Sunday, February 12, 2012

BUS STORY # 275 (Portrait # 16: The Couple)

They look like a couple out of an Amado Pena portrait.

I’d put him in his 40s. He’s not skinny, but he doesn’t carry any extra weight, either. Intense black eyes in a face that looks hard, but not mean. He’s not what you’d call handsome, but he’s definitely arresting.

She looks ten years younger. And while she gives me the impression she’s lived through exactly the same things that have made him look so hard (and very probably right there at his side then, too), her features are softer. She’s not beautiful or pretty, and certainly not cute. She is handsome.

Together, they look strong. I find it difficult to keep my eyes off them.

Sometimes there is conversation of a sort. He is the initiator. He leans in, and looking straight ahead, says a very few words in a very quiet voice. She responds in the same manner. They rarely need more than the single exchange.

My sense is that he is asking her about something that requires a decision or direction, or perhaps a confirmation. He defers to her without giving anything up. She knows how to accept that deferral without taking anything away.

This interaction doesn’t happen every time, and when it does, it only happens once on the ride. Still, I’ve seen it often enough that I’ve come to view it as ritualized, each word and gesture freighted with a world of shared understanding.

I’ve seen her on occasion by herself, and she is something less than when she is with him. I’ve never seen him by himself, but I feel sure it would be the same.

My wife would think of them as “soul mates.” I think of them as two halves, a male half and a female half, of a whole. The whole, of course, being greater than the sum of its parts.

The photo at the top of this story is of a painting titled “Mestizo Series: Los Novios” by Amado Pena, and is taken from the website AVANCE’s 10th Annual Toma Mi Corazon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely Valentine vignette. Thank you

7:44 AM  

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