1976

We played Mary and Joseph in the school play.

Morning kindergarten for me. Afternoon for him. We would file past the church pews, walking the red carpet that kept us on the straight and narrow, arranged by height, me second to the front, him at the end.

1988

I wore a pink t-shirt with exaggerated shoulder pads, beige, pleated khaki pants, ballet flats, and a pink scarf wrapped in my hair.

“Should we go on the paratrooper?” he asked.

The amusement park hummed with high-pitched chatter and squeals. The evening vibrated with summer’s energy, and I wiped the July heat from my face.

“Absolutely.”

I dug my toes into the flats in fear of losing one as the purple sparkled umbrella-topped carriage swung through the air, gliding over the trees. I hid my chin into his shoulder. He held my hand, and we laughed.

1994

The hospital lights flickered with long tube fluorescent bulbs, and there was a constant humming on the ground floor near our offices. It was the second day of my internship.

I was paying attention to the signs on the walls, speaking under my breath as my supervisor walked two steps ahead.

“Left, long hallway, right,” I whispered, turning the corner.

Thud.

My face ran into his chest.

“Robbie?”

He picked me up, swung me around the too-narrow hallway, my legs spun wide and uncontrolled like a

wireframe hoop skirt.

“Put me down. Put me down.”

My supervisor stared.

“It’s my second day. Put me down.”

“I didn’t know you worked here,” he said.

“I just started my internship,” I replied, rubbing the sting off my nose.

We stood there awkwardly, staring at each other.

“It was nice seeing you,” I said. Very nice. He looked the same. Still sweet, still handsome. His face always made me smile.

“You too.”

“Got to go,” I said and ran after my supervisor, who had turned the next corner down the hall.

Brring

“Hello? Oh, hi. Yes. Ok. that sounds great. Ok.” I twirled the phone cord around my finger for the three-second call, then hung up.

“Who was that?” My mother asked.

“Rob,” I replied. “He called to see if I wanted to go out.”

“Oh, Robbie,” she referred to his elementary school name, “when are you going out?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t ask me. He just wanted to know if I would say yes.”

1995

“We’re going to miss the sunset,” I said as we drove to the beachside of the peninsula.

“That’s fine. I just want to talk anyways.”

The direct flight home from North Carolina led me straight into his arms at the airport.

“Four months was too long to go without seeing you.” I squeezed his hand as we walked the dunes to a bench near the shoreline.

“I want you to know that I will always be here for you.”

“I know,” I said.

“I mean. No matter what,” he stammered. “I’ve done a lot of thinking the last few months.”

“Oh my god, are you breaking up with me?” I shouted, making sure he could hear me over the crashing waves.

“No. No!” He got down on one knee. “I’m asking you to marry me.”

I swung my arms around his neck, knocked the ring out of his hand and into the sand.

“Yes.”

1999

“You sit. I’ll bring dinner over.”

He handed me the plate, which I promptly placed on my pregnant belly.

“A few more months, thank goodness. I am ready for this kid to be here and for your med school to be over,” I said in between bites.

“I know, hon.”

“Do you think our routine is going to change completely?”

“Probably a little,” he said.

We sat in silence, watching Wings and Supermarket Sweep before he returned to studying.

2020

The road home felt longer than 2 and 1/2 hours. Our three-row vehicle seats ached with emptiness, and the house felt bare even though our sighs filled the room.

“Should we watch a show with dinner?” I asked.

“Sure,” he replied softly.

“It’s like we are back where we started,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied. “But we have had such a life in the middle.”

“We have,” he paused. “I miss the boys, but this is good.” He looked at me. His face made me smile.

Yes, I thought, because this is what love looks like.

Love Through The Ages was last modified: by

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