We're walking, arm in arm, down a street we're proud to call our own. I'm smiling because our individual strides become like one so easily. Off to our left our gray shadows lope along with us, grazing the bushes and fences on our street. The sun is just low enough to hide behind the houses on our right, and he plays peek-a-boo with us between the roofs and chimneys, blinking brightly every few steps. We're thankful for the breeze that plays with my hair.
Jon smiles at me. He's thinking about how nice it is to have a friend, a love, a gal like me. And my thoughts echo his. Autumn is coming, gently pushing at Summer, easing in around evening time to practice being cool, comforting and lovely.
Jon has his new camera in hand, my anniversary present to him. He's snapping pictures of the flowers, the street lights, the neighbors' cats... and me. I smile. He runs around me in a circle, zooming and clicking, playing with the settings on his new toy.
We're coming up to a park where children are playing. Their laughter reminds me of my own childhood, and I look for the swings. No one has claimed them, amazingly. I simply can't control myself, and I skip across the playground to the swingset. Swinging is glorious. Taking my feet up off the ground I feel a thrill. Freedom. I close my eyes and swoop up in a smooth arc into the air, then comes the free, sloping fall. Jon kneels somewhere out in front of me and snaps a few more pictures. Obligingly give him my biggest smile, tossing my hair back and gazing flirtaciously into the lens. My photographer is enjoying his newfound hobby.
Soon we're walking again, turning left and wandering down the warm, bright streets of our neighborhood. A dog waddles up, a malamute mix with alarming white-blue eyes, but his wagging tail puts me at ease. He whines slightly and licks my hand. I miss my own dog so much sometimes. Jon knows, and he takes a firm, sympathetic hold on my arm and navigates me away from the reminder of my Scout.
Somewhere tucked within the friendly neighborhood is a charming square of grass, large enough for children to play tag or to entertain a party, complete with a gazebo graced with lilacs, gracefully curved park benches, pretty street lamps that flicker on as we pass through. We pause to sit, and our seamless conversation about paintings and friends and history stops all of a sudden. The crickets have begun to sing, to each other or to us, we don't know. But their crisp voices herald the night. We enjoy their song together on the park bench.
I take a few pictures of Jon, who objects, saying I am too pretty to be taking the pictures. We laugh, and I hand the camera over again.
After a while we stand and move on, down the street and back towards home. Jon keeps tossing glances over his shoulder, searching for the moon. It makes me think of Jimmy Stewart.
"What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull her down."
That's love, and it's a wonderful love. But so is mine. He tells me that we're lucky. Why, I ask, though I agree heartily and have a long list of reasons on my own. Just look, he replies, at what we are able to do. He means that we can freely stroll down a street at nightfall, squandering our freetime and never doubting our motives for a second. Youth, love, intellect, ambition, faith... all ours to do with as we please. And he means that we can talk about everything to one another, best friends.
Our fingers lock together, and we're silent. Just the padding of our feet, mine bare, on the warm sidewalk. It occurs to me that this walk isn't about exercise, or meditation, or any particular destination. This is about nothing but togetherness. In the process of simply being together, of course, our blood pressure drops, our breathing is deep and soft, purposely filling our lungs with cool, sweet air. Everything is better, even the things that seemed perfect before our walk began.