Once upon a time there was a woman. Once upon a time there was a man.
They were old. Not Alzheimers old. Not Baucis and Philemon old. But old.
Wait a minute you say. That can’t be a story.
Because only young people have adventures. Have sex. Make discoveries. Are beautiful.
Well, you have a point. But couldn’t these old people – given that they have all their marbles and all their limbs and are somewhat curious about existence – still have it in them to have adventures?
No! Well, maybe. I don’t want that story to talk down to us, or tell me what to think or be incredibly long winded or have anything in it that says “when I was your age.”
Once upon a time there were two old people. They had done some things and seen some things. And they wondered “what can I do now?” They went back to school. One of them graduated. They wrote books, they volunteered, and yes they had sex.
Oh God!– just don’t describe it.
Ok – anyway – they took walks. And they realized that time was beginning to work differently for them. The world began to spin faster. This didn’t make them want to move faster. Quite the contrary – it made them want to slow down.
Now I’m bored.
The slowing down made every moment including this moment, luminous and effervescent. The way the wind rustles through leaves in the fall, how the tweed of the seat feels rough against your hand. The smell of winter – fresh, dry, tobacco-y—remains in your hair.
The old people had a tree that almost died. It got brown, but then the woman went and talked to it.
It can’t be time to die yet, she said to it.
The tree decided to get green again. The brown parts stayed brown, but the green grew.
I think we are like that, said the woman to the man. We can’t fix the brown parts, but we can still grow around them.
I’m going to get a Masters Degree, said the man.
I’m going to write another book, said the woman. She went outside and stroked the tree.
It was still growing – green needles soft to the touch, its death conquered for a time.
Are you done?
Yes. Can you smell the winter coming?
No. Wait – maybe. A little.