The Boston Paradox has ended with a kiss on a sunny winter Monday that gradually turned into the ugly dusk in New Jersey. As the last moments neared, she withdrew into an unusual contemplative silence, rolled up like a kitten, her feet tucked under her body, knees hugged, on the front seat of my car. The answers have become monosyllabic, the eyes grew wider and deeper. The weight of the world has descended upon our shoulders again, as she walked back to her front door and I waved for the last time and turned the steering wheel. In front of me was the hike back home to Boston. Behind me was the sea of emotion, touches and whispers that for the rest of our lives we shall remember as the Boston Paradox.
What started a year before as a friendly hello, an email and an offer of some marginally useful and yet undefined support, has blossomed suddenly and furiously into the weekend of pain and paradise, foreshadowing, perhaps, something we don't understand yet but intend to find out.
The concert in the Gobelen Room of the Gardner museum on Sunday found us sitting among others, listening to the flowing melodies, the bouncing thin and ironic harpsichord mechanically dueling with a lush violin, whose sound filled the room. Hands clenched, we did not let each other go, quietly absorbing the music, clearly feeling it enter us as if we were one. A stolen kiss behind the ear, a soft touch of a shoulder, none ever suspected. The two kids on uncomfortable wooden chairs leaning together, melded together for an hour and a half.
Coats and jackets around us were silently still, looking intently at the stage. But we clearly felt to be floating above them. The sideways glances probably had them convinced that the two crazy kids, cultured as they might be, are essentially lost. Why else would they, clearly more interested in each other than music, be sitting there, listening?
You could just hear "Oh, how cute!" in the air the day before at the restaurant. "Table ready in 10 minutes" has stretched into a half hour as usual. For the lack of better things to do and given the bitter cold of January evening outside, we stood, holding each other, hugging. Kisses and looks into the bottomless eyes and fingers rolling through the hair and more kisses. At that moment it came to me.
You just never know. You don't and you can't. The soul is rarely visible, although often vulnerable. The emotions, even if they make an occasional appearance right there on our sleeves, are just a keyhole to our soles. There is only so much that one can see through a keyhole. You can be the best of friends with them, you can know another couple like you think you know yourself. But you just don't realize what stirs the pot, how the emotions are controlled, and who holds the strings.
What did they think, again? Not that it matter, mind you, but if I were in their shoes, I would wistfully look and would have added my own "Oh, how cute!" to the imaginary chorus. So simple and so apparent, two kids, mid-twenties, found each other and are out on… let's see, kissing holding hands, looking goofy… must be a third date. The progression is simple and transparent, therefore easily applied to the outwardly obvious situation - more kissing, Valentine's day engagement, July wedding, two and a half kids, a dog, a house in the suburbs, a Benz and a Volvo, soccer balls. The mind plays funny tricks on us sometimes if we don't catch it, before they finally announced that the table is ready.
So it hit me, it hit me at that very moment. And from now on it will be known as our very own private Paradox. There will be no Valentine day's engagement. No kids and more than likely no dogs. What we are is a couple with kids, wives and husbands, dogs and cars, houses and soccer balls.
Just not together. We are no longer biologically twenty-something. Not for a long time. And the weekend is more sad than anything else, albeit beautifully and exquisitely, almost sadistically enjoyable. Because it will end in New Jersey, whether we want to or not. And none of them, none of the pairs of eyes looking at the two kissing kids from the corners of the room will ever know that they just witnessed the birth of the Boston Paradox. That, which is so transparent, yet can not be seen. That, which is so apparent, yet can not be explained. The soul that splashed outside through the eyes and the fingertips for a brief moment on the cold January weekend and, by its mere presence, confused so many so quickly. Including ourselves.