This boomer saw real love in Santa Cruz

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, why not read a story by Sherrill Pool Elizondo about Love in Santa Cruz?

Sometimes one is fortunate to be able to observe meaningful exchanges between strangers that can bring a smile to your face. Such an occurrence happened to me during a trip to Santa Cruz.

Never a huge fan of romantic novels or Hollywood-produced love stories without a broader plot or more intellectual story line, it came as a surprise that I was intrigued by what I saw one balmy September evening. My husband and I flew to San Francisco back in 2013 to celebrate our oldest grandson’s birthday. Instead of staying where they lived and having a party, we went with him and his parents and siblings on a trip to Santa Cruz.

We stayed in a cozy well-maintained motel and walked to the Boardwalk and pier often. The children loved the rides and activities and we found a good seafood restaurant on the evening of the birthday itself. There was a waiting list, so we sat in the bar area and had appetizers and drinks. The children were occupied with each other and coloring while I talked with my daughter-in-law. My husband and son sat alone at a table behind us engrossed in their own conversation. Directly behind my daughter-in-law, in this crowded noisy place, sat a young couple deeply engaged in a serious conversation. I did not mean to stare but could not help myself. They were oblivious to everyone!

Part of the famous amusement park at Santa Cruz, CA.

I’ve never witnessed in my entire life such an intense, non-physical, romantic exchange between two people. Though very pretty, the woman’s beauty seemed to radiate from within and she didn’t seem concerned about how she appeared to others. She was totally focused on the gentleman.They were not seated across from each other but rather next to each other. They were not animated with gestures or overtly affectionate but rather just intense and focused on each other’s words. Neither was checking cell phones or staring at the TV.

I finally told my daughter-in-law to try to glance over her shoulder… nonchalantly! She smiled and commented that it was nice to know there was still love like that in the world. They never stopped gazing into each other’s eyes and the woman in particular seemed to hang on to the man’s every word. There was no silly flirtatious laughter, but something was exchanged at a much deeper level I am certain, though I did not actually hear one single word.

Were they sweethearts who had known each other for years or was it a first date? Could they have been separated from each other and just found each other again? Were they married to each other? Or perhaps to other people? Were they celebrating a special anniversary? Were they locals or tourists? I’ll never know their story. That’s how it should be and how I want it to be.

Sherrill with grandchildren.

What I observed that night, if somehow captured in a photograph, would be a perfect Valentine’s Day card.

Then suddenly this man and woman, who only had eyes for each other, suddenly were gone. I assumed their table was ready.

I later wondered how I could create a touching love story. It’s difficult to paint a picture in words of the loving exchange I observed. I could make up names and create the lives they lived, but that story would have no meaning without the mystery of what their love story was truly about. I believe that what I witnessed was a very real few minutes of a couple in love who just happened to be sitting at a nearby table in a Santa Cruz restaurant having a romantic interlude one lovely September evening.


  1. Beautiful imagery! One can just see the lovely image that you witnessed. It didn’t need a beginning or an end. It was the beauty of that moment in their lives. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Diane, for reading the story and commenting. Love In Santa Cruz was originally somewhat longer with more detail and first seen in 2014 on Santa Cruz Patch and again in 2017 on Grand Magazine. I was delighted to be able to share with other readers here.

  2. Seeing people in love is magical. They need no words. Makes me smile just imagining your same thoughts. So romantic! Great job describing your thoughts!

    1. Denise, thanks for the kind words. Am thrilled that you read and enjoyed the story…my Valentine gift for those who believe there is still love like that in the world.

  3. What a wonderful thing you witnessed. I live in the Santa Cruz area so it touches my heart a little bit more. Makes me wonder if this couple could have been someone I know. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Corinna, Santa Cruz is really a very lovely place. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant where I saw this couple! I am glad you read my story and enjoyed it.

    1. I’m always observing events or people around me wherever I travel, Jennifer. People you actually meet or just observe while on a trip is always a part of the adventure.

  4. Loved your story. I am very much a people watcher…it used to be my favorite thing about going to the airport. It is so intriguing to witness that emotional exchange. Lovely remembrance on Valentine’s.

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