Sunday, June 21, 2015 - Father's Day and the First Day of Summer
I'm sitting on the boardwalk near Pier 5 and the National Aquarium at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. I was wiling away the hours waiting for the Huey Lewis and the News concert to begin. It's a perfect East Coast summer afternoon. There's a breeze blowing across the harbor, fluttering flags and short skirts as it races down the boardwalk. Otis Redding's song, "Sittin on the Dock of the Bay" plays in my mind. The sun is beginning to set and the blue sky is dotted with puffy clouds, plane trails, and the gray bank of a storm front off in the distance. I have a great view of the Hermione, a 12-pounder Concorde class frigate. She is a reproduction of the 1779 Hermione which ferried General Lafayette to the Americas in 1780 to allow him to rejoin the American side of the Revolutionary War. Although the wind is berating her colors, she lies firm in her hull against the barrage. I also have a front row seat of the paddle-boats listing helplessly against the dock, their passengers unable to dislodge them with their mighty peddling. It's all in vain when fighting the wind and tide. The motorized tug boat comes to rescue them, only for others to follow in their wake.
But neither of these views, nor the passersby, draw my attention for long. It's the couple sitting on the next bench. I guess them to be mid-sixties, maybe a bit older - white hair, aging bodies - but absolutely perfect in their embrace. The man sits tall, but at an angle, while his wife (I assume - both are wearing wedding bands) leans against him and has her head resting on his shoulder. His arm is stretched over the back of the bench and he caresses her shoulder. They are watching the paddle-boats with amusement just like I am, sharing a secret laugh here and there. My heart warms at how comfortable they are with each other, how familiar. They have obviously spent a lifetime together. I am drawn to their space - spiritually, not physically. I watch them, sparingly, and am in awe of them. For the most part they sit quietly; no need for idle chatter, social media or smart phones. They only need each other, a comfortable bench, and time to just 'be'. They are clearly of one mind and one soul.
Humans are social creatures. God engineered us this way. In fact, He created Adam because He was lonely and wanted a companion. Then He saw that Adam was lonely and created Eve to be a partner for him. Studies have proven over and over again that humans fare better when they have sufficient social capital to support them through life's curves, turns, twists and peaks.
I am intrigued because it makes me long for home and my 'one'. It also brought to mind another blog I wrote about the passing of time and the movement of generations. First my husband and I were the young couple just starting out, looking up to those families with young children. Then, when we were the family with young children, we couldn't help but look up to and wonder how long it would be until we were the family at the next table with grown children. And now we are the family at the next table with the grown children looking up to the next generation of empty-nesters and how long it will be until we are there. When we do arrive at that moment, I look forward to us being that couple on the next bench, relaxing while the world rushes by - the young families, elderly couples, teenagers, college students - remembering those moments in our lives that brought us here. As I continue to write this blog (prior to typing it here), many generations pass by, each unaware of the passage of time as observed by a solitary girl sitting on a boardwalk bench.
The breeze is still attempting to dislodge the Hermione from her berth, but settles on moving the hapless paddle-boats. So goes with life - the wind attempts to dislodge us. But like the Hermione, if we are lucky enough to be firmly moored to those around us, the wind may move on and settle on berating the hapless persons who go through life in a singular state. Will we be firmly moored enough to withstand the buffeting of the wind so that in the setting of our lives we are relaxing on a boardwalk bench? Or are we helplessly tossed about, at the mercy of the man with the motorized boat to come save us? The choice is ours. How it ends is up to you.