Let Me Tell You a Love Story

There's a couple that walks down our street every night after dinner, a boy and girl who are most likely newlyweds. They're just a few years younger than I am, still lightened by the weightless possibility that comes in those post-graduation years of your early twenties.

My husband and I good-naturedly refer to them as Hipster Couple. They resemble each other in the way that long-term couples do. They both wear huge plastic glasses and, occasionally, matching fedoras that top their honey-colored hair. He has a signature goatee and a love of both flannel and suspenders. She wears only warm neutrals and has the impressive ability to pull off wide-leg pants with confidence. They even have a pair of matching dogs, each of them holding a leash.

Hipster couple is always touching each other. Sometimes they hold hands, but more often he'll have his arm draped across her shoulders, or she'll have hers circling his waist. If the dogs are pulling them apart, they still manage to lean towards each other, as though they're magnetized.

I have never seen them not talking, not smiling, or not laughing. They're adorable, is what I'm trying to say.

I refuse to feel creepy about watching them whenever they pass by. For one thing, our house is on a hill with a huge picture window facing the street; it's hard not to notice who's walking along. But more than that, I'm drawn to them.

It's like watching a rom-com day by day. They make my heart happy every time I see them. More than once, I've felt the urge to snap a few candid photos and anonymously leave them in their mailbox (after following them to discover where they live in the most non-stalkerish way possible). I think they deserve to see what their love looks like from afar.

Jacob and I can't help but comment on them. Mostly I'll talk about how happy they look and he'll talk about how he doesn't understand fashion these days. But the other day, we had this exchange. 

"Do you think Hipster Couple will be together forever?" I said. "We don't even know if they're married." 

And Jacob, who is no great romantic, replied, "Yeah, they will. Those two just go together."

I hope they never move. I hope I get to keep watching them walk by for years and years, eventually accompanied by a pregnant belly, then a stroller, then laughing, smiling, honey-haired children. I want to watch this far-away, shining love story go on forever. 

And I'm not delusional, okay? I know that I don't actually know them, that maybe all of us would look this happy and in love if people couldn't see our screaming fights and our secret fears and the nights we feel so far apart, even though we're sitting on the same couch. 

All I'm saying is, this boy loves that girl, and that girl loves this boy, so much that perfect strangers can see it from their living room window. That's the kind of love I'm going to keep believing in, even if it makes me the crazy stalker lady in the house on the hill. 

Life Lived in a Moleskine Notebook

"So it's a diary?"

My black Moleskine notebook is open on the kitchen table in front of me while my husband peers curiously down at it. The notebook follows me everywhere, though I rarely have time to open it. It sits on the corner of my desk while I write client articles, on the kitchen counter while I chop onions, on the nightstand next to my bed just in case I happen to wake up before the kids.

The notebook is everywhere. I'm more attached to it than my phone. It's the thing I'd grab first in a fire (assuming the kids were already safe). But I don't actually know what it is.

"Um, not really. It's just where I write down things that happen and what I think about them. But not like, everything that happens. Just important things that might matter someday. Things I might want to remember?"

I'm stumbling over my words, not making sense even to myself. I add something about creative nonfiction as a genre and how it holds the start to many of the essays I eventually publish online, but I can tell that only muddies the waters more. My husband shakes his head and gives me a small eye roll, figuring it's one of the many things that he, a non-reader, will never get about me, a person who lives and breathes words all day.

I press the tip of my pen back down on the paper, but whatever I was going to write is already lost. I stare at the black dot the pen left in the middle of the paper, letting my eyes unfocus, trying to chase back whatever fleeting idea has been flitting through my brain. 

I was ten when I first stumbled upon the Pensieve with Harry Potter. Dumbledore says something about how your mind becomes so full of thoughts, you just need somewhere to put them all. Later, you can find patterns you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. 

Harry nods along even though he doesn't get it. At ten, this is how I felt too. A bowl full of thoughts didn't make any sense to me. How could your mind not have space to think about the things that needed thinking about? My head was balancing all sorts of things that year, like whether or not I would like summer camp (I didn't), which teacher I'd get next year (a good one), and how awkward my first experience with health class would be (very).

Then Harry and I both grew up, and now a basin filled with swirling silver thoughts makes a lot more sense. 

In the six years since entering "real" adulthood, complete with marriage, home ownership, and children, I've often wished for a magical basin that could hang onto thoughts and memories until I had time and space to process them all. But J. K. Rowling's Pottermore site tells us that it's even more than that. 

She tells us that it's difficult to use a Pensieve to sort through ideas; it's not something every wizard can do. It requires work and skill, and if you're too protective of your secrets or ashamed of your past, you'll never manage it. 

My notebook is a Muggle's Pensieve, the closest I can get to using magic to sort the thoughts that need sorting. It gives the gift of mental processing and the ability to find threads of stories in an otherwise mundane daily life, though these findings don't come easily. 

I have to be willing to write down things I wish I hadn't said or done. I have to know that I could get hit by a bus someday and people could end up flipping through those pages full of unpolished words that weren't meant to be read. I have to know that all the things I write there might not add up to anything real in the end, but they were probably worth writing anyway.

And so the notebook that holds all these words I can't quite define stays with me. I carry it from room to room in our house, jotting down a quick thought in between refilling sippy cups and breaking up fights over toys.

Someday, if I'm lucky, maybe I'll find enough magic to sort through the thoughts and find the pattern that was there all along.