Like everybody else in this world, I love my own music. There is nothing quite like the little bubble one can create with headphones plugged in and sneakers on, striding through an airport or a crowded marketplace or the streets of the hood, yet totally and utterly alone, encased in a world of one's own making.
But sometimes, perhaps, it's nice to take them off, to engage with all those funny people striding through the same worlds, if only we knew.
Today, in O'Hare Airport for Day Two of my saga, I sat on a little bench overlooking one of the many tarmacs and worked on a story for my blog, without benefit of headphones for insulation or inspiration. A couple about my age sat next to me on the bench and because, I suppose, I seemed totally wapped in my own work, they chatted with each other as if I wasn't there.
I was so touched by their regard for each other, by their concern for the other's comfort. I listened as they spoke on the phone with their children (exactly the way I would have spoken with mine), and then as they took care of each other as one does in airports ("Feel like a cup of tea?" Is that sweet enough for you?").
And so, when I got up to go towards my gate, I couldn't help but tell them how they had moved me.
"I have to tell you," I said, somewhat hesitatingly, "You guys seem like you have such a wonderful relationship."
They looked up, surprised, and then both of them smiled widely and with true emotion. "Oh thank you!" the man said. "Thanks for saying that. Have a great day."
And as I walked away, I knew it would be one of their memories: the day a stranger noticed how much they loved each other and maybe, perhaps, one day when they don't feel quite so loving, they will remember how obvious it was to one who didn't know them and they will recall their best selves and carry on.
I like to think so. And if I had had my headphones on, they would have just been statues on the bench.