Most of the wildlife have already prepared to hibernate. Just last week I saw a bunch of geese buzzing south for the winter and I thought is that a murder or a gaggle? Hmm. I couldnt remember. All I cared about was the cruel hoax that God had played on me by not giving me wings to fly south! I really wanted to get out of town but the finances wouldn't support my desire to pick up and go anywhere, everywhere! Unfortunately I was the typical impulse buyer and every payday I found myself dead broke. Of course, when you buy a new house you also need a new car right? It seemed right until I painfully peered into the checkbook tonight. I had enough to grab a cheap dinner and enough gas to get me to the beach. I kept laughing about my little trip. I do love the water but it didn't make a hell of a lot of sense to spend a romantic evening alone. I figured I wouldn't tell anyone. I wasn't one to meet up with friends after their vacation to Europe to watch their slide show so I wouldn't disclose my little evening suare's either. I decided that I didn’t want to be bothered and what better place to get away from everyone than an evening at the lake. My time walking on the beach normally provides me with a little inspiration and I love the fresh cool evening air. I'm also a sucker for the sounds of the waves as they clash against the shore. Although I would love to have someone with me I haven't been lucky enough to find the right one. In fact, I don't believe in fate or any of that other hoopla about true love. Well, I didn't believe in it until tonight. When I arrived I noticed that as the cool evening air drifted above the warm autumn water, a very heavy fog had formed. It was a little eerie but I figured if there was a monster or stalker out there in the fog, he'd have just as much trouble seeing me as I did him. That would give me a little bit of a chance to get away. I kind of laughed as I thought about the prospects of being killed in a monster movie type death. It's funny how our minds wander as we contemplate such silly oddities in life. Either way I was determined to navigate my way to the beach, set up my beach chair that I'd bought at the local store, and enjoy some late autumn solitude. I wasn’t expecting that tonight would change everything about the way I thought about true love and relationships. I arrived at the beach and navigated my way through the fog, just close enough to the surf to listen and to quietly dream. There was a chill in the air but I didn’t mind. As I sat there I noticed a young couple walking along the lake shore. They made the trek because, I figured like me, they apparently didn't want to be noticed by the world. They must have known in their hearts that they would be sheltered from onlookers by the dusk and the late evening fog. I could hear them chatting as they passed. I decided to follow them through the fog, leaving my chair in the sand, maintaining just enough distance to stay out of sight. As they chatted I heard her call him her "moon & stars". And he responded with some type of incoherent speech followed by, "Sunshine". Not even the dusk or the fog could hide her lovliness. Her beautiful dark brown hair carried the mist from damp evening dew. He must have noticed as he ran his fingers across her face and and down her neck. I was close enough to see a diamond ring on her finger. I thought to myself how lucky these two were to have one another. They barely spoke a word as they embraced and looked into each other's eyes. She tilted her head back and forth as did he while they examined every fibre of expression coming from the other. She giggled a little. I inhaled the fresh evening air and thought about what it would be like to be caught up in something so amazing. The ring on her finger wasn't the typical gigantic Hope Diamond type that you would expect from two people truly in love, which seemed rather odd. I chalked it up to them relying less on the material things in life. Maybe for these two emotion meant more than "stuff". I knelt in the sand and watched him gently roll out a blanket as she waited. I wondered what she was thinking at that moment. A beautiful married woman with the man of her dreams; the one who would defend her with his life; the one who she would have children with; live her dreams with; the one that she would make love with this night. How wonderful. I'd been through so many relationships that I had forgotten what it meant to love. I sat in the cool sand and listened as she sat next to him. I couldn't help but notice that all the while they sat there one or the other seemed to be touching or stroking the others, hair, shoulders, legs, arms, something. It always amazes me how young couples who are truly in love never seem to be able to get enough of each other. I miss being truly wanted and needed. They chatted on and on about life and love. Occasionally I would hear her voice another mans name and I realized that she must have a brother or close friend. But the more I heard the voice the more I thought it was a friend because he didn't seem to like the name. That was a little odd. Most men are somewhat jealous and although he did his best not get upset, somewhere through the mist I could feel his pain. As the night wore on they spent more time talking about this fellow and I realized that it must have been someone from her past. It saddened me that such a beautiful couple, with so much to look forward to, were caught up on reliving the past. Occasionally she'd cry and he'd hold her in his arms. Those moments would last for many minutes and even though an occasional cool breeze would find it's way in from the lake, their love seemed to warm my heart. I heard him talking about children and she'd respond with a gasp. He'd talk about building