Embracing the joy of others in love
I’ve been single for a long time now, and I can’t make it through the day without running smack against some smugly loving pair. At the grocery store, at the post office — they are omnipresent in their canoodling. If I weren’t already so cynical about love, all those couples would push me off the proverbial edge.
Not that I blame them. During my own partnered stretches, I’m the first to broadcast the sweetness of being in a relationship. I like holding hands in public, and I enjoy making soft eyes across the table in a restaurant. I want people to know how lucky I feel. So why should I hold it against other couples for flaunting their good fortune?
It’s just that sometimes I need a break. There are places and moments when I think, Can you please tone it down? For me that place is the beach. I like to take a walk every night around sunset. I troop out with my faded plastic bucket, the kind kids play with in the sand, and I pick up detritus from the vacation life: cigarettes butts, bottle caps, juice boxes — all the trash people forget to throw away when they’re too busy having a good time. I walk head down, my eyes on the sand, scanning for garbage and clearing my head of the day’s worries. I’m always amazed at how a little beach cleaning can make me feel so zen.
It’s the beach, after all. I’ve seen couples kissing as the sun set over the water and partners cuddled on beach blankets. I’ve witnessed vast quantities of portraits taken, men and women looking brightly at the camera so that their selfsatisfaction can be broadcast not just to the near vicinity but their entire, far-flung social network. None of this I mind.
What finally got to me happened the other night — a couple engaged in a standing make-out session midway down the island. I think, a little kissing: fine. Some light groping: also fine. But full-on legs intertwined pelvic thrusting with hair pulling? Not on the beach at sunset, thank you very much.
It was the kind of scene I hated to see — yet still couldn’t pull my eyes away from. The couple separated just as I neared, my plastic bucket banging against my leg, indignation shooting from me like sparks.
At 100 yards I had assumed they were teenagers. Who else would be so heedless? At 50 yards I thought they were in their mid-20s, steeped in all that heady romance that leads to marriage.
But as I passed them I realized that they were older than I am by at least 20 years. Suddenly I had the thought: Well, why not? Love is so fleeting, its blessings so rare. If a passionate sensation should overcome us on the beach — or at the post office or the grocery store — why should anyone try to contain it? We should all be so lucky to have moments like those. ¦