The kids shuffled off the ice after skating lessons yesterday in a big crowd of eager faces. The teachers stepped off the ice one by one and as usual, everyone milled about, talking excitedly, reviewing the lesson, looking at next week.
Suddenly, the door to the ice shut definitely and a love song struck up over the loud speakers. Loud. A couple glided along inside the rink on skates, the woman’s Vera Bradley purse on an angle across her body.
They held hands as they skated over the ice. Everyone turned to watch, wondering why the music was so loud, wondering who they were, wondering why the door was shut so absolutely.
The kids waited to unlace their skates and climb back into street shoes. Parents craned their necks to look at the couple, wondering who they were and why open skate was suspended briefly just for them.
And then, we knew. Standing on center ice, he took her hands and asked her a question. The Question. And he presented a ring.
She smiled, she nodded, she exclaimed, “YES!” although we couldn’t hear her over the music. He slid the ring on her finger. They hugged. They kissed. And the small crowd of people who knew them off to the side clapped and cheered.
Engaged. In front of everyone at the Berkley Ice Arena, the song picked carefully because of its lyrics proclaiming the optimism of blossoming love.
And then they resumed skating around the perimeter of the rink as the music continued to play. They were still holding hands. We were still watching, transfixed.
Remember when the romance was so big it took over every thought you had? When your stomach leaped at the sound of the phone ringing because you knew it was him calling?
When your weekend coming up was so exciting because he would be part of it and you wondered whether you’d just linger on the couch, cuddling in front of a movie, or whether you’d go out on the town?
In yesterday’s New York Times Modern Love column, a husband wrote about how the romance wanes and the love grows, and how he couldn’t relate to it until it happened to him. Yeah yeah yeah. We all know that’s sort of true.
Except it doesn’t have to be.
We all get complacent and fall into routine and that’s ok. And yet, we must strive to step onto the ice and skate around hand-in-hand when everyone’s watching because that love is too special and wonderful to take for granted.
I smiled as I watched that couple, remembering that I was like that once, too. I didn’t always yell at the kids to c’mon and hurry up and we have to do X, Y, and Z before the day was done.
There was a time (and there are still times) when the day is open and seemingly endless, and it is our canvas to decorate in the unique way only we can do. Like this coming Saturday – it’s just me and my guy, and it looks like it will be warmer outside than it has in a long while.
So maybe we’ll walk in the sun and talk and hold hands, our hearts pounding from the exercise but also from the excitement of being together.
Maybe we’ll sip our coffees on the brown couch, heads at opposite ends as we read, together but separate, happy just sharing the same space in quiet morning.
Maybe we’ll go to yoga or cook together or see a movie or maybe we’ll do nothing at all and climb back into bed at 3 o’clock and just laze around because we can and because we love being together.
The upside of a second marriage is we have periods of empty house so that we can reconnect and remember how much we love each other, why we came together in the first place, and that excitement of the first everything early on, which still lives beneath the surface, if we care enough to clear away the clutter to find it once again.