What is love? Baby don’t hurt me! Every Thursday Spotify creates a “throwback Thursday” playlist. This is one of those little things that bring me happiness during my week. I check it every Thursday as soon as I get to work (it’s the first thing I do after plugging in my computer to charge). I have this wonderful association now with listening to this every week with my coworker (sorry Holly) or husband and have them try to guess the theme based on the chosen songs; there is a different one every week. Sometimes there is a theme that stretches across several weeks, i.e. March is usually different influential women in music because it’s Women’s History Month. To my great delight, I discovered this week’s theme is celebrating 20 years since Moulin Rouge. Y’all, this is my favorite movie of all time! It hit right in that sweet spot of being a senior in high school, being in love for the first time, and being a huge musical theater/drama geek. Nicole Kidman had red hair (which you should know by now is a thing with me) and Ewan McGregor had amazing eyes and could sing (swoon). I had the soundtrack on CD and would sing to it at the top of my lungs in my car, in the shower, in recreations with my friends in the living room, you name it. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to it, so I cranked up the volume on my computer and began billing Medicaid (so a slightly different setting than being 17 and dressing up like a prostitute with my best friend, but I digress). I remembered every word to every song. I was so happy singing in my office, and then my mind started to drift to the plot of the movie. Really, I give Ben so much shit for loving Romeo and Juliet, but Christian and Satine were very similar. They fall in love immediately, can’t be together, and once they decide to finally reveal their truth and commit to each other, Satine dies (spoiler alert). It’s sad and tragic and hopelessly romantic, but is it really love? Can we really fall in love with someone immediately, or is that more lust, or both? Then, as my brain does, it slowly wandered into other areas and eventually tied in my thoughts regarding love to June being Pride Month.

"As humans, we tend to judge love that is foreign to us."

Now, I’m going to pause right here. LGBTQ+ means something different to me. For that, you need some background. My sister came out, officially, when she was in college. Before I knew Molly was gay, I didn’t really think about LGBTQ+ issues that much (because I didn’t have to). Having a personal connection made it real for me. Things that I never considered before were suddenly important. She had to worry about holding hands in public. She avoided telling some people because she was afraid of their response or their possible anger/judgment and then alienation. She couldn’t get married (this was before 2015), which meant she couldn’t put any partners on life insurance or next of kin. So many things that I was ignorant of.

OK, back to love. It’s estimated that over 100 million love songs have been recorded in different varieties. Romantic love, love for family, love for God, love for the Earth and animals. So many different ways to feel and experience love. We have words to describe the type of love we feel: tender, fond, intimate, warm, passionate, worship. As humans (or maybe just myself), we tend to judge love that is foreign to us. Romeo and Juliet were young and naïve, that’s not really love, and that’s easy for me to justify and dismiss very casually. But maybe that’s not fair. I’m 37, which is quite young to a 70-year-old. Does that mean that, conversely, I’m too young to understand love? The love I have for Ben is deeper and stronger than it was when we were teenagers, not necessarily better, just different. And the love I have for my children is something completely alien and hard to explain to an individual who doesn’t have children. But that doesn’t make my love superior, it just makes it mine.

One of my favorite passages about love, actually, comes from Love Actually (See that? See what I did there?!). “It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

"What happens if we start looking for love?"

When did we stop looking for love? Was it when we found out that the man with the cardboard sign on the street corner wasn’t really homeless? Or maybe it was when LGBTQ+ people got a WHOLE MONTH, but straight people didn’t get any months?! For some, it’s when you see someone using food stamps and that’s YOUR money or tax dollars. What happens if we start looking for love? Would we see a hungry child getting to eat a meal? Or perhaps a gay couple walking down the sidewalk, holding hands, without being afraid of fear or judgment?

I like to think that I see love all the time. I see it when a teacher re-positions a non-ambulatory student or carefully prepares and cleans up from a tube-feeding. I see love on the smiles of all my kiddos when they come and go from therapy. I hear love when I talk to my mom on the phone or my best friend sends me a ridiculous TikTok. I feel loved when I’m listening to Ed Sheeren and he sings “when your legs don’t work like they used to before” and I hear Ben yell at me from the other room “your legs don’t work now!’

Who remembers that famous movie quote, “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Y’all, that’s some bullshit. In fact, it takes all kinds of strength to say you are sorry or admit that you were wrong. So, friends, I’m sorry if your love has been judged. I’m sorry if you were ever scared to be yourself in public. I’m sorry if your relationship was judged to be inferior. I’d like everyone to know that you are loved.

-Katie A.

162 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All