It's a gorgeous, sunny afternoon at the Bakehouse and I am happily digesting a tuna melt and mac & cheese. The place is packed; a group of Chinese mothers are chatting while their infants stare at the strange sights. At a window table, a young couple is eating lunch.
When the couple first entered, they seemed very much in love. They sat down holding hands and made silly faces at the babies. They shared soda out of same glass, Norman Rockwell style. Their faces were joyful, their voices clear. I felt their happiness and perhaps even a touch of jealousy.
The moment fully enveloped them. They were engaged with, and engaged by, where they were right now, what they were doing right now. This is a rare thing, rarer than it should be.
As a child, it was so easy to be present, to embrace the moment. I remember one summer day when I, all of 10 years old, realized that inter-dimensional invisible dinosaurs were trying to destroy the universe. No one else saw them; the responsibility of defeating their nefarious schemes fell on my shoulders alone. My weapon? A hockey stick. Two hours later, I banished them to their nether realm and fell sweaty and blissful into the grass.
The young couple isn't saving the world from possible catastrophe, but that's the domain of children. Their food arrives: a reuben with chips and a pickle for him, a lettuce, tomato, and mozzarella panini for her. They grasp their sandwiches and lean in for a kiss.
Before their lips meet, he jumps as if waking from a dream. His hand digs the phone out of his pant pocket and raises it to his face. Her face goes blank; she leans back and takes a bite of her sandwich. It doesn't taste as good as she had hoped.
His fingers flick across the screen, sending information out into the endless ether. He apologizes and puts the phone away. She accepts his apology. They speak as they eat but their sentences stumble together. When the food is gone, they don't linger.
As they leave, his hand twitches towards hers, then falls to his side. They drive off and my jealousy disappears.