Love

old-people-holding-hands-e1319211968491A few months ago I was walking home from work along a side street of Manhattan. Casually strolling towards me was a distinguished man and woman who looked to be in their mid-seventies.

They were holding hands. I was holding my cell phone.

They were quietly talking to each other through matching warm smiles. I was not-so quietly yelling at my husband through the receiver.

The casual pace with which this couple strolled suggested they had not a care in the world. I, on the other hand, was feeling burdened by every care in the world as I ranted into the phone about whatever debacle had occurred in my life that day.

As the couple drew closer, gradually closing the gap between us, the path became too narrow to accommodate all three of us, and soon we were entangled in that awkward step-to-this-side-step-to-that-side dance New Yorkers get stuck in when trying to politely share a confined space. Toning down my fury long enough to acknowledge present circumstances, I shimmied to the right to give the pleasant couple room to pass. They simultaneously stepped to the same side, indicating I should pass. I waved them on with insistence, as if to say, You seem happy. I’m miserable. Please, go first. The kindly couple, however, remained fixed in place, more than happy to give me first passage. I nodded appreciatively, eager to resume my ranting to my husband on the phone, and moved forward.

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emily_fox.jpgCongratulations, you’re pregnant – and for the first time since you were eight, you can eat whatever you want! Because you’re with child and therefore eating for two! And you are supposed to be a little insane from the hormones! So when you decide you must have half a jar of peanut butter for a snack, you only have to shrug helplessly and say, “I can’t help it – the baby loves peanut butter!” as though the kid were tapping out some kind of Morse Code on the inside of your belly.

juliet_scott_sm.jpg
 Juliet Maeve Scott,
December 28th, 2007
6 lbs 2

Everyone smiles indulgently at you and touches you kind of inappropriately on your belly area and tells you what a blessing the whole thing is and you agree because it is indeed nothing short of a blessing to be able to order rice pudding after lunch with no pangs of guilt whatsoever.

Sure, you can’t have sushi, but there are so many other perks: cookies and pizza and macaroni and cheese (for the calcium, of course) and real soda and cupcakes, glorious cupcakes, which you can even have for breakfast if you want and nobody bats an eyelash. I was thrilled for many reasons to learn I was pregnant, but I cannot deny that chief among them was the Get Out of Jail Free card that I’d been looking for my whole adult life.

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poms_sm.jpg My mother had a way of inventing traditions.  “It’s Lizzie’s birthday!” she’d proclaim periodically and everyone in the family would don a party hat and sing happy birthday to one of our English Springer Spaniels.  The announcement of the dog’s birth and subsequent celebration of it could occur at any time – on April 5, say, or December 12.  It could happen twice a year or once every few years.  But however haphazard, it became a tradition. 

Every so often, we’d gather in the living room; my father on the bongo drums someone had given him for a birthday present, my sister on her recorder, me banging the big copper-bottomed soup pot with a wooden spoon, and my mother on piano, playing from our “American Folk Songs For Piano” songbook.  “Love oh love oh careless love,” she’d sing, entirely off-key, “Love oh love oh careless love, love oh love oh careless love, see what love has done to me.”

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ImageI always know the exact moment love officially strikes me clear and hard. The world actually goes silent. I can’t help but smile. My eyes light up. And most importantly, I shut up. Because in that very moment, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, I’m rendered speechless since there’s only one truth: I’m alive and I love you and I know it and that’s all there is to it.

I fell in love last year. It’s pretty hard to shut me up but then again, I think almost everyone would become as smitten as me around this man. You know those people that make you feel like the very best version of yourself? Now imagine that person but also make them an incredible cook, a fantastic writer, a brilliant designer, a true gentleman, and too handsome for anyone’s own good in a George Clooney type of way. This isn’t a romance I’m talking about. It’s even better. When you’re having a really bad day or you’ve just returned from a long out of town trip, he’ll cook an amazing dinner for you and make you coffee and talk to you about books and art. When you’re heartbroken and nothing seems to make sense, he’ll bring dark chocolate gourmet pudding and hugs to your door and make you laugh till you cry better tears. This isn’t a joke. This is the universe showing off when it introduced me to one of my best friends. I wish everyone had their own Oualid. But fortunately and unfortunately, there’s only one of this man.

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bentley.jpgTwo years ago I fell madly in love with a fella named Bentley. His piercing emerald green eyes and perfect shade of thick brown hair melted my heart those first few moments we met. He makes me laugh everyday, loves to travel, swim in the ocean with me and he'll go anywhere on a whim. My perfect day is to stay home, lying on the sofa with him, cooking him three perfect meals a day. We share a  pillow at night and sometimes I find myself staring at him while he  sleeps.

Nothing and no one has ever halted my love to travel as much as  him. I find myself completely homesick when I leave him. When I packed my bags to go to Juneau, Alaska last week I promised him I would bring home as many salmon treats that would fit in my bag.  But until the airlines come up with a new rule that dogs can sit in a passenger seat, Bentley will have to be left behind at the farm with my Mother.

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