My wife and I were high school sweethearts—for half of sophomore year, that is. We attended colleges 427 miles apart. She returned home for high school reunions, I didn’t. We neither saw nor spoke for thirty-two years. During our decades apart, she had her first bout with breast cancer; I lost the ability to see faces. When we reconnected, we shared lots of stories and, in the telling, she sounded the same as I remembered. Then and now, when I hear her voice, I see the face of a sixteen year-old girl.
My last trip to the picture show when I could see the picture was The Untouchables. That was around 1989, when the blind spots in my visual field meant I had to look from one face to another to follow the conversation. I saw that Sean Connery was balding. I had noticed that I too was balding. I saw how virile a balding Sean Connery was. I thought the same applied to me. But my algebraic truth that if a=b and b=c, then a=c sadly didn’t apply when a = Sean Connery and c = me. At least, that’s what my friends told me, and, bless them, they broke the news in a Disney way.
At our wedding seven years ago, the friend who introduced us read from my wife’s sophomore yearbook “Hey,” I had written, “it was fun being your boyfriend for four and a half months (132 days). Maybe we should try it again sometime—like in 25 or 30 years.” Everybody oohed and aahed. I smiled serenely, like a prophet. I scanned every face, every dear face that had not changed in forty years. And I saw and heard kindness and caring, joy and love. And I became aware of what beauty truly means and where it dwells. And then I kissed my beautiful bride.