There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a young couple enjoying themselves on a hot summer day. The woman, in her shorts and t-shirt, her socks and sneakers, her hair in a ponytail, her eyes holding laughter. The man, in his shorts and t-shirt, his socks and sneakers, his hairy legs exposed, his hand in hers. Laughing, teasing, cajoling, playing.
He throws her a frisbee. She drops it. He laughs at her. She gives him a look, then tries to launch the frisbee over his head. It flies in a different direction, almost hitting some college women lying on a beach towel. Her expression turns to shock. Her hands go up to her mouth. The man chases after the frisbee, yelling a “sorry” to the college women. He picks it up and throws it gently to his girlfriend. She catches it lightly in her outstretched hands.
Such scenes carry with it a tinge of sadness for me. I am not so old, but old enough to remember when I was younger. As young as these two. To have a beautiful girl on my arm. To flirt. To tease. To not have adult things to worry about–like how to earn enough money to live–but just superfluous things to worry about, like how to earn enough money to have fun. A carefree life, but one that doesn’t feel that way when you’re living it. As a teenager, as a college student, everything feels so damn important. I wonder, even now, if I will look back at this moment….and wonder what it was I was worrying about so much.
I am single now. Single and alone. I didn’t feel alone before, but seeing this scene play out in front of my eyes, of innocence never again achieved, of youth never again experienced, I grow sad, and lonely. For I remember many girls I loved, who loved others; and some who loved me, when I loved others.
But, out of all of them, there’s always that one girl. That one girl that I wished I had dated. That one girl who, had she said “yes,” might have altered my life forever. Hyperbole, maybe. But certainly, my life would be different now. How, I’m not sure. Would I be with her still? Would we have broken up, and my life been more bitter because of it? Or would going out with her have given me the confidence to pursue other women afterwards, so that I would not still be a bachelor, lucky to have received a kiss from a woman, but not lucky enough to have received more?
They’re both laughing now, almost in hysterics. The man keeps throwing the frisbee over the woman’s head. She keeps trying to throw it past him. Sometimes he dives and catches it. Sometimes he just dives. She laughs no matter which scenario plays out. He laughs whether he catches the frisbee or not.
The sadness in my heart grows, mixed with love. Remembered love. Not love for a specific person, but love for all the women I have loved. It always feels the same. As if someone has drilled a hole into my heart and filled it with beauty and joy and life, but when she leaves, only the hole remains. The intensity of the hurt, the longing, the joy, differs from person to person, but the hole always remains.
The young couple have stopped their game. They leave, hand-in-hand: the young man throwing the frisbee up in the air and catching it with his left hand, the young woman swinging the arm that is attached to his right hand. I watch them go. A moment later, I get up to leave. I don’t feel well. The sickness of my memories overwhelms me. My head is tired. I feel tired. And old. And out of hope.