They are not spring chickens. He’s totally gray, and while the picture doesn’t show it, so are her roots. Despite their age there is a high school graduation looking forward confidently to the future kind of feel to the picture; this is their honeymoon. They have the same hopes and dreams of any newly married couple. There are decisions to be made, adventures to enjoy; the future is ripe with possibilities.
This picture was taken in September of 2005, at Mackinac Island. They were walking along the road after dinner and asked a passerby to take their picture. It was the end of a pleasant fall day, with a gentle breeze blowing back her hair.
They felt so lucky. Both had been through heartaches and failed marriages, and were well aware that there is no guaranty of happiness in life. One of the great things about a second marriage is being aware, always, of how special and wonderful a gift it is to find someone.
His past had wounded him deeply. It shows in the picture, in the look of someone who isn’t quite sure that things will be Okay. That look of hope mixed with hesitation and just a bit of distrust never went away. At its best, it manifested in an ever realized and frequently expressed sense of gratitude for what was good in his life. This person would never take that for granted. At its worst, it became a cloud of distrust that would occasionally rear up and cause the present to be confused with the past.
She had fewer ghosts, but also far more time spent alone. Her expression shows her complete joy in having found someone; an outcome she did not expect to happen. Her problem was that lack of belief, which in hard times would surface, causing her to need almost constant reassurances.
What’s next for these two? The same as any new couple. Life steps in and takes over. He is laid off from his job. Her salary is cut. They watch their parents get older, and end up taking a much more active role in care giving. He loses a sibling. She sees her child fully launched into adulthood and independence. They share these events. The happy are made more joyous, the sad more bearable, by that sharing.
They make decisions. They’ll live at her house; meaning his must be readied for sale. They enter the battle of many couples over whose furniture stays and, as usually happens, his couch ends up at Goodwill. A small business is started and many enjoyable evenings are spent planning its future.
Vacations become a special treat for them both, where their diverse styles mesh perfectly. Her forte is in the research and planning done ahead of time; his is in dealing with the unexpected situations that can occur. On road trips, she has the stamina of a truck driver and happily drives for hours. Once at the destination, he does all the driving; his innate sense of direction ensures they are rarely lost. They love simple weekend jaunts to different cities, where they walk neighborhoods, sample local microbrews, see music and watch baseball.
Issues and problems come up. He’s a packrat, and she would prefer to live out of a suitcase. She likes planning things, thinking through every possible situation and being ready with a response; he prefers to react as things happen. Her sense of time is self-described as “Germanic”, his “Caribbean”. These issues are small and laughable, and while they occasionally cause tiffs they’re easily resolved.
Others are not. He holds back on sharing bad news and fixing problems in hopes of things getting better on their own. This can backfire, causing some problems to become larger and more serious. She wants to face issues head on, but often does so in a blunt style that can be confrontational. He is stubborn and change averse; she is impatient and prefers actions to contemplation.
But, none of that matters this fine fall evening in 2005. They’ve just completed a lovely dinner and are on their way to hear music. The sunset is gorgeous. The clopping of horse-drawn carriages and the whirr of passing bicycles sounds in the background. The promise of the future, their future, is bright.