It was an old love.
I don’t know how I knew it. I just did.
Maybe it was the way they held hands, less with a spark and more with a sense that their hands belonged together, that to separate them would be like severing a vital organ. Or maybe it was the way his arm went protectively around her as they left the subway station and walked up crowded stairs, holding firm against the onslaught of bodies that bumped and jostled.
They passed by a news stand featuring glossy magazines with covers that guaranteed sleek, well-chiseled bodies, amazing sex, and “real love” but while others were sucked in like dust in a vacuum, they were oblivious. It was as if our world’s obsession with “young lust” and “young love” did not faze them. They traveled in their world; a world that knew better.
Her – graying hair and a nondescript shirt, still agile but a careful agility.
Him – balding with the salt and pepper remains of what had once been a full head of hair. Taller than she, protective, aware, solicitous for her well-being.
Perhaps it was their wordless communication, their comfort, their lack of self-consciousness that told me it was an old love.
I have seen this kind of love in my parents and have observed in wonder. The look my mom will give my dad, a look that whispers so confidently of care and shared understanding that even strangers would know this was borne of a lifetime of loving. Or my dad, his strong body subject to the inevitable aging process yet always looking out for my mom’s safety.
My eyes misted over as I watched the couple, these with the old love, going their way. Misted because an old love is evidence of sacrifice and trial; hurt and healing; misunderstanding and forgiveness. A love that limps but still shouts of strength.
I turned away, thinking that as I age and my marriage ages with me, whether they see us on busy city streets or ocean rocks, I hope they will say “That is an old love.”