We find a bench in full sun that overlooks the park. The letters of some dead guy's name press into my back. We read shoulder to shoulder in our quiet way.
A chiffon breeze skips across blades of grass and up my pant leg, cool against my naked calf. It's precisely this mingling of hot and cold that led me outdoors. The wind whips up, and my wife's hair fans, its tendrils tickling my cheek. I breathe her in, clean and fragrant, the perfume I sleep to. The wind wanes, and I kiss her cheek to inhale her once more.
A little girl in a red dress dances to rustling leaves, her legs new and unsure beneath her. Her chestnut hair bunches in curls atop her head and she squeals at her own brilliance. She totters towards a man with outstretched arms. Just as he's about to gobble her up, she retreats, laughing.
"I feel old," says my wife.
She's not talking about the little girl.
College kids are wandering. Not one by one, but in bunches. Their skin smooth as river rocks. Their smiles blissful.
"We're not old," I say. "Not just yet."
We're old enough to have wisdom and wonder in near equal parts. And I wouldn't trade with those kids. Not for their young bones. Or for the discoveries that await them.
So many memories are stacked atop my skin, like glowing embers. They hiss and crackle and spit orange fireworks that fall to earth as ash. They've seared their patterns in my flesh.
My wife has them too. And they're beautiful. And she's beautiful.
We trace each other's lines with trembling fingers until the patterns merge.
And I would not trade.