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 sighs.

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.”

I smile.

“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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