Today, I have decided to talk about love. Please, hold the awwws and sighs. This is a theoretical debate. Several times at work this week, conventional expressions of love – true love, marriage, sex – have been brought up and glorified as the only way to express love while less popular forms of love – love between siblings, friends or a community – have been rejected as not really love. In this post, I will expand on one instance. I propose to prove that love holds no bounds and that theories of its limitations are false.
My hypothesis: Love comes in many shapes and sizes (like fish! Though there is no correlation). Therefore, it is inaccurate to say love can only be expressed to one person. I believe love can form between different agents, such as between parents and children or friends. And love can be expressed to varying degrees, such as loving your community vs. your favorite pet.
I first started thinking of this topic when I was searching for inspiration for a tattoo. I was looking into quotes and stumbled upon a blog about literary tattoos. The author was asking for ideas of how to make an image of the following quote from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: “When I was your age, my grandfather bought me a ruby bracelet. It was too big for me and would slide up and down my arm. It was almost a necklace. He later told me that he had asked the jeweler to make it that way. Its size was supposed to be a symbol his love. More rubies, more love. But I could not wear it comfortably. I could not wear it at all. So here is the point of what I have been trying to say. If I were to give a bracelet to you, now, I would measure your wrist twice.”
I absolutely love, love, looooooove this quote. I read this book in high school (and highly recommend it), and I remembered this passage even 6 years after having read it. Why does this quote hit home with me? Well, to me, this is the exact definition of love. Caring for someone so much, that you would make sure your actions were only for them – measuring their wrist, not some else’s of similar build, not guessing, etc – to ensure that they know that you love them. Measuring a wrist not once but twice is a deliberate action. It suggests the need for accuracy, devotion and openness. This quote also speaks to me of honor. The grandfather in the quote thought he was showing his love, but he wouldn’t even honor his granddaughter with something that fit her and didn’t bother to change his gift when he saw it didn’t fit. Love, to me, is an open declaration/expression of honor, caring and devotion. So it came as a shock when I arrived at work and someone had an opposite idea of love.
“I have never said I love you to anyone before.” That statement, or something similar, made me pause when I teasingly asked a coworker if he loved anyone. I had to clarify. Was “anyone” anyone, or a romantic anyone? The answer, the former! If you haven’t guess already, I am very liberal with my love. My reaction to his statement was to turn to another coworker and give him a big hug and say I love you. Followed up with an explanation that true love is love that is true, and not necessarily limited to one individual. I explained that I had friends I loved very much and would tell them, even though and especially since, we were not romantically involved. My coworker then explained that even in his family, it wasn’t said often and so he didn’t feel it was necessary to say it.
Foer has another fitting quote to address my coworker: “I said, I want to tell you something. She said, you can tell me tomorrow. I had never told her how much I loved her. She was my sister. We slept in the same bed. There was never a right time to say it. It was always unnecessary….I thought about waking her. But it was unnecessary. There would be other nights. And how can you say I love you to someone you love? I rolled onto my side and fell asleep next to her….It’s always necessary. I love you.”
Even after 45 minutes of discussion, I am still not sure he is convinced. But what do you think? This thing called love, is it boundless or bounded? Should it be expressed? Should it be unspoken? What are your stories about love that have shaped how you see and understand it?
Google images and google search for the quotes.