Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I saw love today

I was at McDonalds, of all places, grabbing lunch between classes. Usually if I'm eating somewhere by myself I have a notebook with me. I guess I'm not really alone then, because I get lost in the lives of my characters. Today, though, I hadn't planned on a lunch break that would keep me in the city. We only had class scheduled for the morning, so I didn't have my notebook with me.

So today I got to people watch. Do you ever do that? Just sit back and look at the people around you and wonder if you can get a glimpse of their lives? I don't know, maybe the fact that I do that just makes me nosy. For now, though, I'll just say that it's writing research, a way to make the relationships in my stories seem more like real life.

I was perched on a tall stool by the window and soon the tables beside me started to fill up. The first to sit down was an older man wearing a "Toledo Federation of Teachers" lanyard. When I first walked in he had already been sitting at one table, his things spread across its surface. He had gathered everything back up and moved, though, finding a table tucked away in an area that was sort of sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant--a table which just happened to be in the same area where I was sitting. A couple minutes later an older couple walked in and joined him. It turns out the two men had worked together for years a long time ago, and they had met for lunch every Wednesday ever since. It seemed their conversation picked up right where it had left off, with all three finishing each other's sentences. They were very evidently enjoying the weekly meet up. It was a very clear picture of the love between longtime friends.

Another couple who sat down close by painted a different picture of love. They walked to the table together, him carrying a tray with two chicken sandwiches, a side salad, and two coffees. They sat down across from each other, neither saying anything. He opened her sandwich and then his own, then opened the salad and split it between them. He opened her plastic fork for her and added cream and sugar to her coffee. When she started looking for a napkin, he got up to get it for her. He would bring up something to talk about for a moment, and she would answer him with one or two words. Their quiet lunch together was striking there in juxtaposition to the cheery conversation going on at the table behind them, but there was something beautiful in it. Maybe it was the way he took care of her or their quiet comfortability with one another. Or maybe it was the gold bands shining on the ring fingers of hands sacrificed for one another through the years.

I'm not sure what it was that gave me such a crystal clear glimpse of love, but I'm glad I got to see it.

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~Mandy