“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
I’ve always adored that line from Love Actually. The cadence in Hugh Grant’s delivery is spot on, and it happens while watching hundreds of strangers greet their loved ones at the airport. (Go on, click on that and watch it. Best minute of your day, maybe). I love it for its cinematic skill, for the nostalgia it brings since I watch it at least once every Christmas, and for how it makes me miss the days when you actually COULD greet people as they stepped off the plane. But most of all, I suspect that I love it primarily because of what it says directly. Despite our outlandish expectations, our daydreams of grand gestures and epic stories (yes, I saw you just raise your eyebrow at me. Guilty as charged.), the best bits of loving and being loved are the everyday. The smile from a lover when you walk in the room, the gentle kiss from a grandparent, the feet-off-the-floor embrace with a deeply missed friend.
Life sent me a reminder to love the little moments this past weekend. I’m being generously hosted by a sweet friend her charming studio (oh yes, I said studio!) apartment in a historic Victorian mansion while I try to figure out what do with myself next. She has raved about the kindness of her landlords. Let’s call them Tom & Sue. They live across the hall and she’s told me how they are such givers and caretakers. She’s also told me they have jammin’ dance parties in their kitchen and can cook like the dickens.
To be honest, I was a little nervous to meet them for multiple reasons. Firstly, I’ve never really had a landlord that wasn’t either grumpy or distant, so I couldn’t believe there were actually nice ones out there. Secondly, I didn’t want my friend to have any fallout from my hobo self coming to take up a parking space and shake the floors during workouts because Jillian Michaels puts too many plankjacks on her damn DVDs.
So when I arrived and needed into the apartment before my friend got home from work, she called Sue and asked her to let me in. I hated to be an inconvenience, but that woman just bounced right up to me and gave me the kind of hug usually reserved for long unseen family at the holidays before happily turning over an extra key for me to use as long as needed. She insisted that my friend and I come over that weekend for a drink and to get to know each other.
We sauntered (there’d been some pre-drinking drinking) over to their flat on a Saturday night and were embraced multiple times before being plunked down at the dinner table. I’d barely gotten their names straight before they both looked me in the eyes and said,”So, tell us your story. Tell us everything.” WHO DOES THAT? Who just reaches out to this new stranger girl and wants to know her inside out? Most of the time, we tiptoe and retreat and equivocate through the journey of connecting with others, but Tom & Sue showed up in my life to teach me HOW TO JUMP.
We swapped stories for nearly two hours (during which, by the way, Tom had snuck to the kitchen to make us BACON WRAPPED SCALLOPS. Just because. I mean. If that’s not love…) and laughed and gasped and shouted. I even had to fight tears when they brought out pictures of their children and showed me their daughter’s first husband who had been killed in Iraq. I hadn’t yet known someone who’d lost an immediate family member to any of the wars in my lifetime, and it hit hard and fast. He was so young and handsome and suddenly I was on the other side with those who have viscerally felt the cost and waste of war and no longer with those who have only heard about it.
My friend and I had to be off to another gathering, but there was certainly no way we were leaving without a dance party. We threw on the Michael Jackson and four grown-ass adults jumped and wiggled and spun around that room like the little kids who invariably hit the dance floor at a wedding before the adults have had enough to drink. It was the most alive and happy I’d felt in a good long time. I was the “Dance like no one’s watching” quote come to life. Out of breath with a sweaty brow, I finally collapsed on the floor and belly laughed. All because I allowed these strangers just love me with no hesitation. They didn’t know who I’d been, where I’d come from, what’d I’d done before I walked in their door. They just knew I was there, I was a person, and that was reason enough. I’d had my own Heathrow moment right there in a kitchen in New York.
There’s more love around you, right now, right where you are, than you might imagine.