With a lacksidasical gait, Mariah made her way through a familiar field. She stopped momentarily to adjust her back pack, containing a picnic lunch, a large bottle of water, and her art supplies. It had been awhile since she had returned, all due to four years of college, medical school, and then working at a prestigious hospital for three years. It had been challenging and rewarding to be a top pediatrician. She always had loved children and one day, she would have some of her own. Now if only she could meet the right guy. But most she dated thought a lot of her time seemed devoured at work, with meetings and lectures outside of the hospital environment. She had always been a high achiever, but lately, even doing all of this didn't feel satisfying anymore. Mariah felt lonely and was in need of comfort. She wanted a man, a home, and a new way to give back to others. She felt like something went missing in her life.
"Come on out to the farm awhile," her mother had encouraged. "Springtime is here and it's always so pretty outside. The fresh air will do you some good."
And so Mariah took her up on it and scheduled vacation time. After a good night's sleep in her old bedroom and a hearty breakfast with her parents, she decided to traipsed about the old homestead, that once belonged to her maternal grandmother. Out through the back porch and past the garden of root vegetables, she went. The warm breeze swept through her bangs. She could feel the sun upon her brow and she felt glad she had placed sunscreen on. To guide her way, a lone, barb wire fence with faded wood posts stretched for several miles.
Mariah walked until she could make out a familiar tree with pink & white flowers. It stood tall against the backdrop of tall grass and roving sheep. She hurried up her pace to get there and to one side, she noted a couple of rabbits spring forward to find another hiding place. Now upon the tree, she also noted on the other side a pair of boots and someone in blue jeans and a teeshirt. This made her stop just as the person heard her footsteps. He stood up, tall and handsome, with fair brown eyes and a tan face. He had dropped his own sketch pad and scooped it up again. His eyes met hers with a quizzical expression that turned into recognition. A smile burst wide as he rushed to greet her with open arms.
"Mariah! Gosh, it's been forever! When did you get back?"
"Mark? Mark Johnson," Mariah gasped, now recognizing a former neighbor, one that once lived on the other side of that long barb wire fence. She breathed in the great aftershave cologne he wore. She felt muscles in his arms that might squeeze the breath out of her. He sounded too ecstatic to see her again. He pulled back, his eyes bright, to look her over.
"Wow! I haven't seen you since high school. You're even more beautiful than I remember," he said as he plopped back to the ground, upon a huge blanket, "What happened to the kid who wore pigs tails and could out wrestle the old gang?"
"I grew up!" she said, almost embarrased by his compliment, and found a spot to sit beside him. She noted his chalk and pencil supplies laying scattered, along with a picnic lunch as well, "So...how are you? And what are you doing here? I didn't expect to find anyone out this way."
"Ah, I love this spot, with the shade and the strong fragrance of those flowers. Your mama always gave me permission to roam about. I come out here just to refresh myself with the sunshine and to draw."
"I've noticed. I had the same idea. See," she opened up her back pack and took out the items, feeling relaxed to do so. She had known him as a kid, but he was a year older and once he graduated, he had left the area, like most teens did, frustrated with a small town, "So where have you been since school?"
"Living out in California for awhile. I went to college on a sports scholarship. I just moved in with my mom. My dad died last year and I swore I'd never come back here, but she needs my help around the old farm. Besides, the community has grown, with the industry center off the tracks booming. It's drawing people in and with big people, come little people. That's what helps me pay the bills."
"Really? I'm a pediatrician. Are you?" she gasped, reeling over this information. When she saw him nod, she really felt how odd the similarities of their background and education, "Wow! It's amazing how much we have in common!"
"Yeah, right? I opened up an office near the mall. Great location, lots of ample room for growth, and I've been swamped. It doesn't give me a lot of time to socialize and that bugs my mother. She wants grandchildren," he laughed and then looked serious, "However, I'm advertising for a partner. Hmmmm, you wouldn't know of someone in your group that might be interested?"
Mariah stretched out her legs and tried to look composed. Within two minutes, she felt something come alive inside. Here was a guy she recalled being funny, smart, and sensitive. A hard worker and dedicated. Sometimes just working with someone, day in and day out, one could really get to know them inside and out, upside down and backwards. She wasn't happy in her current local or her life. And he had come home to help out his mother in need. What a guy! And they both loved art and children. Could this get any better?
"Well, Mark, how about me? I could use a change of scenery," she suggested and she tried not to smile, but couldn't help it. He couldn't either and he suddenly reached for her hand.
"Wow!" he remarked and looked up at the sky, "This seems to be a miracle."
"Why's that?" she asked, peering into his eyes. He seemed to soak hers in, melting on the spot.
"Because when I draw, I like to pray. I usually pray for others or the world's plight, always putting something before me, but today, I apologized for being a little selfish. I asked God to help me find a terrific doctor, one with a great love for children, and perhaps throw in someone to walk into my life for marriage and children, someone who would love my family, my faith, this community, this work, and this place as much as I do. All of these things, take time and commitment. Do you think Mariah... that you are my answer?"
She heaved a sigh, feeling that if she had been given a chance to draw alone that morning and just happened to pray, she might have been selfish too, asking for the opportunity for a change to come along to breathe revitalization into her life again. With Mark squeezing her hand so tight, she knew he was the opportunity.
"Yes, Mark. I do," she whispered, knowing one day in the near future, she would say the exact thing at a special time and place.