I was obsessed with the idea of love when I was a little girl. Love was Shaun Cassidy gazing at me with his heart-stopping hazel eyes from the poster on my wall or the beautifully coiffed Andy Gibb serenading me from one of my first-ever 45’s. Love was Christopher Atkins in his tiny Tarzan-like loin cloth hunting food for Brooke Shields on a deserted island. Love was bad-boy-in-leather, Danny, stealing the heart of pretty-in-pearls Sandy.
Love was heart-stopping, pulse racing, can’t-get-enough-of-it-love.
I had this all figured out. My first "real" boyfriend would be straight from the pages of a Harlequin romance. He’d write well-crafted full-of gush poetry, sing sappy songs and shower me with inexpensive but thoughtful gifts. He’d tell me I was a sweet girl-next-door beautiful and he’d struggle with keeping his hands off me. I would wish I could just crawl into his skin. We’d plan to grow old together….
A handful of cute but not-quite-right boyfriends, a nasty divorce, and a successful second marriage later, I’ve developed my own older and wiser definition of love. While it’s not always the stuff of fairy tales, it’s bigger than that. It’s deeper than that. Love is the little things that are really the big things in life.
Love is moments.
Love was my grandmother greeting me at the door of each and every visit with a ice cold can of Tree Top apple juice and a pack of spearmint Trident gum. It was her soft, warm hug when the time sadly came to say goodbye. Love was her wave from the balcony of her apartment that my little body had to earnestly stretch to catch a glimpse of through the car window as my dad drove us away.
Love was my ambitious single mom going back to school at night after a long day of work so she could give more to her kids. Love was her meticulously counting Christmas gifts to be sure our Santa piles were even. Love was her moving across the country to live near me just in time for my marriage to suddenly and painfully end and for my daring new life as a single mom to begin. Love was her playfully, devotedly caring for my babies while I went back for my graduate degree at night in order be capable of doing more for my children just as she’d done for my brother and me so many years ago.
Love was my dad faithfully taking us out into the parks, mountains and coastlines of California during our weekend visits with him in order to teach us to appreciate the jaw-dropping beauty of nature...and never to litter. Love was his hand placed gently on my neck as we’d stroll along. Love was his gently expressed words of encouragement when times were tough and his beaming pride in the things I did well. Love was the wisdom he shared about the fact that "Most people in the world are good" and the silly examples he would share of the public's obedience (such as pointing out all of the cars moving about on the right side of the road).