She looks frazzled and tired, he looks frustrated but calm; trying to maintain patience. They’ve walked off a 21 hour flight to Australia to begin the adventure honeymoon of a lifetime. Their rings are glistening under fluorescent light and both are still fidgeting, getting used to the weight of warm metal against skin; twisting and admiring the statement it makes on each of their hands. Then the too-warm air of the airport arrivals terminal clouds in, the groaning luggage carousel clanks along and other passengers swarm in.
She pushes then pulls their luggage cart to a stop beside a queue of people pushing themselves towards the customs line. He tries to steal a kiss but she pushes him to one side and gestures to the carousel. He struggles his way through the crowd and back, one suitcase at a time. Now he’s made three trips and is torn between anxiously looking for the next bag and glancing back at his wife, tapping her foot and waiting for her iPhone to find signal. By the time he returns with the fourth bag, those over-packed full size suitcases perilously stacked on the cart, she’s done with the phone and marching through the lines towards fresh air.
Now it’s his turn to sigh and hustle, creeping closer to people slightly ahead of them in the queue.
Maybe he’s anxious to shower and change or just to get his wife into more comfortable surrounds but now it’s his frustration that claws at the atmosphere. Here’s where I learn their story – he’s from Oklahoma, she’s from Los Angeles. They’ll be here for two weeks. I look at the luggage, I look back to them. She explains one bag is shoes, and I laugh – embarrassed but amused at the easy cliche. Their itinerary is jam-packed, they’ll cover New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, not to mention a flying visit to Uluru and she has a pair of shoes for every occasion. She pulls him close, looks up into his face with a moment of calm. I feel relieved; they were making me anxious but I run out of time to tell them why. I hit the security fast-track lane and leave with my hopes for them heavy in my head.
“Dear American Honeymooners,
Please slow down. You’re running the risk of missing each other in your rush not to miss a thing. Don’t fall into the trap of writing a to-do list that doesn’t leave you anytime to make memories of what it was like to be together in that place. Don’t set a pace for your life you can’t maintain. You’ll leave one another behind.
Please pack less. I’m not sure what you were planning on doing, but life just doesn’t need that much baggage. Love is only helped with great hair and nails, it isn’t made. Buy more lingerie and fewer pairs of jeans. Be light on your feet. We carry each other – learn not to be too heavy when you are expecting someone else to carry your bags.
I hope you have a wonderful time, see all sorts of things you’ve never imagined before and have your childlike wonder engaged with creativity, nature and breathing the air of the one you love. Love each other well – you deserve it. You came a long way to get here.
Oh – one last thought. I’m a big believer in shoes. They’re glamorous, enigmatic, practical, empowering and often necessary. But they’re also the difference between staying home and going out. A great shoe isn’t a personality that you put on, but it expresses something of your persona. Learn to wear your lover like one great pair of shoes. The ones that become an extension of who you are. The ones you can’t live without. The ones that make you feel strong enough to climb mountains and fast enough to run for cover. Warm like slippers and a fireplace, easy like Chucks you wear everywhere. And keep walking in them. Live in your love the way you live in your shoes. You’ll need less of them, you’ll take better care of them, you’ll nurture and protect them, you’ll take a lot of pride in them when they’re the only pair you’ve got.
Wishing you all the best,