Dear Young Couple,
I don’t personally know you, but I spent 45 minutes observing you last week.
Wait. I’m not some stalking psycho. Before you reach for a can of pepper spray or notify the authorities, please allow me to explain.
You were standing in line at a tourist attraction and my family was behind you. Do you remember those beautiful blue-eyed children who whined about the wait and took turns begging to climb onto that poor man’s shoulders while his wife said the words, “don’t” and “stop” 375 times?
Yes, that was us.
I first noticed your high heels, young lady. As I admired them, I was reminded of the days when I could tour a museum or wait in a line for hours in stylish pumps. I glanced down at my New Balance tennis shoes secretly lined with Dr. Scholl’s arch supports.
Your young beau wore a hoodie donning that complicated word that I always wrongly pronounce as “arrow apostle”. He violently twitched his neck to remove the shaggy bangs from his eyes and although he shifted from one neon-colored tennis shoe to the other, his young, smooth baby-like hands remained steady on your tiny, tight, 20-year-old waist which I assume has yet to be riddled with stretch marks that resemble wilted grapes. As he pulled you closer to him, I pulled my sweatshirt down so that it would successfully conceal my muffin top.
He whispered something into your ear attached to a large peacock feather earring- probably one of your many exciting inside jokes- and you laughed and buried your head into his chest.
Last week, that waiting line was a very different place for us than it was for you.
We didn’t hold hands. We held maps, tickets, diaper bags and children. My shoulder was my only body part that touched my husband, and that was solely because I needed to lean my exhausted body against his. We didn’t tell inside jokes because they have become as stale as the half-eaten toast our kids leave on the kitchen table. I made a mental note to schedule the kid’s hair appointments after school on Thursday. We moved ahead half an inch and I snapped my fingers and put on the stern mommy face that silently alerts our son to “get back over here right now”. I sent myself a text reminding me to mail the electric bill when we got home, I instructed our daughter to straighten her bored, slouching shoulders and I dryly mentioned her upcoming orthodontist appointment to my better half. I read all of the signage on the walls, shifted my hefty purse from one aching shoulder to the other and focused again on you.
He placed his hand on the small of your back and kissed you again. You pulled away and smiled at him the way goofy girls always smile at goofy boys whom they hope will stick around. Young girl, you probably look at that kid and see the white picket fence, the future children with his dimples and your auburn hair, the family vacations, the orthodontist and haircut appointments.
But do you see the reality of it all?
Did you see us?
Don’t get me wrong; our love is definitely still alive, stronger now than when we were your age. Our love has been reinforced by the birth of children and pretending to be Santa and cleaning baby poop from the carpet and prayer and fifteen years of life together, but the butterflies just don’t flutter like they used to. We don’t enthusiastically wheel the luggage to the cabin or view waiting lines as romantic.
We are the old couple.
We are your future.
Dear young girl, I don’t know if you’ll marry the boy with the neck twitch and the arrow apostle hoodie. Dear young boy, I don’t know if your neon sneakers will forever rest next to her pumps. I don’t know if your love will produce children. But I do know that you should hold onto these youthful moments. Hold onto what you had in that waiting line. Hold onto the jokes, the laughs, the unapologetic PDA.
Hold onto one another.
My Feet Still Hurt