flood her heart and fill her mind with her own love story. Until..