the silent heartbeat

When I was young, innocent, and embarrassingly naive, I would sit in disgust and judgment at the older couples who would slide into a booth nearby, look over the menus briefly, interact politely with the waitstaff, and then promptly fall into a silence so loud I’m afraid the bus boys couldn’t gossip over it. And I thought, with my chin high and my experience low, I’ll never be like that. I’ll always have interesting and profound conversation to carry with my future-husband-to-be, precisely punctuated with flirty giggles. I’ll always look at him with my chin tipped ever so gently downward and to the right, light radiating and reflecting from his incredibly engaging self (and naturally, vice versa).

Oh what I fool I was. Better yet, how unversed in the language of love. As that unversed fool, I falsely thought the duration, depth, and dynamics of a dialogue were what measured true intimacy.

Now, after nearly 12 years of marriage, I have come to realize that yes, dialogue is an integral part of love, but as equally important are the moments of silence we share together.

In these moments, true comfort is revealed.

In these moments, peace to think and reflect is welcomed.

In these moments, two people can rest in what they have already built.

In these moments, all pretenses have been dropped and authenticity is vivid and tangible.

In these moments, a secure couple can live and honor two separate but shared lives, side by side.

On a first date, or a tenth date, that silence might be the foreboding evidence of a Cupid mismatch, the fumbling and mumbling through awkward pauses, like the couple learning where to put their feet in the pattern of a dance. But after a decade of marriage, after years of both dramatic dates and uneventful glances, that silence is the sweet collective breath of two people in harmony, who know how the other dances, and move together in graceful time.

And of course, herein lies the true beauty: they dance in silence to the observer, only hearing the subtle symphony of their heartbeats.

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