Spring of Love and Youth?
It was the type of afternoon that begs for a walk along the waterfront, work in the garden (if you do that sort of thing), or anything outside. Unfortunately, instead, I was driving to the supermarket on 9th Avenue, three cans of house paint on the passenger side floor and a pile of mail on the seat.
As I stopped at 9th and Walnut, I noticed a group of teenagers on the sidewalk walking toward a sullenly dressed teen who was standing on the corner.
He was wearing black baggy pants and a black hoodie pulled up over longish, stringy hair. Suddenly, the two girls at the front of the group broke into a run, with one jumping into the boy’s arms for a wide, swinging hug.
It was as if they had not seen each other in years, but at their age, a few years would have put them in elementary school.
I looked at the rest of the kids milling about the couple, all seeming to want to get closer to the boy or be acknowledged by him.
Was this a moment they would all remember 20 years from now?
Was he the friend who they all aspired to be like or be liked by?
The kid who left them?
I smiled at the teens, with their feelings on display, as I drove by. Adults are far too reserved and proper to express such emotion in public.
We give a hug or a handshake when we see someone we like. I can’t remember the last time my husband swung me around on a street corner…if ever.
My parents, who are still quite in love after more than 50 years of marriage, tend to quibble in public more than engage in displays of affection.
In the last few years, though, my parents have started to share with me some of their own dramatic youthful moments…a previous engagement, family resistance to their dreams, and experiences that brought them closer. (My mother would insist that I clarify that she would never run on the street, even if she still could.)
Perhaps I noticed the teen sentimentality that day because just before I had talked to my mom about my dad.
He was out at the library, so she told me about a big scare with his health. She cried as she explained that they have not been sleeping well as they waited for medical test results.
She said she wanted to forego her own upcoming surgery so she would be able to better care for my father. She was rushing about the house while she spoke to me, trying to find ways to help the man she loved.
As I watched the kids in my rear-view mirror, I couldn’t help but think of my parents, still loving each other with an intensity that reminded me of how kids experience first love.
Being in the middle of the two age groups, it is easy to become disconnected from that kind of emotion, worrying about the groceries, and the paint, and the bills.
Maybe youth isn’t wasted on the young and experience doesn’t come too late, but rather being blissfully in between is not appreciated enough by the rest of us.