Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rosie-Colored Glasses

I enjoy people watching.

It is probably more grammatically correct to say that I enjoy watching people, but "people watching" just sounds better...and somehow less stalky. 

I think I learned this behavior from my Dad. Sometimes when we'd have Father/Daughter outings, he'd make up stories for me about the people around us on the highway or in a store or in line at the bank.  Once we were cruising down Interstate 45, headed to Galveston for a day of fishing (yes, fishing-- Dad wasn't sure what my interests were), and he noticed a couple driving a camper in the next lane.  He decided their names were Jim & Rosie.  He told me that Jim & Rosie criss-crossed the countryside in their little camper, regaling new friends with their travel tales and delighting their tastebuds with Rosie's famous campfire biscuits.  Jim, the perfect gentleman who adored his wife...and Rosie, the perfect little homemaker, even on the road.

I am not making this up, although he certainly was. 

It's funny, the things we learn from our parents.  It's likely he was just filling the silence or trying to prevent my incessant rambling, but I loved that he made up stories for me while we people watched.  It was vastly preferable to his concerted attempts to embarrass me-- whether that was by pretending to trip on a curb when crossing the street downtown, or by loudly singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" while driving through our neighborhood with the windows down, or by telling perfect strangers that I took dance lessons.  Dad loved to make people laugh and if he could embarrass me by doing so, all the better.

I like to watch people in their quiet moments, when they are unaware they are being observed, like an elusive snow leopard chasing a mountain goat, or a chimpanzee studiously picking his nose.  Or like a human being doing either of those things, and preferably with a tissue.

Once I was in the drive-thru at Starbucks and noticed an older couple seated at a table inside, talking.  I was pulled up parallel to the window, and while I could see the woman's face, the man had his back to me.  She appeared to be in her early 80's...and she was animatedly telling a story.  Her eyes were flashing and she was smiling and gesturing and I could kind of see what she must have looked like when she was young.  The late afternoon sunlight was falling through the window onto her creased face and I thought to myself that she was quite beautiful as she spoke.

And then the man seated across from her reached out and gently caressed her face while she talked.  His wedding ring actually glinted in the shaft of sunlight.

It was lovely. 

It was so private and caring...and in that moment, my head made up an amazing love story for the two of them that involved ill-timed wars, hardships, laughter in the rain, and a wrap-around porch covered in grandkids, rocking chairs and cats.  My mind told me these two people had weathered the good and bad times and still loved each other with such force that he couldn't help but touch her face when she spoke.  The quiet, comfortable stillness between them was gorgeous.

(Nevermind that I was thinking of World War I or II and the timing would be totally off.  Clearly my Mathtardedness doesn't hinder my imagination.  I know this because when I imagined the lifetime of these two people who were sitting in full-color right in front of me, I imagined them in black & white.)

I never did see the man's face.  The line in front of me moved, I pulled up to the window, paid for my skinny vanilla latte, and headed to my then-empty home.  I started crying in the car because I so desperately wanted what those two people had...or rather what I imagined they had.  For all I know they were on their second date and he was making her uncomfortable by touching her and infringing on her bubble. Or perhaps, this was Jim & Rosie thirty-five years later... and the camper was resting comfortably in the parking lot.  Maybe in his twilight years, Jim developed a fondness for scones that Rosie's campfire biscuits simply couldn't satisfy. 

It was late March 2011.  I had received a couple of communications through eHarmony from a man named Derek who lived in a town I'd never heard of somewhere in the mountains.  He had kind eyes, a thoughtfully written profile...and I had been ignoring him for weeks.  Earlier that day I had exasperatedly asked Yoda (my shrink) just exactly where Sedalia was anyway in the hope that it was too far... and I realized that for some time, I had been looking for reasons to stop trying to date.  I was close to giving up on the kind of love I had sought for a lifetime... and quite possibly, it was sitting in my eHarmony inbox with dimples and a love for mountain biking and dogs.

I went home, curled up with my laptop, opened Derek's email, and replied by asking him if we could skip all the e-Harmony hoop-jumping.  "Here's my phone number, I'd love to chat with you."

Then I cried a little bit more, because I was terrified that I'd never be loved like Rosie.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for making me cry! Beautiful, so glad you found your Jim.