It was Saturday night and they were in love.
They sat close to each other on the beige couch, flanked by men speaking to someone outside of the photo frame. Her chic bouffant had likely kept her hair in rollers the whole afternoon, and kept their heads from touching that night. Her left hand cupped her right elbow, and her right hand held a frosted tumbler toward the neckline of her black sheath. His elbows rested on his thighs, and his fingers were laced lightly between his knees, covered by the pressed slacks of his blue suit. With a full head of coiffed dark hair and his skinny tie, he was muy Mad Men back in that day.
They were my parents, captured in a photo during their pre-me life, sitting close enough that their knees touched, and every gesture and shift likely sparked that Saturday-night-with-my-baby exhiliration. My cousin Jessica posted the photo on her Facebook page, and commented on how chic my mom was. Other cousins remembered my mom as a style maven and my dad as a catch with dark eyes and lashes “out to there.”
Those are not my memories of them, but what I remember is not all there was, or is, to them. They are now in their late 70s and though I’m approaching middle age, it still surprises me to think they were once in the kind of love that made Saturday night an event for my mother to fuss with her hair and want to look just so for my dad. Life at the moment in that photo was all about anticipation, whereas I remember the years after the promises and hopes had dimmed and extinguished.
We were all something else at another time, someone’s reason for joy. I thought of this during last week’s ShopRite trip with my dad, as he pushed my cart and read The Daily News while I price compared paper towels. When we sat to share our coffee, tea, and muffins in the supermarket’s snack court, I saw that his hair is mostly gone and his lashes lost in the puffy folds of his eyelids–the same lids I will likely develop and that will hide my own lengthy lashes. That photo from the past gave me more patience with the man who sat across from me because he was more than what I saw and what I remembered.