i have always been a people watcher.
i remember being singled out on the playground, "Hey kid! Got a staring problem?"
& apparently i did, 'cause Neil still gently mutters under his breath every time we're out in public, "Stop staring, hon... it's not polite..."
But i can't seem to help myself. People are so terribly interesting, always doing such unpredictable, or predictable things - & i can hardly bear to tear my eyes away from the spectacle.
Lately, it has been couples that catch my eye. Couples long married with silver in their hair and a familiarity born of years in the same company. i drink them in like an addictive substance. i watch their mannerisms, their body language... their eye contact, touch and tone.
i have a staring problem.
On this trip, maybe Neil gave up trying to make me behave - or maybe in his vacation mode, he graciously gave me a free pass for my people watching habit, but opportunities abounded with grey haired pairs constantly stepping into my line of vision. & so i watched to my heart's content whenever my husband needed to reconnect with his blackberry... i couldn't hear their voices, but my eyes - without little ones to watch - found plenty to keep themselves occupied.
As we strolled through the airport in our final moments of alone time, i saw a woman with a grey bob hair cut lay her head on her husband's shoulder. He didn't flinch or shrug her off... but they sat - comfortingly together. And then there was the couple where he walked a good three paces ahead of her. And the ones who made eye contact while they ate and talked, barely letting the other catch a breath between sentences.
But my favourite moment was on the plane. We had landed midway & i hadn't noticed yet, the couple sitting in the seats directly in front of us. She stood up first, and gently picked up her bouquet of fresh flowers. She had wrapped the bottoms in damp paper towels and was carefully smoothing out the stems as she stood and checked each tender blossom... He stood next - and at first i thought he would fall over. He seemed a little doddery from the flight. He reached up into the overhead bin to get his jacket & as he pulled it out by the collar, the whole thing fell out & flopped right onto her flowers.
They made eye contact... this prim little wife and her little old man... and i had a front row seat.
Suddenly, he didn't look quite so old as the hilarity crept into his damp eyes. A smile crept onto her face too as he whipped his jacket from her flowers and his face broke into a grin. & it was funny that he rumpled her bouquet - & they knew it... perhaps it was an oft repeated scenario of clumsiness in their marriage... or maybe there was something else that hit their funny bone that was the oldest, most friendliest kind of 'inside joke'... but the laughter never dimmed from their eyes till they turned down that aisle and walked off that plane.
& can you see why i love people watching?
The man who was trying to hit on the woman sitting across the aisle from him - passing her his business card as i bit my cheeks & tried not to smile... The woman reading a book - (who i desperately wanted to read over her shoulder to find out what she thought was worth reading)... i wondered who would be waiting for her at home... The grandma and grandpa who took their tiny granddaughter between them as they let their adult children carrying stroller, diaper bag & all manner of baby gadgets follow behind...
With a sigh, i sat down next to my husband on the last leg of our tiny twosome trip. He's a big man for a little plane & i curled into my seat next to him, late afternoon already causing the skies to dim... As the plane flew through the sky, bringing mama and daddy home to our little ones, i let my mind ramble over these sweet days.
Suddenly a blast of noise shook me from my reverie and i glanced over to see Neil clawing his earphones from his ears, furiously pushing buttons to make the sound stop. His eyes met mine - dancing, shining with the joke on him.... you see... my husband is never ridiculous, so he'd never plug his earphones in to an outlet that was at full volume.
i threw my head back & laughed.
"Shhhhh," He cautioned, "People are watching..."
Well, let them watch... let them see our years of inside jokes, and comfort and life lived beside... let them wonder at this oddly matched couple and the history that so magically brought them together... let them see the mannerisms that speak of love and joy - and the happiness that resides here...
And my hungry eyes shut.