He smells like Switzerland, I think. I press more deeply into my pillow and breathe the air from both sides: damp air blowing from the night beyond the window across the room and his mountain-tainted air billowing next to me. Sweet and clean and fresh.
It's not Switzerland itself surrounding him, of course. No glaciers or pines or wisteria or lakes or vineyards or lamb-studded meadows. Just some perfect combination of after shave, deodorant, and his personal pheromones that invoke memories of the country. We were sweet and fresh, ourselves, when we were there. I pull the sheet further up over my shoulders and smile, tucking my legs into his.
It was spring, then. Tiny, perfect crocuses were pushing through stubborn clumps of snow in the lower Alps, and great, foggy clouds huddled around us as we wound through mountains. Every other switchback, there was a gushing waterfall, emptying the peaks of their clear, snowy water.
For as much as we loved the smoothness of the green countryside, the cities we visited were enchanting. In Lausanne, our hotel room was charming and tiny with a brass bed and high ceilings. Somehow, we always ended up in a room next to a trio of matronly English ladies with silver hair and flowered skirts. They were on the same traveling schedule as us, and the way they tittered and smiled as we exited our rooms each morning made me blush. They thought we were on our honeymoon, probably. And we might as well have been. We hadn't even been married for two years and were understandably clingy. We walked places as a unit, arms and hands and bodies always touching. We gazed with syrupy lust across lakeside tables and shared sips of warm, red wine from rustic stoneware cups.
Those little old ladies knew love when they saw it, I guess.
And though it was seven years ago, I wonder about those ladies. Strange what I took away from that trip: the memory of proper English grandmothers and their sense of adventure. Even they stopped the forward motion of a (presumed) simple life to travel across the continent on a grand expedition.
But I don't know -- maybe this was their yearly habit. Maybe they'd been knocking out European countries with their steely-eyed gazes for a few decades. Maybe we were the umpteenth giddy lovers they'd witnessed traipsing arm-in-arm over old-city bridges and browsing city markets.
Maybe they're still taking adventures together.
Back in my own bed, I wonder, with the air blowing in waves of remembering, if I'll ever have adventures again.
My brother and his family, right now, are traveling for a year. Working in quarter-long stints at exciting locations: San Antonio; the Virgin Islands; Florida; DC. They're seeing things. Meeting people. Walking arm-in-arm over historic paths and scenic beaches.
My high-school friend and her husband sold almost everything they own, packed the rest into a rough-shod SUV, and are currently somewhere in Central America, driving the entire length of the continent with no agenda and no strings holding them in place. They have each other, they have their vehicle, and they have whatever happens tomorrow.
One of my bridesmaids invited us to share a house with them in Mexico this summer. I can almost hear the laughter and stories that would unfold there -- the sunny heat, the sultry dark, the sandy sea.
Lenae has pinned her hope on a steadfast faith and is living with her family in Azerbaijan. Emily has followed her husband to exotic locations year after year, ready to open her eyes and soul to new cultures each time; she's going to Australia in a few weeks.
And those laughing English grandmas....
I take another deep breath and look towards the open window. A gust of humid, cool air touches my face. The world is out there, I think.
And I am in here.