I first glimpsed them down the soup aisle. I was just running into the store for a few very specific things—I’d made a list before I dashed out the door, leaving the oven on and knowing I’d have to be back in an hour to stir the softening onions and work the bread a little more. I had no clue who they were but seeing them gave me a jolt of recognition. He was pushing the cart, and she was gesturing with her free hand, talking to him, their shopping list held firmly in the other. Generally, an older couple in their 80’s shopping together would pass with less notice, but they stood out in their matching cream and brown zip up sweaters. I grinned, hoping to see them again before I had to leave the store.
Two days before, Jeff and I once again passed the date of our first coffee hangout (tentatively known as our anniversary, but one we always remember is coming and then without fail forget about on the actual day). The date where I couldn’t remember his name, but as I pulled into the parking lot I saw him walking into the Colectivo, so I hopped out of the car and called saucily, ‘Heeey, you!’ hoping I covered my blunder. He turned, walked over, and gave me a hug, and I turned to get my pants out of the back of the car to do a surreptitious parking lot change out of my interview clothes. We had met earlier in the month, at a steampunk convention of all places, where I was the volunteer coordinator and he was working with his boys in the game room; I was told of his virtues many times over the weekend, so I asked if I could grab his butt (covered by a yummy kilt) before I left, then asked for his number. As a result of that auspicious beginning, we’d celebrated three years together on Monday and relationships—specifically the one I was involved and so unbelievably happy in—were constantly on my mind.
I grabbed sliced cheese and glanced down again at my own shopping list, resolving to find that couple again. Maybe I would take a photo, because they made me so happy. I made my journey to the other end of the store for stain remover a meandering one, glancing down each aisle as I passed—success! As soon as I saw them again I turned toward them. I had no need of cookies or crackers, but I just wanted to spend time basking in their Fair-Isle-coupley-glow. I decided on my trek from the cheese that I wouldn’t take a photo (as I impress upon the kids constantly that people have a right to privacy), and I chickened out on asking them for a photo, but I couldn’t help but comment to them how happy their sweaters made me, and how much I loved seeing them.
‘Oh, thank you!’ they chorused. The husband immediately made a joke about how they wear matching clothes so he can get help from the service counter in finding the right wife in case she loses him, and I mentioned, grinning, how I’d seen them earlier in the store and as a result had just finished texting my partner asking him if he would wear matching sweaters with me when we’re older. [Spoiler–I’d said ‘when we’re 90’. He responded ‘I got some time to think about it’]
‘Well,’ the wife looked at me doubtfully, ‘you’d have to learn how to knit.’
‘Oh! I do! I do know how to knit!’ I exclaimed. I was excited that I’d met a qualification for such an achievement.
Her husband chimed in, unzipping his sweater a bit, ‘It’s lined, look! And it’s wonderful to wear in almost any weather!’ His joy in his wife and their relationship made me grin wider, if that was even possible.
From that point I don’t remember much of what I said. I could feel my cheeks pinkening in pleasure as I stood there, paused from my shopping for my family, talking with a couple who have so likely made it through so much. Their relationship is one that I aspire to daily. Maybe I won’t insist on the matching sweaters, but it’s not often you see such an obvious, beautiful sign of love and connection, and I feel so privileged to be part of a relationship that holds the same. Just the night before Jeff and I had been talking about how if we can hold on until we’re 91, we’ll have been together 60 years. It’s a good goal. I can knit for our great grandkids and he can spend time puttering in his workshop, and we can take shuffling walks in the mornings when its warm and eat breakfast together. I wish I had asked them their names, and their ages, and how long they’ve been together. I wish I’d asked for a picture so I could share their joy with you as I experienced it.
As I walked on, taking my leave, I heard him call back down to me just before I turned out of the aisle in search of my stain remover. I turned back to see a huge grin, two thumbs up, and hear a robust ‘I’m a lucky, lucky man!’ You are, sir. So lucky. And so am I.
‘Til next time,