Quite often, on my afternoon bus rides home, I pass a little old house with a garden. The house is painted white, and the roof is a pale grey blue and long redbrick steps with a little winding concrete path. The blinds on the windows to the house are always drawn, and apart from an immaculate garden there are two or three things that stand out the most.
Matching blue chairs, somehow, upholstered in the same fabric so it matches the colour scheme with the rest of the house. They sit outside, under the shade of the house, vinyl worn but in better condition than you might expect. The flowers in the garden change all the time, but the chairs never move.
And quite often, on my afternoon bus ride home, I pass a little old couple sitting in those chairs, watching everything else pass them by. I never think about them too much, or try to mull over their lives. (This is the first time I’ve really thought about them, or written anything down at all.) I try not to mull over their lives because it would almost seem disrespectful for me to create a fiction when truth can often be even more wonderful.
But they look happy. They look relatively healthy. They look the type to be married for years and years and years, the kind of marriage where life before their spouse was a brief blip in their youth, compared to everything else that comes after. He wears white pulled-up socks, loafers and t-shirts tucked into his knee-length beige shorts and always the same brown leather belt. A flannel if it’s cold. She wear an assortment of soft t-shirts with various ruffles, beading and colours that come to a woman who buys the typical clothing of most sensible people in a sub-tropical climate.
Seeing the two of them there, talking to each other, not boring of each other, feels real and genuine and sincere. Sometimes they’re not there for quite some time – and just as I think someone’s happened – they appear just as routinely, just as sweetly. I, somehow, find it a great comfort that they’re there, that outside is the real world with traffic and queues and bills — but that little shady spot feels insular.
I have often wondered about what would happen if I wrote to them, if I told them that I often passed them by and the flowers in the front garden look beautiful. (But then I have to remind myself that it’s really not a good idea or viable because stalking.) I don’t want to write to them because I feel as though writing to them would disrupt their lives, their happiness, their little peace between the two chairs.
Still, I have a great appreciation for people who take the time to sit back and watch the world go by. Maybe I’ll see them one day, and have the opportunity to thank them for what they’ve taught me. That taking a little time out of your schedule to acknowledge your day is possibly the most important thing you’ll do. That routine or habits don’t have to be surrounded by negative connotations. That life’s normal little luxuries are sometimes the best.