Back when bookstores were common, before online sellers began to take over the world like big-box stores, I stumbled across a bin of books turned spine up at my local bookseller. Either a graduate student, or fresh out of school, I was drawn to the discounted hardback books. The jacket of this particular copy was scuffed. Otherwise, it was perfection. With the pages cut with that texture of a classic, forever to be treasured. The title, “True Love,” caught my eye. Then, I saw the author’s name, Robert Fulghum, and decided it must go home with me.
Kind Reader, you likely recognize the author’s name from “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” If you do not, you should hasten a path to your local library and search for a copy. Both — nay, all — of his writings are deep treasures. I have read them over and over and discover fresh, simple beauty each time.
Reflecting on lessons I learned in “True Love,” I went in search of my copy, which I have evidently loaned to someone I love. Two quotes stand out in my memory. Here is the first: “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.”
This is true not only of romantic partners but also for true friends who truly “get” one another in their mutual weirdness. It is true of a stranger on a corner with whom one connects for a few brief moments. Love — true love — can be discovered in the weirdest of instances.
A few years ago, I began a practice of list-keeping signs of “true love” I witness in my life. Here are a few over the course of the last decade:
• Sharing flowers from one’s garden with a lonely person that she may, too, enjoy a bit of beauty.
• Making many batches of cupcakes, trying to get them just right prior to a wedding party.
• Massaging your spouse’s feet even though you do not like feet.
• Taking the baby to another room so at least someone gets a few hours of rest.
• Making mad dashes for bags of cough drops for the sick grown-up so a baby will sleep.
• Sheltering a friend whose adult children have been committing financial abuse against her.
• Working on home and garden projects in July heat on one’s aching knees with knee pads.
• Staying up well past bedtime to take a 4 year-old to her first fireworks.
• Arranging to have a broken windshield repaired on a day off.
• Allowing your kids to move many miles and hours away so they can spread their wings and learn.
• Doing a walk-through of a new home with a family member to ensure all is well.
• Taking meaningful photos to record family gatherings because time and memories are precious.
• Bringing home raspberries because you know your beloved enjoys them.
• Playing endless rounds of “Little Pig, Little Pig, Let Me In!”
Fulghum writes: “Love is the grand prize and the garbage heap. Love is a spiritual root canal and the only thing that makes life worth living. Love is a little taste of always and a big bite of nothing. And love is everything between these extremes.”
What have you learned about true love?