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  • “How the faces of love change, turning the pages
    And I have changed, oh but you, you remain ageless
    I turned around and the water was closing all around
    Like a glove, like the love that had finally, finally found me

    And then I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you
    Drove me through the mountains
    Through the crystal like a clear water fountain
    Drove me like a magnet, to the sea, to the sea
    To the sea yeah, to the sea yeah”

    By Stevie Nicks, Crystal
    As they rode in the back of David’s car, Hank’s heart was beating so fast he could barely contain it. But, he maintained his cool, as best he could. He was glad that he’d gotten a sunburn laying out in that clearing by the river meditating for a few hours earlier, because it hid the fact that he was blushing. It just felt so unreal to be sitting there with the one true love of his life, one he had completely removed from his mind and thoughts for over two years, so convinced was he that it was completely over between them, that his impossible dream of them together could never, ever be.

    But now, here they were, and everything was right with the world. This was the real miracle of his journey through Canada – that lovely lady in Cheticamp, Gretchen, had unlocked the cage in his mind where he had locked all thoughts of Megan away and thrown away the key. She had opened up his mind, his heart, and his soul, and helped him to see that maybe, just maybe, a shred of hope was still alive for Hank to find love in this life.

    But, he was much, much older and wiser now than he was the first time this lovely creature had made him feel such overwhelming and overpowering thoughts of lifetime love in her presence. He must be cool. He must not blow it – whatever “it” was.
  • This one was so much different than any other girl he’d met, before or since he first met her. She was so freakin’ intelligent, such a bright mind, and so driven. He hadn’t been around her long enough when he’d fallen in love with her to even hear what it was that drove her so, as he’d erupted and overflowed in his love for her, and sent her packing to the hills before any of that could have been revealed. Such an idiot of a fool he was, then.

    But, Hank was no longer that stupid, naive boy who knew no better. He was a man of the world now. He’d learned to control his sometimes raging emotions. But, left to his own devices, he wouldn’t have even deemed himself worthy of being in the presence of such a rare beauty as Megan. Gretchen’s prompting is what led him here, to this moment, and he was just so humbly grateful to be here in it, here with Megan.

    He’d been with enough women now to know how rare she truly was. She was one in a million, maybe more. So, he took the time to get to know who she was now, what had changed as she grew from that budding 17 year old that he had scared the shit out of, to this mature 19 year old woman who seemed to know exactly what she wanted in the world.

    She really hadn’t changed much at all, as far as he could tell. She was still perfect, in Hank’s mind. He knew he wasn’t worthy of her – but, would just see what this chapter held in store for him, and her, and maybe – just maybe – them. But, he was going to take his time, this time.

    It didn’t take long to discover that she was still not with anyone. She wasn’t dating. There wasn’t an old boyfriend. She was still on her own. God, how was that possible? Hank learned that she had a dream, one that she was singularly focused on, a dream to become a female commercial pilot. She wanted to fly. This was 1975 – you didn’t see too many of them around, then.
  • She was beginning her sophomore year of college, going to Georgian Court College, an all girls Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Mercy, in South Jersey, not far from where Hank’s folks now lived. She was such a catholic girl! The college was relatively close to McGuire Air Force Base, which was important to Megan. She planned to get her degree at Georgian Court, then join the Air Force as an officer, where she would get the thousands of hours of flying time she would need to qualify to fly commercial jets.

    Hank still loved everything about her. They spent practically every waking moment together that weekend – it just happened naturally. They even slept together in the tent, though she slept beside him, each in their own sleeping bag. He was certain that she was still a virgin, and he was not about to push her anywhere she didn’t want to go. He still had no idea how it was possible that they were back together, but he knew for sure that he wasn’t going to do anything to blow this new thing they had found together, whatever the hell it was.

    He also knew for certain he was not going to mutter the words that were already forming again in the back of his mind – that he loved her. No freaking way! He had learned his lesson. He just thanked the good lord that somehow, some way, he had found his way back into her orbit. He would bide his time, and just enjoy any moment he could spend with this most beautiful creature he’d ever known.
  • Someone was playing guitar by the campfire, strumming Cat Stevens’ song “Father and Son” – Hank jumped in and sang the part of the son, while someone else sang the part of the father. This song had so captured the relationship he’d had with his father, that last year before he’d joined the Navy, when Hank was so full of the piss and vinegar of youth, hormones erupting out of his skin, while his father was trying his level best to make it in the corporate headquarters world of the Traveler’s Insurance company, at his most conservative properness – the inevitable generational war between them had been epic.

    “You always loved that song”, Megan said, as she snuggled in next to him. “How are things with your father these days?”

    “Not a whole lot better – calmed down, for sure, but we still can’t stand each other. I always feel like he’s just sitting back, smugly waiting for me to fail. That’s probably one of the things that drives me to succeed. Just to show him – I can do this.” She laughed, and said, “You know, I've always loved your fighting spirit.”

    Damn, did she really use the “L” word? That night was the closest to heaven that Hank felt he’d ever been, just being there with her, learning who she was, revealing who he was. He honestly didn't feel like she had changed all that much - just grown more fully into who she was. He, on the other hand, had been to hell and back, and all around limbo, only to find himself in this night of heaven by the campfire.

    He closed his eyes and breathed it all in - the smell of the campfire, the smell of the surrounding trees and the pine needles under the feet, the smell of her, here in his arms. He hoped to freeze this moment for all of eternity. God, he did love this girl. He could have died right then and there, and his life would have been complete.
    Photos by Josefa Holland-Merten, Mr. Marco, Joshua Earle, and Kim Daniel, c/o
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