Lately I've been seeing myself in other people. Not in their faces for some physical similarity, but for circumstances and situations. It's kind of an odd feeling, looking at people and seeing bits of me looking back.
When we went to the poker night a while back, my coworker gave us a very quick tour of the downstairs of the new house he and his wife just bought. It's a beautiful house, but it was almost like walking through a model home. Everything was perfect. Furniture just so. Everything coordinated exactly. It was a large house too and I caught myself thinking that the two of them must rattle around in that big house by themselves, wondering if they had kids, and if not, why they'd gotten such a big house - maybe they were planning kids. It didn't occur to me til a bit later that Richard and I will be looked at in just the same way. We're building a house that is probably too big for just two people, and even with the cats we may rattle around in it a bit. How would I feel knowing that someone was jumping to conclusions based on that?
I was in the grocery store a few weeks ago, standing in line at the checkout counter with the makings for peach pie (because Richard's coworker was going to crash at our place for the night and having company over always brings out the domestic in me) and the woman in front of me caught my eye. She was older - probably at least in her 60's or 70's, trim, with beautiful white hair and a bright mischievious smile. She held herself poised proudly, and walked with a spring in her step. She was beautiful because of her self-confidence and obvious energy and I nearly opened my mouth and spoke the thought aloud - that it was my fervent wish that I could look that good when I was her age. And then before I could let the words escape I thought about how they might sound - as if it was an insult although none was intended, and quite the opposite, and so I kept silent, but as I drove back home I wondered if I should have said something anyway, just a comment, woman to woman, to let her know that she was an inspiration, even if it was only to a tired stranger buying sour cream and pie crusts. And how would I react if, by some stroke of fortune when I reach that age, I am in her shoes and someone said that to me? Would I be flattered? Offended?
I notice people more, lately. I'm not sure why that is so - it just happens. A couple catches my eye, the way they're holding hands as if it's the most natural thing in the world and the sight of love portrayed so quietly and effortless tugs a smile to my lips no matter what mood I'm in, and I wonder if we'll do that for someone, years down the road when we walk through an airport, hand in hand, simply content to be touching without speaking.
I notice marriages now. I never paid much attention to them before. I could point out things that might worry me or amuse me about friends and acquaintances, but the whole concept of their relationships never really occurred to me one way or the other. But now I find myself watching my sisters with their husbands, friends with their spouses, my parents, parents of friends. I'm not sure quite what it is that I'm looking for - perhaps some small clue to what ties each pair together; what do's and don't's I can glean from them that might work in my marriage to Richard; what to do and what to avoid doing. They're all individuals, with relationships as unique as they are and I can never truly compare, but I watch nonetheless and yet even as I do I still ask myself why it has suddenly become so much more interesting to me now that I am on the verge of marriage myself.