When I was young, I made all the usual mistakes young people make, especially about love. It’s taken me years to understand and appreciate what love truly is; it’s no fairy tale, it isn’t Romeo and Juliet, and it isn’t a made-for-TV romance. It’s far from glamorous, it isn’t perfect and it isn’t clear-cut all the time. In fact, I’m still figuring it out.
What I do know about love is this: love is both wonderful and messy, it’s unexpected, it’s less or more than what you think it may be or should be. It can have you soaring above the earth, and yet have your feet planted firmly on the ground. It is agreements and disagreements, promises that don’t all make it to reality. It’s worry and fear and concern and care along side dizzying joy and and blinding happiness.
It’s sitting with a parent in a hospital, waiting for them to wake up after surgery. It’s gripping your partner’s hand and feeling all that strength pour into you when you have no strength of your own. It’s holding your grandchild in your arms for the first time and seeing all eternity in those brand-new eyes. It is rescuing an animal and giving it a home where it is loved, safe, cared for, well fed and healthy.
Love steals away your very breath; love gives you life and purpose. Love is fragile as a spider web, yet strong as steel cables. Love can make you soar like an eagle, or drop you face-down in the dirt.
When I was young, I couldn’t wait to be in love! I imagined all these romantic scenarios, and dreamt of the time I would meet the love of my life. But it turns out that love is often unscripted and capricious, and it isn’t always plain to see. I met the Crankee Yankee (my husband) when we were both in our mid-20s. He was getting ready to marry his first wife, and I was still dating guys to whom I attributed all those things I wanted but actually weren’t there.
Years later, when both of us had been divorced a good long while, we resumed the friendship we had always had over the years. It seems to me now that I had loved the Crankee Yankee for a long time and didn’t realize it. When we finally started dating, it didn’t take us long to fall in love. Neither of us had wanted to marry again; we both had said emphatically “Never again!” But you know how that goes; never say never.
What I know about love right now is that the best and loveliest sounds I ever hear is my loved ones laughing; the Crankee Yankee, my parents, my granddaughter, my dearest friends. The loves of my life are my safe harbor. Love makes me vulnerable; I know I can lose them at any time. But while we are all here together, I am grateful to the heart and soul for all that love in my life. Do I deserve it? I don’t know. But I do know that I am breathless with appreciation, giddy with all this magic in my life, and amazed and humbled all at once.
Love is a risk, a challenge, and often a plain old pain in the hinder. But living without it would be like being without air. Even now I am breathless with gratitude.