On the plane I saw the couple I want us to become. Not today, not tomorrow, but the people we’ll grow up to be. And, I like how we’ll grow up to be them.
They wear glasses, the kind that focuses a gaze with intention, rather than confusion. White hair, both short, hers brushed back and his trimmed to match his beard. They wear thin sweaters that form-fit narrow waistlines and squared shoulders. They each carry a backpack as they smartly step up the narrow aisle of the Boeing 767. In spite of the packs that, I imagine, carry their camera, some granola bars and dark chocolate, a National Geographic, and a Frommer’s Guide, the load is unapparent. They are alert but unconcerned to their surroundings.
For two moments, she touches his shoulder just to calibrate their distance and step. She doesn’t need to.
Their oldest is in Boston now. They’re happy for her. They like her cramped apartment where a violin case leans against the wall next to the t.v. that rests on the same milk crate she used as a nightstand in graduate school. She’s happy, and while they still wonder if she’ll move back, they know that they never did. And besides, where is “back” now that they can leave the dog with the undergrad housesitter and fly to Ireland?
“The housesitter seems so much younger than Grace did as a sophomore,” she remarks. He listens and fiddles with the shade over the window, inserting an extra piece of shim he’s engineered from the SkyMall magazine’s back cover to keep it from sliding down.
Grace is two years younger than Anna and two years ahead. She finished vet school just like she finished homework right after she’d walked home from school in the fourth grade. She’s living with her partner outside of Ft. Collins, and in three months they’ll add a baby to the mix. This one will be a human, complimenting the goats and the alpaca.
The mother two rows in front of them sits down again after grabbing another toy off the floor, another cracker out of the bag. She looks forward towards the mother and fondly backwards in time. He glances up, smiles, then back at his guide book. The out-of-the-way public house was in the book after all. He scrunches his brow but curls the side of his mouth just like he did when he was 26. He points to the page and she smiles. Privately she’s relieved that there’s some endorsement from an authority other than her husband of 38 years.
This couple is sitting behind me, so I have no visual line; but I see them in front of me. Her hand is resting on his as we take off, just like it’s always been.