“Do you believe in ‘One True Love’ Mama?” my daughter Arayla (14.5) asked, just as I was sitting down to join them for dinner. My son Ezra (almost 11) was still lighting the candles.
I pulled my chair in, unfolded my napkin onto my lap and offered my hands out to each of my children, to pause for a moment in giving thanks. After we said thank you, and Ezra asked if someone could please pass the kale salad, Arayla persisted, “So Mom, do you?”
I looked into her eyes to see what kind of answer she was looking for. “Are you asking if I believe there is one person in the world who is our true beloved?” I asked.
She nodded playfully with glistening eyes. She was testing me. I felt into it for a moment, and then answered with certainty: “Yes, yes I do.”
My daughter’s eyes widened with surprise. She gasped, “You do?”
I served myself a heaping plateful of salad as I affirmed: “Yes. I believe YOU are your ‘One True Love’. Life itself, love itself, as me and as you, is our One True Love. And all the different people and creatures we get to love and learn from along the way, even the really challenging ones, are all aspects of our One True Love. I am my One True Love. And you guys are definitely my One True Love, too!”
The kids looked at each other, conspicuously nudged each other under the table, rolled their eyes a little, and chuckled. Ezra commented fondly, “That answer was sooo YOU, Mom.”
I winked at him, “Oh yeah? Consistent and predictable?”
Arayla snorted as she said, “Yep.” She had brought some nori seaweed sheets to the table and began messily making herself a nori wrap with the salad, avocado and rice. For a moment I considered micro-managing her messy creation, and then held my tongue and took a deep breath instead.
The conversation easily shifted into shares from the day.
Arayla had joyous horse tales from her barn to relay; bareback riding and deepening trust.
Ezra shared how his beloved teacher had said to their class, “Now that you’re in fifth grade, you’ll probably notice your bodies are starting to change. And you may even begin to have new feelings towards one another.”
Ezra admitted blushingly, “It was a little cringey.” Then he confessed that privately he had been thinking, “Um… actually? We’ve been having ‘feelings’ for one another since at least third grade. Maybe even Kindergarten?” We all giggled in agreement.
Arayla and I dove into a side conversation about a friend of hers she had run into downtown.
When I brought my attention back to Ezra I noticed he was just sitting there, not touching his food, kind of spacing out. “What are you thinking about, Love?” I asked him.
His eyes came back into focus and he looked at me, quietly. “Not thinking,” he answered casually. “Just feeling.” He picked up his fork and took another bite of food.
Curious, I prodded, “Care to share what you’re feeling?”
Ezra shrugged, and replied, “Just life.”
I asked, “You’re just feeling life? What about life?”
Ezra said, “Just life, Mom. You know—existence? Like—all of it. Like what connects all beings—everything, everywhere? This. Here. Now— Life. ”
Arayla smiled affectionately at her little brother, and said, “Yeah Mom. He’s just feeling Life.”
Right— Life. What else is there to feel? Duh.
A few minutes later when I noticed Ezra was struggling to make a nori roll, I offered to help. When I got to the end part, where you have to seal the deal and stick the nori to itself, I must have gotten some inner wires crossed, because absent-mindedly I started licking the edge, just like you would when rolling a joint, or a hand-rolled tobacco…(neither of which I’m in the habit of doing, mind you.)
It wasn’t until I looked up and found Ezra staring at me incredulously, as I licked his nori roll shut, that I suddenly realized I had mixed up different kinds of rolls and correct moments for tongue involvement!
We all laughed really hard, and Ezra feigned disgust as he gingerly took the perfectly licked nori joint from me, saying, “Wow Mom, thanks. This is so special.” 😉
These funny little failures are sometimes the best part of all.
After we had finished eating, I pushed myself up from the table and grabbed some dishes to clear as I went. “Can you guys please clean the kitchen tonight? I’m taking Freya for a walk.” They both said “Ok” and immediately began negotiating who would have which jobs.
I walked out into the newly crisp autumn air, pulled my hood over my head, zipped up my vest, and started up our driveway. I could still faintly hear the kids voices, squabbling about their chores from inside the house. Sounds of my dear life; my little family, my home, my love.
I took long strides up into the dark open evening of our neighborhood. Freya happily sniffed the grasses and bushes, and I urged her along, wishing to move my body.
I noticed our half-moon then, peering out from behind some clouds: solid, clean and clear. And stars—so endless and exquisitely understated. I imagined all the sweet neighborly trees, kindly nodding their leafy heads towards me in the dark as I passed.
This delicious and seamless co-mingling of life. This sacred substance of air meeting this sacred substance of lungs. “Just life,” my boy had said.
As I listened to the sound of my boots meeting the street, I reveled in the contagiousness of truth. How we pass it along, back and forth, like a holy air-borne virus that gathers strength and power in the sharing.
I bowed inwardly then to my One True Love. I blew a passionate kiss from Life to Life.
Then I stopped completely, already home, and let nothing else be needed.