Monday, June 28, 2004

i want to grow old with you

WW and I were at outside at Cafe Paris yesterday, respectively studying and writing, or as WW likes to put it, "diligenting." It was a pretty day out, as it has been lately, the weather choosing to show little angst.

A rather short stretch, this Main Street lends itself to seeing the same people go by. I saw this elderly couple pass by one way, remarking in our direction how people still do homework these days. A half hour later they were back, peering over WW's shoulder at mcat madness, the old gent asking, "Can I see what you're studying there?" and we entered into a little chat.

After expressing surprise at our having graduated and hanging out on this Main Street, the man exclaimed, "Look at us! You're from Rhode Island, you're from North Carolina, she [pointing at his wife] is from Hawaii and I'm from Brooklyn. And --" gesturing at the street with a hint of glee, "we're here!" He had worked for Ford in the forties. His wife was 80-something. Early in their marriage, she had wanted to go back to Hawaii so badly, but he couldn't afford it. She said, "Take me to JFK Airport." She went around to the airlines, looking to see what she could find, and ended up being hired by American Airlines. Now they have a pass that lets them fly whenever and they've been to Hawaii at least 25 times.

She wanted to take her husband out to dinner, treat him like royalty, he quips. They went to Burger King and then Dairy Queen for dessert. They walked away after awhile, hand in hand, in no rush. Because what is there to rush about, really? We watched them cross the street slowly over to the other half of Main Street. They could have been characters for a commercial, a sappy made-for-TV movie. And while I had been sitting there, regarding this couple before me, wondering for a few seconds, "But you must have had some trouble in your lives" in the somewhat insistent manner you wonder where you put that thing that you know was there five minutes ago.

Yet, watching them leave, I saw that these thoughts were inconsequential in a way, because everybody has their troubles in life. And sometimes, we are granted beautifully simple glimpses of not how things should be but how things are, of two people, holding hands, strolling down a street one pleasant afternoon. It's no earthquake.

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