It happened so quickly as to be almost imperceptible and could more easily have been missed than been caught. It was as quick as it was gentle, organic, sweet and utterly heartwarming. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it.
We’d just eaten a delicious Indian dinner and had taken our place in a long line at the ice cream shop; me seeking to cleanse my palate with a tart yogurt. They had declined the opportunity to order anything for themselves, but would willingly sample my dessert when offered a spoonful (or two as the case may be).
Married for a mere fifty-seven years, they stood in comfortable, well-fed silence waiting for the rest of us to indulge when, with no fanfare or trace of contrivance, they exchanged a warm glance, their eyes sparkled and they gently touched noses. I felt goosebumps erupt on my arms and warmth run through me. It was a moment that I felt lucky to have witnessed, although admittedly, the intimacy of it forced me to reflexively turn away, allowing them a modicum of privacy among the waffle cones.
Just an Eskimo kiss…and one, I am willing to bet, was not the first or one they will even recall.
I have thought a lot about why this moment was so powerful to me. I’ve considered the fact that their relationship began exactly when my own parents’ did and how both unions are/were so solid. I’ve noted the ease with which they maneuver together and apart. There is, too, such a profound, unspoken understanding of strengths, weaknesses, quirks, foibles and neuroses that their dance is seamless and secure. Isn’t that what everyone ultimately wants?
Through these past few years of seemingly endless transitions, I am acutely aware of the comfort of sameness and the human need for a degree of consistency. Two people touching noses are two people who are in sync and, while they are well aware of the guaranteed certainty of uncertainty, they got this. It is that ease, that comfort, that even slim semblance of certainty which has eluded me. Observing it in others, however, brought me comfort and peace knowing that it still exists.
My son is my daughter. My marriage is no longer. I’m nearing the time when I enter a new decade. My home of twenty years is on the market, kept in a permanent state of immaculateness (sterility??) should someone be interested in traipsing through, judging every nook and cranny of the place that worked just fine for its four most recent inhabitants. I’m working on a (fuzzy, at best) plan for the next two years which, if history is worth a damn, are sure to be as irresolute as the last two.
With so much up in the air it can feel as though the chance of landing on something absolute will permanently evade you. And then you catch a nose rub in an ice cream shop…