The best time to talk to someone is in the car. It’s sort of quiet and the passing scenery takes on a meditative quality and, well, basically you’re trapped. No one is going anywhere so you might as well talk. I knew I had to write this article on our theme of love and I was driving with my teenage son and so I ask him,
“What do you think love is?”
Always the kind soul his reply, “Wow, Mom that’s a really good question… I’ll need to think about that and get back to you” didn’t surprise me. But, as I said, he couldn’t leave the car since I was moving along Oxnard Street, so I press on, “No, really. What’s love?”
He gives me that look- that look that says – don’t you have someone else you can do this with? I look back – that look that says – can’t you squeeze out a few words to help your mom?
He pauses. Then he does what my son does best, he opens his heart and mind – “It’s an enhancer. Love enhances life. It makes everything better. When you share something with someone you love, it is more… wonderful. Even simple things become more fun or more meaningful.”
“That’s so true. Thank you for that. That’s great.” I think about Jean’s impression of John Mulvaney doing Mick Jagger and my husband laughing in the kitchen ( I don’t even remember what we were laughing at) and my daughter showing me her latest drawing.
He knows me well enough to know we’re not done. So when I continue, he smiles.
“OK… so… what if you are not with someone? Can love still be present? I guess I’m asking about self love? Does that enhance?”
He thinks. “Huh. Yes. I think so…
… when I feel good about myself, I do feel a difference in the world.”
“Me too.” I think about the times that small things have made me feel such intense happiness – like the green of leaves against the blue sky and that first stretch when you wake up on a lazy Sunday morning and good NY pizza. I try to remember whether I felt good about myself too at those moments. I conclude that I must have.
I tell him, “I remember thinking the other day whether love and gratitude might be the same thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m not sure. I was thinking that I am grateful for so much. Does that mean that I love all those things? I can’t think of something I am grateful for that I don’t love.” Writing this I think that is true. In hindsight, even the rough times I am thankful for and part of me loves those times now – for how I moved through them or for the graciousness of others during them or for the strength and revelations they allowed.
“I think that might be true, Mom. I never thought of that.”
We catch a glimpse of the snow covered mountains in the distance. They are a distinct soft pink cantaloupe color in the sunset, looking like cotton candy covered peaks. I look at my son. I know he is right, love enhances.
By ALISON MARTIN
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.
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