The sun was blazing and going down slow over Lake Harriet one day last week, and I was worshiping at my favorite place of meditation and music-making, the Lake Harriet Rose Gardens.
I was making like the singer/songwriter hero of my youth, John Denver, quietly playing my guitar and softly singing my favorite new song to the birds, trees, rabbits, and squirrels, perfectly lost in the tune, nature, sunset and moment, when three silhouettes — a young couple and a dude with a pro camera — came out of the sun and approached me.
I nodded in their direction, staying focused on the song. Tall boy silhouette took petite girl silhouette’s hands, they started dancing, and I made the song swing a little more. “Mind if I take some photos of you with them?” asked the guy with the big lens. I shook my head “No,” told him to go ahead, and upped the volume a little.
Summer in Minneapolis, just the four of us. Sunset, exploding. Babbling sparkling fountain waters, harmonizing with the heartfelt music, sweet breeze, and lilting songbirds. Airplane, roaring two thousand feet above us. Her, gazing up at his square strong jaw and into his eyes. Him, cradling her. Them, whipped. Them, looking like they want to devour each other right there on the lush lawn. Me, lucky little songsmith.
Off in the distance, a wedding party in formal suits and dresses traipsed through the green, green grass of our hometown and the psychedelic flora of the natural world. On the Facebook party on my computer back home, photos of giddy newlywed friends morphed with the trending news of the day: the upcoming 60th wedding anniversary of my mom and dad, Ann and Jerry Walsh, and the engagement of my niece, Sara Marie Brown, to the love of her life, Joseph Ciesla, a handsome young musichead and Harvard man whom all the ladies in the family have determined to be a catch of the highest order. In front of the fountain, on the bench whose plaque commemorates the memory of my late friend and neighbor, Karl Mueller, a couple of 20-something women talked animatedly, their legs and arms and futures entwined right here in gay marriage-friendly Minnesota.
Yep. True story. Love was and is in the air, young love in particular, and as I sang I could feel the young lovers’ palpable chemistry and desire, and I thought about the words of my therapist friends who preach to their experience- and communication-starved clients that sexual intimacy is the single most important ingredient of true love, and of something I read recently, in a piece by psychologist and blogger Mei Mei Fox and her husband.
“It’s a romance, not a ‘relationship,’” the couple wrote in their breezy but valuable Huffington Post piece “Ten Signs You’ve Found ‘The One.’” “You should feel swept away by your relationship. You ought to want to scream about your partner’s awesomeness to the world… Some people say you don’t need an initial spark of sexual attraction to form a satisfying and enduring romantic relationship. We disagree. When you first meet your person, there ought to be Fourth of July-worthy fireworks.”
No argument here. I ended my song, a new one that attempts to express the loneliness of our techno-connected world, and as the music faded the threesome shyly thanked me and started to go politely on their photo-shooting way. I stopped them and, after sussing out that they were making engagement photos, I told them I had another song for them, a love song I’d written, and they settled back into each other’s arms.
I played “All These Weeks,” a romantic diddy I wrote about falling in love and getting to know someone, and sang it with every piece of all my heart, because this was my wedding gift to them, and the best gig of my life. In the olden days the job of the town songwriter and singer was a sacred one, well-respected and revered for its role at celebrations, weddings, funerals and other rites of passage, and rarely have I felt so minstrel-worthy than when these two kids slow-danced and looked lovingly into one another’s souls.
Then the silhouettes moved on, and I kept playing. I was happy for the moment to have simply happened, and for their names to remain a mystery to me forever. Just as I was getting comfortable with the idea of letting it all be, the trio returned to the scene of our make-out session for some more photos by the flowers. I got the photographer’s information and asked him to send me some shots, which he did, including the one that accompanies this love letter.
Their names were Nate and Katie, but for all their erotic romantic energy and fast-spreading good vibes they could’ve been Huck and Becky, Orpheus and Eurydice, Johnny and June, Romeo and Juliet, or Lancelot and Guinevere, and no matter what version of love you subscribe to, no matter how many times your heart has been lifted or broken, their hopeful love sprang eternal and gushed forth like fountain waters on a perfect summer day.