Mark and Molly sat on the bench watching the throngs stroll by. Cherry blossom time in DC was one of their favorite times to be in the city. Although they loved the blooming trees, it was the people-watching that they enjoyed more. They’d stake out their spots on their favorite bench, put the picnic basket between them on the ground in front of the bench, and settle in for some special shared time. They both had busy careers, and of course they had the kids at home. They had always made a point of planning special time for just the two of them. It was never as often as they’d have liked, but it was nonetheless a regular event. They’d agreed from the very beginning that they’d put these times on their calendars with the same level of commitment as they’d put a doctor’s appointment or a professional meeting. They’d been coming to DC for the cherry blossoms for years. Each year was a little different. Not only were the people on display different each year, but so were the things that occupied their conversation over the hours camped out on the bench. They’d talk about the people walking by, enjoying and wondering at the diversity that presented itself to them. Over the years they had collected many shared memories on that bench, some of which still set them to giggling. The year of the mimes was still the one that cracked them up the fastest. More than as a passive audience though, they were there to be together and to share thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, aspirations, joys, and satisfactions. In one of the earliest years, the conversation had revolved around how they were going to afford grad school for both of them. That conversation had gone on for hours while they’d talked about their respective dreams for their future career paths. They also had concerns about how they’d balance out work, school, and their marriage, and find time for all of it.The sharing had made it all seem so much more possible, especially since they’d spoken of a shared faith in each other and in their marriage. A couple of years later it had been a conversation focused on figuring out how to manage their work and school schedules to provide childcare for their first baby. That had also been the conversation where they’d shared their dreams for their child’s future. The ideas had ranged freely from ballet dancer to president, astronaut to zookeeper. It was in that conversation that she’d learned that he’d originally dreamed of becoming a physician, until he’d realized in college that he hated his science classes. She’d shared that as a child she’d dreamed of becoming a linguist, fluent in at least eight languages. Her absolute inability to learn even the simplest of foreign languages had quashed that idea. They’d laughed together over the twists that had led them to their own ultimate career paths, which they both loved. She confessed that she still had her toe shoes and fantasized about becoming a ballerina; he acknowledged that rodeo clown was his own secret fantasy career. Each year the conversations were different, as different as the people who paraded in front of their bench. Last year had been about the imminent need to find a good assisted living facility for his mom; this year it was the same thing for her dad. These conversations naturally wandered into sharing memories of their childhoods. There was laughing over the funny memories, crying over the sad ones, puzzlement over the family mysteries that would now never be solved. Who was Aunt Lizzie related to anyway? And why did she live with his parents? At the end of each of these bench conversations they were more connected than they had been before. They knew more about each other, understood more, and always felt even more affection for each other. They always ended up more tolerant and compassionate with each other after they’d had a “sharing” day. The more they knew about each other, the better they knew each other, the more they felt connected, and therefore the more they cared. They understood each other so much more that it was easy to want the best for each other. Every year’s sharing was different; every year brought them closer. But it was still the year of the mimes that made them laugh the hardest.