11. Write 52 Love Notes to One Man

Tucked somewhere deep in the attic of my parents home is a brown cardboard box, the corner labeled Love Letters. That box is filled to overflowing with cards and letters that were sent the many miles from Dryden, Ontario, Canada, to Fair Play, South Carolina, and back again. While my mom and dad were dating and later, engaged, they lived hours and hours apart. With limited phone calls and visits, hand written letters was a major part of how they got to know each other.
Even though I don't know the stories hidden away in the box, I've always thought it was a gem. The yellowed paper, brittle, valuable.
Fast forward quite a few years and I'm dating Herm. But our relationship was completely different than that of my parents. Instead of long distance, we saw each other daily. We were coworkers who attended the same church and for the most part had the same group of friends. Instead of years of getting to know each other better before committing to forever, we dated for three months and were engaged for four. We had known each other for only 13 months before we said I do.
Sure, we left each other notes once in a while, but for the most part those notes were sent via text or written on a scrap of paper or neon sticky note -- nothing nearly as extensive as that box hidden so deep in the attic.
My goal for the 52 love notes was simple; I would write one per week for the entire year. I'm not a hopeless romantic...  so please, when I say I wrote love notes, don't imagine sheets of unlined paper and perfectly penned beautiful never-ending words. The reality looked more like this: I love you, scribbled onto a napkin tucked into his lunchbox, or Today I am thankful for you! <3, scratched on a sheet of notebook paper.  It was nothing fancy. And, unfortunately, while I only have about two more weeks before my deadline for the list is here, I still have a good 10 - 15 more notes to write.
But last night happened, and I have this feeling last night could have counted for at least a half dozen of those unwritten notes...
We had dinner plans with friends, Carson was going to Papa's house. (My dad is his  hero, and he is always so excited when he gets to go see his grandpa.) It was beautiful outside, remarkably warm for this time of year, and I wanted to finish up some painting before I got ready to leave for the night. As I was brushing a coat of white over the door propped on sawhorses out by the garage, Herm came out to let me know he was going to go for a quick hunt on our property before we left. He still had about two hours. I didn't say anything, but seriously, wouldn't that ruin our plans if he did get a deer? Wouldn't we have to stay home and gut the thing instead of enjoying a delicious meal with friends?
Herm came in just as it was getting dark. He didn't say a word, so I asked. Well, did you see anything? Yeah, three deer. Did you shoot? Yeah. Did you hit it? Yeah. You killed a deer?! Act excited about it, Babe! That's meat in the freezer. He just smiled mischievously and said, I wanted to see if you would ask. 
This didn't cancel our dinner plans. We still went out and had a lovely evening. But after dinner was over and we were heading home, I went to pick up Carson while Herm came back to our house to start searching for the doe.
He hadn't found the doe by the time I came back home, so after I tucked Carson into bed I pulled on an old pair of yoga pants, slipped into hiking boots three sizes too big for me, and stomped off to the dark woods, like a real outdoors women, in search of a blood trail.
By the light of our iPhones and a headlamp that seemed to grow dimmer with each passing minute, we hunted, the trail growing faint at times, next to impossible to see. Briers and burrs tore at my skin and got caught in my hair,  but still we pressed on. (I know I am making this seem like a real adventure, right? Don't ask me how close we were to our house. That detail makes the story seem less extreme.)
About 20-30 minutes after I joined Herm, I kept noticing a bush with thick undergrowth. It looked like mangled roots, but my light wasn't bright enough to see exactly what it was... My gaze kept going back that direction, and that's when I saw it — the faint, dark outline of a hoof. Babe, I found it. You mean you found her?! He asked. No, "it", I thought. Her sounds too gruesome and heartless.
I got a kiss for my help in tracking the doe, and then I got to watch, help even, as Herm butted and gutted "her".
And I'll just tell you outright, as there's a high chance you may have never had the pleasure of experiencing this first hand, butting and gutting is awful. Not only is there blood everywhere, but the smell —oh the smell!— and in my pregnant state, where scents are ten times more intense than normal, this was bad, real bad. The calamari and tortellini I had so enjoyed just a few hours prior was churning. I somehow managed to hold myself together, and as the hour hand on the clock neared 11pm, I checked for ticks, showered, and fell in to bed exhausted and humored. My love for that handsome hunter obviously runs deep, because you certainly wouldn't have found me in the woods late at night, butting and gutting, unless it was with someone I truly loved.
Yes, this surely was worth more than six love notes written on little neon squares.


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