Nine adults, sitting around a table, chatting ... laughing.
Our hosts have done this before - they move as a seamless team, offering chairs, filling water glasses, pulling chicken off the grill.
Stories are traded, jokes are made, gentle observations offered.
Watcher that I am, I listen carefully, and keep quieter than usual. I enjoy the fact that no one is spilling milk, demanding their Lamby fork, or bolting their food so they can go biking.
My husband makes an inadvertent joke that gets the biggest guffaws of the evening, and I catch his eye across the table. I give him the smallest of winks, the one that says 'you make me laugh the most.'
I listen as two of the couples tell stories of their weddings - weddings that happened before I was born. I watch as our host smiles at his wife's story - he doesn't let on if he's heard it before - the smile is almost internal. Another couple laughs in the exact same spot in a story, and both shake their heads ruefully - they could be sharing the same thought bubbles if they were in a comic strip.
I am startled, all of the sudden, by the realization that I am watching these couples, these old friends, cement their relationship in the quotidien. I see the map showing where a lifetime together will take you - to a friend's dinner table, where you will finish one of your husband's jokes, and laugh at another one, and sit quietly in the confidence of his arm around the back of your chair.
I want that, the Watcher whispered to herself. I want that, for my best friend and I.