Young Lovers seek perfections,
Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together,
and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.
-How To Make An American Quilt
Walking along the path of one of my favorite local hiking trails, I sat for a bit to watch some squirrels perform their comedy act along the leaves on the ground.
I could watch the squirrels for hours… hence my logo, but I digress.
An older couple that I’ve seen along the trail feeding the squirrels several times sat on the opposite side of the clearing.
The squirrels definitely knew who provided the treats and were off to beg from the right people.
At first I started watching the squirrels but soon I realized that I was totally watching the couple.
The way they interacted was mesmerizing, almost as if I was watching a silent movie.
She reached into her bag with a large painted sunflower on the side, pulling out a sack and handing it to the man.
For a moment it seemed like everything stopped frozen when their eyes met, hands touching far longer than was necessary to pass the baggie and their eyes spoke volumes to one another. The chattering of squirrels getting impatient for their snack broke the spell and they smiled widely at the animals clamoring for their treat.
As he tossed bread crumbs and baked goods to the squirrels, one of her hands came to gently rest with just her pinky and ring fingers resting along his thigh and the other three on her leg.
The squirrels looked like the Three Stooges with their antics trying to gather and stash their prizes.
The old man laughed such a carefree joyful chuckle that it brought a smile to my face just to hear him. His wife looked at him and you could almost see the electricity of the deep burning love and pride she felt for this man.
It struck me watching them go about enjoying their day made up of small and beautiful expressions of love…
Everyone has a love story.
We have all lived stories wilder than the movies, more intense than the steamiest romance novels filled with passion and fell in love.
Yes, even that really mean cranky lady at the market has a great story to tell.
I imagined this couple in their early twenties.
She was stunning without a hair out of place as she hung on his every word. He was tall with a quick wit and a dashing smile to match. They were making plans to take on the world together.
They were married, bought a house, had some kids and she volunteered on the PTA. They walked their dogs every night as a family. They went to bingo, the kids grew and soon the couple wished their house was loud and full again. Longing for the summer they spent all those weeks in the car together touring the national parks. Every picture shot at Mount Rushmore someone was pretending to pick the monuments nose, their nose or the nose of a sibling. At the time, a slow form of torture but now what they wouldn’t give for more of those sweet days.
He tucked a piece of her short salt and pepper hair behind her ear letting his fingers gently slide down the curve of her jaw line every so slowly. He reached into his pocket pulling out a brightly wrapped piece of hard candy, kisses it and places it into her hand.
The conversation between their eyes was almost palpable.
She unwrapped the candy with a coy smile putting it into her mouth and twisted the wrapper around her finger like a grade school girl.
With each wrinkle a memory, a badge of honor, a road map of a beautiful life, each one of them loved and appreciated a million times more than even the moment that they promised forever to each other.
Every movement between them so fluid and natural as if they practiced this magical interaction to be flawless. She shifted her weight, leaning into his side and he reached his arm around her to pull her closer.
He sat there watching the critters and she had her head leaned into him with her eyes closed. The comfort of snuggling into the smell of the one you love, listening to their heart beat rhythmically in time with your own so that it’s hard to tell who belongs to which.
He said something about getting to the other bench to see her birds before the sun beat them there.
It startled me a bit to hear his voice because it felt a bit like I had been watching a living painting.
They moved on to where the nests are presumably to watch the birds or get away from that stalker in the woods with them.
Soul mates, the right combination, magic.
Truth is that even if you marry that amazing soul mate, marriage takes work, compromise and determination.
It’s not all long stem roses, romantic trips and butterflies in your stomach moments.
Even soul mates have to wade through the trenches and pitfalls together to see what they are made of.
The land of responsibility, car payments, diaper changes, mortgages, investments and backed up plumbing while the dog is tossing her kibbles all over the couch gives a certain spice to life.
Ironically folks, these are the days we wish to hold on to.
All the nights up worrying together over a child or how to pay a bill. Bearing the hardships and celebrating all the wins as a team. Carefully planning and suffering unspeakable losses together. Always keeping that bond strong, tight and willing to take the time to carefully mend it when it is torn.
I have no clue about these people in the park.
If they have kids or even are married but the love and respect they show for each other is humbling.
I sat there watching the squirrels race around making sure that the other squirrels had not found their stash places and thought about My Handsome Prince.
I could easily see myself with long grey hair trying not to get run over by The Handsome Prince driving his overhauled electric Rascal scooter demanding I watch him off road his crazy and take out some pine cones. He’ll be the one trying to hit the squirrels with the bread and teaching the grand kids how to fart with their arm pits. I imagine that he will always be a bit like Peter Pan, a quality that is so endearing and even more wonderful as the grey hair is becoming more prominent.
No one is perfect but we try really hard to be great people for the ones we love.
Our love story is my favorite and I’ll be sure to tell our great grandchildren over and over until their ears could fall off. More importantly,” Watch out for GranPop! If he grabs a gas can, just grab a fire extinguisher and try not to let him out of your sight!”
Yup, even a couple of mixed nuts like us have a fabulous love story.
As we go through life let’s keep in mind that this is not a sprint. We’re signing up for the longest, toughest, and at times the most frustrating years of our lives.
I want to be that old grey couple radiating so much love that people scream “Get a room!”
Those are the fruits of our labors today.
The evenings spent being honest and being heard. Compromising while treating each others beliefs or feelings with respect. The times we say we’re sorry and admit that we made a mistake. Moments spent holding each other up and together. So close that you can look into each others eyes and see right into their heart. It takes work to go the distance but when two people are committed to the goal magic can happen.
He has been part of my life for over half my life.
It would be my honor to be by his side so long that we can’t hear a thing, every joint creaks like it needs grease and we frequently leave our teeth any place but in our mouths. It’s what we work for, it’s in how we treat each other. Both knowing that this is the time we stand back to back to hold it all together so that we have the rest of our lives to lovingly stroll side by side when there is nothing but love and a deep commitment requiring that we wake each morning with our soul mate.
Love is an extraordinary emotion making people capable of amazing things, acts of stupidity and powerful action.
Disney cuts away from the fairy tale just as it’s about to get real.
Even soul mates have to walk through the flames and make sure to pay their taxes.
Making a life, creating dreams and achieving goals is hard as one single person. Now ask two people to come together for the rest of their life promising to try to see it eye to eye, learning how to respectfully disagree and still parent people in spite of differences while retaining their individuality and stitching back together strips of a beautiful life in the natural ebb and flow of a relationship… now that’s a challenge.
The older man’s rich laugh was carried by the wind and even the squirrels looked up to see if their marvelous benefactor had returned.
I bet they still have to work on their relationship too.
She rolls her eyes that his socks don’t make it to the hamper and he swears if he sits on her kitting needles one more time she’ll have to stop making cat sweaters.
Soul Mates, friendships, the relationships we keep in our life are incredibly important and worth a bit of extra loving understanding we can muster.
These relationships just don’t happen, they are created and tended to over time.
Maybe I’m just nuts. Maybe the squirrels have gone to my head but if you want to build a house, ya can’t just sit by the logs complaining. You have to dig in and do the hard work.
It’s worth a bit of sweat to spend a lifetime with the star of your love story… your soul mate, better half and at times the one you want to point to and say I’m with stupid.
Totally worth it, every last bit.