While not strictly necessary, the drive does us good.
Two inches of snow have fallen this evening; while the roads are passable, the landscape is an etched wonderland of pristine and ephemeral beauty. The snow fell too late to be marred by the myriad feet of children, squirrels, and birds; it lies still and pure.
We spend an hour driving around this place we are soon to leave, my love and I. It is after midnight; we share the road only with cinder trucks.
We talk: her old car accident, my great-grandmother's funeral. Simple, honest talk - a background and excuse for the visual feast crafted over but a few short hours.
Somehow - by processes at once both mystical and natural - this place of cookie-cutter houses and uninspired architecture has become a fairyland eliciting unfeigned ooohs and aaahs. We interrupt each other to call attention to an exquisitely adorned stand of tress, to a small bush illuminated, transformed by snow and streetlight into a thing of unique beauty.
Occasionally, she is scared. A brief hint of a skid evokes a reflexive fear summoned up from an unknown - or at least unnamed - source. It's not uncommon in our relationship for such unexpected reactions to bubble up out of either of us. Veterans of prior relationships, our emotional baggage - the trash of our past - is both extensive and varied.
When we return, the dog and I venture into our backyard, and I nearly forget that it's cold. The yard ends in a sparse woodline; one where the winter months convey a feeling of neglect. The bare branches and dead leaves had - prior to tonight - their disarray accentuated by litter; Wal-Mart bags and scattered cardboard boxes ugly ornaments upon a macabre Christmas tree. Now, though, they are invisible; the snow has covered them.
I call her outside, wanting her to share in the sight of this place transformed.
"I just had to drag you out here; it's too beautiful."
She looks about while my arm slides around her, and I'm startled to discover I'm thinking of my ex-wife.
Something has triggered it, this remnant, this trash from my last serious relationship, and I find myself anxious. She - my ex-wife - would degrade this view. She would remember the trash, remember that it's there, just under the surface. The view would therefore be worthless to her, and we would fight over my calling her outside into the cold.
I look at my love, and feel the trash float against the inside of my skull.
She turns, kissing me.
"It's beautiful," she says, and the snow begins to fall in my mind.
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