a house to fill it with the 6 children that they would have and she'd laugh. She'd talk about never being truly in love until she met him and how blessed she was. Her words always followed something he'd say, as if each felt the need to reassure the other. I eagerly listened as they planned their future. I wondered what it would be like to come home to a beautiful wife and 6 children and how incredible it would be to sit around the dinner table talking about the day. He promised her that he would come home every day from work and the first thing he'd do would tell her how beautiful she was, and how much he loved her. She laughed and promised to greet him at the door to surprise him. Next to their blanket lay a stick in the sand. He picked it up and started drawing the plans for their house. It wasn't his best work because they laughed themselves to tears. He'd draw, she'd smudge out the drawing, suggesting that the master bedroom had to go here or the skylights would go there. Then there was the fireplace, the marble countertops, and the flower garden out back near the patio. I closed my eyes and listened as they built their house in the sand. While he continued to outline the future, she turned to him and said, "I want to make love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you." I thought that seemed obvious since she had a ring on her finger. It was so wonderful sitting there listening to their amazing stories. He told her of things that he’d written just for her. Sometime during the evening he even read a poem that he had written for her, and it made her cry. I thought the poem was so beautiful, I felt that I'd cry too. At one point, she turned to him and asked, "how much do you love me?" Immediately he stretched out both hands, put them together and plunged them into the sand. He lifted them to the sky and as he did the sand syphoned through his fingers and fell gently to the ground. "As many grains of sand as there are falling from my hands" he paused, "this will be the number of years that I will love you." His words found their way to the deepest parts of her soul. There was so much love and compassion in his voice. They both watched silently as the sand continued to seep through his fingers. She tried clearing her throat as she began to cry, "so you'll love me for the rest of my life?" He paused for just a moment and whispered, "No, but I will love you for the rest of mine." With that she exhaled with excitement. If I hadn't been sitting down I think I would have passed out or at least peed my pants. I've never seen so much of a connection between two people in all my life. It was amazing. They chatted and laughed late into the evening. I sat there for so long that the dew settled into my clothes giving me just a little chill as a cool breeze blew in from the lake. Occasionally she would fiddle with her ring, take it off and then put it back on. Then he’d take the ring and stick it in the sand cover it up and then whisper things to her. She’d listen intently and then slowly dig her ring out of the sand followed by an eerie silence. In those moments, time literally stood still. I was certain that they’d hear me breathing, as I anticipated every word. As I sat there and listened I realized that these two weren’t were trying to work through a problem. It wasn’t until he got up and started to walk away that it became clear to me. They weren't actually married. I finally got it! I wanted to jump up in victory but I couldn’t. My legs were fast asleep. For a moment I thought I was crippled. I laughed under my breath and looked back to where she sat. The ring on her finger wasn't from him. That’s why he’d bury it in the sand! I had it all figured out. He must have been trying to convince her to stay with him! The conversation apparently led to her making the decision to choose her other life over the one they so carefully mapped out this night. It must have been very painful to make the decision. One that I was certain they would regret for the rest of their lives. As I sat there pondering the reality of love and the pain that it usually brings I heard her cry his name and just as suddenly she ran past me. I could literally hear her footsteps and I’m sure that I felt her breath as she passed by me disappering into the fog. “Wait!” she yelled. I could hear her sobbing, “wait! I love you!... don't leave!” I followed her footsteps in the sand as best I could until I came acrross what appeared to be apparitions in the mist. They were embracing, crying, laughing, holding, caressing, kissing. "Please don't leave me" she pleaded. "I can't live without you." There was a long pause and then she followed up with, "I won't live without you." I think they stood there for an hour in each others arms. I don’t know if either of them said a word the whole time. I was totally mesmerized. As quickly as they came into my life he walked her to her side of the car. He stopped for a moment and ran his fingers through her hair and then he looked at her. I wish I could describe it. It was as if….. as if he had seen an angel. Then they embraced with the most beautiful kiss. I was still recovering from the moment as she got into his car. "Where do you want to go?" he asked. "Anywhere, everywhere, as long as I'm with you". He laughed and closed her door. I stood there for many minutes. As I watched the tail lights disappear into the fog I imagined the hardships they were to face and the hearts that would be broken because of their decision. I laughed as I began to walk back to my car reflecting on her question about love, "how much do you love me?" As sure as the grains of sand fell from his hands, his love would be greater than any she had ever known and certainly more than she would ever need. And she knew it.