Sometimes I see couples walking down the street and notice they're holding hands, or little fingers, or arm in arm, with arms encircling each other like yokes around hard-working oxes necks. These small demonstrations, where two bodies touch at the sides somehow indicate to the outside observer that these two humans are 'in love' or 'in like' or 'in a relationship' or 'in something', depending on the stage of their being together. Or the moment. Some people you see are clearly meant for each other. Their mismatched clothes echo the others, the hats they wear, although one might be crocheted and the other knitted, speak to one another and may have, one day, been a part of the same sheep before the wool was combed and coloured and wound into long yarns which now invisibly tie these two people together. Or one listens so intently to the other that all buses, people, clicking boots, birds, dump trucks, cars, rustling newspapers, cups on saucers, spoons ticking, water running are outside them, beyond their ability to care because they are so focused on the other.
Then there are the others: the others who are demonstrating 'love' and being 'in love'. The ones who walk beside the other hand-in-hand, arm in arm, in a vague attempt to appear 'in like' or 'in love' or 'in something'. I can attest to this myself. In the past whilst holding hands, I have found myself wondering what I look like to people on the street, in the shop, in the cafe and wonder if I look like I am sufficiently 'in something' with that person. When this realisation hits me like a pile of bricks I recoil from the idea of love within myself and coil myself away from the situation and realise that I'm 'in nothing' and while I may be demonstrably 'in something', in fact, there will be no love lost on the outside observer and they will have seen me for the 'in fraud' I am. So I recoil from the person I'm holding hands with so as not to confuse their notion of being 'in love' (I'm considerate, yes?). But then again, I've found in these instances that the other individual is too wound up in themselves that there was no chance of us being reciprocally 'in anything' anyway. And so I trudge away at the end of the relationship, and while I don't look like I'm 'in anything' at least I look like myself who has found herself out of love but still 'in hope'.
So what does love look like? I am a very lucky Molly to have some very lovely people in my life who are very in love. Well, at least they look like they are very in love and I base the following statements on them, so if they aren't 'in anything' and I've read it all wrong, then I'll have to re-write this post. These people I know are people that have been together a long while but still get excited to the see their squeeze. Their shoulders go back, their eyes sparkle, their heads tilt in anticipation and when the object of their desire enters the room you can see that then, just for a moment, its them and no one else. Time suspends and their held within each others eyes: in love. And so when you look at them, you wonder if both of them have accidentally stepped on tacks and hold that frozen position in some vain hope that they didn't have the misfortune of stepping so blithely on a sharp object before recoiling due to the pain in their feet. But no, they unfreeze and time starts again and they bask in each other's presence. And life goes on. And they're in love. And to the onlooker, the warmth from both seems to emanate out and warm the dark cockles of my heart.
Love has nothing to do with clothes, or looks, or jobs, or past-times, or haircuts, or favourite meals, or knowledge of languages, or books read, or mountains scaled, or the number of songs you can sing from memory. Love is about the wave of warmth that washes over you, that holds you tight, but lets you breathe freely; a cool spring morning, warm under the blankets and the sun streaming in. Yes, my dears, love is about everything that makes life and twines yourself inexplicably towards someone else.