I believe that love and structures of love come in many forms.
I remember the first time I fell in love. It was with my parents. They were beautiful, young, dynamic, and loving. Going out to dinner with them, sitting between them on the sofa, telling them both good-night defined perfect bliss. They hung the moon.
Then it was the twin gray kittens I got for Easter. I could play with them for hours. I thought of them off and on when I was at school. I carefully groomed and fed them.
Later, girlfriends. Who was the most popular, charming, generous? Certain names would show up in Slam Jam books. One would pray to be invited to their birthday parties, receive Valentines, be allowed to play jump rope with “best” friends .
A bit later, boyfriends. I had had crushes since first grade, but in middle school, the interests became obsessions, whether it was Bobby Sherman’s picture in a magazine or that cute rowdy boy in class. I wrote notes to them, sent or unsent. Girlfriends and I would giggle about who liked whom. Sometimes we cried if a boy we liked preferred another.
Gradually, my own hobbies profoundly touched my heart and mind: writing, ballet, painting, choir. I discovered there was much under the sun to enjoy. Later in college, books and studies consumed my passions. Learning finally became a type of rapture. Thank goodness. I wish this for everyone.
Languages and cultures…From my junior year abroad on, I was amoureuse de la France. I then fell in love with travel in general.
The lovers of my youth, my kind ex-husband, my current, long-standing special friend/boyfriend, relatives now deceased whom I appreciate more with each passing year as I realize how much they gave of themselves for my and others’ benefit, the family members I still have around me. These important people mark and shape us like lines on a hand or face. Each experience of deeply knowing each other, risking, enduring as long as possible adds to the elixir of the soul’s blood and life.
I have also fallen in love with my profession of teaching: my precious students. Also my fantastic nieces and nephews. Although I have no children of my own, I recognize parental love as being one of the strongest forces on earth.
Animals comfort. Flowers and sunsets continue to make me pause in admiration. I continue to feel reverence when I pray in church or meditate alone, feeling the presence of a Higher Power. Hearing from a true friend can still “make my day.” A good book, an interesting documentary or movie excites. The heart ticks, the mind works, and we are moved. What is more important than these many loves and passions? So much variety. So much choice. All forms of love are there for the taking as we continually reveal what exactly we have to give.