July 28, 2008

How do I love thee?

I had a conversation over the weekend with a friend about that four letter word, "love". I am given to exaggeration, and I said I probably had been in love 20 times. Of course this statement came with a disclaimer regarding the definition of love and a pile of discourse about how other languages have several different words for love. But the jist was that I love easily and generously.

My first love, after my parents and siblings, was a friend of the family. He was visiting us over the summer on a motorcycle ride across the United States, with everything he needed packed into a backpack. He had spent time in the Peace Corps and was used to living a minimal lifestyle. I followed him around the entire time he was there, asking him a million and one questions. With a patience that awes me as an adult, he answered every single one of my questions. He visited again on his trip back and brought me two record albums of Tony Orlando, which at seven years old was my favorite show. I absolutely loved him with every ounce of little girl adulation I could muster. I saw him a few years ago, and told him he was my first love. I think he fell in love a little bit back, because suddenly he remembered how he looked 35 years ago through the eyes of a girl. I reminded him of the days when instead of climbing behind the wheel of his sensible car, with the radio tuned to the classical music station, he tore up the pavement without a helmet and slept under the stars. His weathered skin wrinkled into a broad smile and his white hair seemed to grow and turn black again. He transformed in that moment, as did I. I gave him a hug and thanked him for a lifetime of inspiration.

That first love set me on a course for falling in love on a regular basis. There are those who will argue that wasn't love, and try to limit or redefine the most intense thing that exists. A rose by any other name, simply has a different name, but is not anything less than a rose.

(1 Cor, 13:13)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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