Last night, Wil and I went to the hockey game (WOW, did the Kings play like crap) and at one point in between game play, the “Kiss Cam” was capturing people smooching and putting it up on the JumboTron for all to see. At every game for as long as we’ve been season ticket holders, the camera is put on this one old couple where, each time, the man smiles and looks surprised, and his wife grabs him by the face and plants a big ‘ol kiss on his lips. The crowd goes wild, they laugh, and the hockey game continues. It’s an adorable tradition to see on the screen, and something they obviously love to do. Over the years, we’ve seen them heading out of the stadium together, always smiling and talking to people who recognized them on the JumboTron. They used to walk out holding hands, but in the last couple of years, it has transitioned to him sitting in a wheelchair while she pushes him with her own frail grip on the handles of that chair, as they head out into the cool night air with the thousands of other game attendees.
I’ve often wondered if that old couple started getting season tickets for the same reason Wil and I did. First, because hockey is super fun to watch in-person (even when your home team is uh…not so good) but also because it’s like having a planned date night. Years ago when our kids were in elementary and junior high school, Wil and I had gotten ourselves annual passes to Disneyland so we could drop the kids off at school and then sneak off to the Happiest Place On Earth, go on a few rides, have lunch, and then get back in time to pick the kids up from school (we told them YEARS later we had been doing this but they didn’t know at the time). We always knew the kids wouldn’t be living with us forever, so it was important to us to make time for each other in the chaos that is being a parent. When we struggled financially and couldn’t afford Disneyland passes, much less going out to dinner, we would go on a long walk in our neighborhood, or play a board game in front of the fireplace. I wondered if this old couple at the hockey game did something similar when they were younger because here they are, doing what Wil and I are doing, holding hands and sneaking in the occasional smooch (minus the camera on us) at a hockey game.
After the camera moved away from that couple kissing, Wil said “Aww…they’re totally us in 30 years!”
And then my head began silently swirling.
“Oh my god, in 30 years we are going to be old. Like, practically 80 years old. And then there’s what, maybe 15 years left after that? If we’re lucky? Jesus, I just graduated from high school 30 years ago and that doesn’t feel like very long ago. Oh, wait. I actually graduated 31 years ago. But my oldest child is 29, which means in 30 years, he’s going to be 59 when I’m 79 and OH MY GOD THEN IT’S ALMOST OVER FOR ALL OF US HOLY CRAP WIL AND I HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 23 YEARS WHICH IS WEIRD SEEING AS HOW I’M ONLY 49 BUT JESUS MY MOM DIED WHEN SHE WAS 47 DID SHE THINK SHE WAS HALFWAY THERE BUT THEN IT TURNS OUT IT WASN’T HALFWAY IT WAS ACTUALLY THE END AND OH MY GOD WHAT IF I DON’T MAKE IT TO THE END AND THEN MY FAMILY WOULD HAVE TO LIVE THE REST OF THEIR LIVES WITHOUT ME GOD I JUST REMEMBERED I GOT THAT NOTIFICATION ON MY PHONE ON SATURDAY THAT I SPENT SIX HOURS ONLINE THAT WEEK WHY AM I WASTING SIX FREAKING HOURS OF MY LIFE ONLINE WHEN I’M QUITE POSSIBLY MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH MY LIFE HAVE I DONE ENOUGH HAVE I NOT DONE ENOUGH JESUS IS THIS WHAT A MIDLIFE CRISIS IS?”
And before I knew it, the game was over. I stared at the ice, missing most of the last period experience, not fully present at our pre-planned date night, all because that old couple kissed on camera which sent my middle-aged brain into a tailspin.
As we got up from our seats to leave, I thought of life as a play in three acts. Act One was a childhood full of struggles with the occasional triumphs, as I did my best to figure out how to be an adult. Act Three would be our senior years, probably spent being that old couple on the Kiss Cam, or taking long walks along the beach in Maui, and still having the kids over for barbecued turkey burgers and potato salad.
But Act Two is happening right now.
Wil and I always talk about how in the whole world, with so many people to choose from, how much we love that we chose each other and that we get to spend our lives together. But as we shuffled our way through the crowd, I felt grateful on a whole new level. We get one life, and we don’t know how long that life is going to be, so it’s important to be present, to spend time with the people in our lives that we love, and to use that time to do things that make us happy, while also doing what we can to help others enjoy their lives. When Act One was happening, I never thought Act Two would have me writing a children’s book, or learning how to paint, or figuring out where I can go to do archery because I did that so much as a kid and I loved it so why not do it again, but here I am. And I’m doing it all with a husband who loves me, with two kids who grew up to be amazing adults with lives of their own, and a house full of adorable rescue pets. Life may be unpredictable, but I’m not going to stress about the what-ifs of the future again because I’ll miss what’s playing out right now.
As we headed out of the stadium and into the cool night air, I slid my hand into Wil’s and told him I loved him. We walked down the sidewalk and out to the car, making our way back to our home, and our life, that we’ve built, together.