I met an older couple in line for the TSA
Young enough to manage their suitcases onto a conveyer belt
Old enough that no one makes them take off their shoes.
She tells me about a Harvard psychologist who studies happiness and the power of positive thinking,
Have I heard of him?
I tell her I haven't, it sounds interesting.
She tries to spell his name,
I try to type it into my phone so she knows I mean it
But they rush us along, there is a line forming
My phone must join all other devices in the scanner.
"Thank you" I say into her glowing face.
"Isn't she marvelous?" her husband replies.
On the other side of the scanning machine,
As I put on my shoes and they reassemble their bags,
She remembers his name:
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar
I rescue my phone, she spells as I type
I promise her I'll look him up.
Her blouse is mussed from the chaos of being searched
He fixes her upturned collar
"It's just me, your husband" he says,
His hand at the nape of her neck
"I know" she replies "I know my husband's touch."
I wonder if I asked them their secret,
If their eyes would twinkle in reply:
"Never going to bed angry" or
"The work of Harvard psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar"
I wonder if their secret is actually putting up with too much,
Bending backwards too deeply,
Contorting themselves into a fleshy, co-dependent submission.
I wonder if she'd give me some problematic advice that would destroy me
"Always have makeup on before he comes home" or
"Remember to let him feel like he's in charge."
I wonder how dark their dark years have been,
If this ready intimacy is the reward for losing and finding each other so many times.
Perhaps no one finds themselves truly invested
In the work of Harvard positivity psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar
Until they've had an affair or seven or worse.
But mostly I wonder if you'd ever let me love you like that
My hands at your collar
In the presence of a stranger
Holding up a line of travelers
"Isn't she marvelous?"