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最真挚的爱情

The best kind of love

I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims the sky is bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15 pounds and looks like a cover girl.

“I’m young again!” she shouts exuberantly.

As my friend raves on about her new love, I’ve taken a good look at my old one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott, has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon runner, he now runs only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his body shows the signs of long working hours and too many candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a restaurant table and I want to ask for the check and head home.

When my friend asked me “What will make this love last?” I ran through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical attraction, communication. Yet there’s more. We still have fun. Spontaneous good times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber band off the rolled up newspaper, Scott flipped it playfully at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at the grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who could make it to the checkout first. Even washing dishes can be a blast. We enjoy simply being together.

And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note on the front door that led me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in closet. I opened the door to find Scott holding a “pot of gold ” (my cooking kettle) and the “treasure” of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him notes on the mirror and little presents under his pillow.

There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the guys. And he understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the kids―and even him-to meet my sisters for a few days of nonstop talking and laughing.

There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and parental burdens―we also share ideas. Scott came home from a convention last month and presented me with a thick historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and science fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my heart when he explained it was because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas about the book after I’d read it.

There is forgiveness. When I’m embarrassingly loud and crazy at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some of our savings in the stock market, I gave him a hug and said, “It’s okay. It’s only money.”

There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door with that look that tells me it’s been a tough day. After he spent some time with the kids, I asked him what happened. He told me about a 60-year-old woman who’d had a stroke. He wept as he recalled the woman’s husband standing beside her bed, caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this husband of 40 years that his wife would probably never recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the medical crisis. Because there were still people who have been married 40 years. Because my husband is still moved and concerned after years of hospital rooms and dying patients.

There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and confessed her fear that her husband is losing his courageous battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to lunch with a friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce. On Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her father-in-law’s personality. On Friday a childhood friend called long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the phone and thought, This is too much heartache for one week. Through my tears, as I went out to run some errands, I noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus outside my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son and his friend as they played. I caught sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor’s house. The bride, dressed in satin and lace, tossed her bouquet to her cheering friends. That night, I told my husband about these events. We helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and that the joys counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us going.

Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of the hamper every night; he’ll be late to most appointments and eat the last chocolate in the box. He knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head; I’ll lock us out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the last chocolate.

I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the sky is not bluer: it’s just a familiar hue. We don’t feel particularly young: we’ve experienced too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our bodies, and created our memories.

I hope we’ve got what it takes to make our love last. As a bride, I had Scott’s wedding band engraved with Robert Browning’s line “Grow old along with me!” We’re following those instructions.

If anything is real, the heart will make it plain.

  最真挚的爱情

  我有一个朋友正在热恋中,她发自内心地说,天空都好像更蓝了。莫扎特的音乐让她感动涕零。自恋爱以来,她体重已经减了十五磅,现在苗条得活像封面女郎。

  “我又年轻了!”她欢呼道。

  在我朋友不停地对她的新欢赞不绝口的时候,我好好审视了我的老相好一番。丈夫斯科特和我结婚近二十年,体重增加了十五磅。以前他是马拉松选手,现在却只是从楼上跑到楼下的医院大厅。他的发线不断后移,从他的体形你就可以看出他经常工作过度,吃太多甜食。但在约会的时候,餐桌对面的他仍还能够向我使确定的眼神,然后我会意要结账回家去了。

  当我的朋友问我“是什么让这份爱延续至今”时,我不假思索地罗列了这些显而易见的因素:责任感、共同的兴趣、无私、身体吸引力,还有沟通。当然,除了这些其他更多的原因。比如,我们到现在还相处得非常开心,那是生活中简单的幸福。昨天,斯科特把原本捆扎着卷起的报纸的橡皮筋拉下来,然后顽皮地把它弹向我,“战争”就此一发不可收拾了;上周六在杂货店,我们把购物清单一分为二,比赛看谁先完成购物,先到达收银台者就算胜利。就是一起洗碗的时候我们也可以大斗一翻。只要在一起,我们就能开心不已。

  我们常常都给对方惊喜。有一次,我从外面回家,发现前门上贴着一张小纸条,纸条指引我找到另一张纸条,接着再一张,最后我走到小储物室,打开门,发现斯科特手里捧着“金罐子”(我的蒸煮锅)和内装着“财富”的大礼包。有时候我也会把给他的纸条贴在镜子上,把小礼物偷偷藏到他的枕头底下。

  我们相互理解。我理解为什么他一定要和老朋友打篮球,而他也理解为什么我每年都要远离家、抛下孩子甚至他,去与姐妹们参加一次聚会,连续几天,不停地聊啊笑啊。

  我们共同分享。我们不但分担家庭之忧和作为父母的责任,我们还分享各自的见解。上月,斯科特参加一个会议,给我带了一本很厚的历史小说回来。尽管他更喜欢惊栗和科幻小说,他还是在飞机上把那本小说看完了。他解释说是为了在我把书看完以后能够相互交换见解。听到这番话时,我的心颤动了。

  我们相互谅解。当我在派对上不顾面子,疯狂地喧闹时,斯科特原谅了我;而当他坦白承认用我们的一点积蓄炒股亏了钱时,我紧紧抱住他安慰说:“没关系,钱财乃身外之物。”

  我们都是性情中人。上周,他回家进门的时候,我从他的神情看得出,他过了艰难的一天。他和孩子们玩了一会儿后,我问他发生了什么事。他告诉我一个六十岁的老太太患了中风。当回想起病人的丈夫站在她的床边爱抚着她的手的时候,他流泪了。他怎么忍心告诉和病人相处了四十年的丈夫,他妻子可能将永远无法康复!我也流下了眼泪,因为那可怕的病,因为这世上还有婚姻维持了四十年的人,还因为我的丈夫这么多年来在医院目睹过无数垂死的病人后还有感动和怜悯之心!

  我们都有坚定的信念。上周四一个朋友到我家,向我表露了她对于她丈夫逐渐失去和癌症搏斗的勇气的忧虑。周三,我和一个朋友吃午饭,她正努力重建离婚后的生活。周四,一个邻居致电告诉我,可怕的老年性痴呆症困扰着她公公。周五,一个儿时的玩伴打长途电话告诉我,她的父亲去世了。我把电话放下,心想怎么一周内接连发生那么多让人揪心的悲剧。泪眼模糊的我走出门外准备做点什么,这时我发现窗外橙色的剑兰花竞相开放,耳边传来儿子和伙伴们玩耍时的欢声笑语,邻居正在举行婚宴,新娘子穿着缎和花边修饰的婚纱,将花球抛向欢呼雀跃的朋友们中。那夜,我把这一切都告诉了丈夫,我们互相安慰,明白人生轮回,悲欢离合总相随。我们就这样相濡以沫地生活下去。

  最后一个原因是,我们相知相识。我知道斯科特每晚都会把换洗的衣服扔向洗衣篓,却总是扔不进去;我知道他在大部分约会中都会迟到,因此会被罚吃掉最后剩下的一块巧克力。他知道我睡觉的时候喜欢用枕头蒙头,每隔一段时间我会忘记带钥匙,我们因此而进不了家门,然后我也会自觉吃掉最后一块巧克力。

  我想,是舒适的感觉让我们的爱延续。天空并没有变得更蓝,它还是昨天我们熟悉的颜色;我们也不再感觉年轻:我们已经历了太多,而这些经历让我们成长,变得理性,为我们增值,并构成了我们的回忆。

  我希望我们已经得到延续爱情的秘诀。我们结婚的时候,斯科特给我的戒指上刻着罗伯特?布朗宁的诗词“一直陪我直到老吧!”我们一直都恪守着这誓言。

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