The other night in the car, my girls and I were talking about friendship. I explained how I love my Best Friends for different reasons and in different ways. They asked for examples.
“Well, I love Ms. R. because she is fun and funny to be around; Ms. L#1 because I trust her like crazy; and Ms. L#2 because of all the special times we shared when she lived next door and since. Oh, and Ms. K because she’s always honest with me and gives the best advice!”
Talking about this topic gave me a rush of giddiness. Thankfully, I have groups of friends from several areas and times of my life. Besides the local besties I have lovingly described, I have my middle school/high school and college connections plus my coworkers, whom I see the most of any friends. I’m even spending this Valentine’s Day with a trio from the latter group. We’re going out for a five-course beer dinner. Cheers to all my Galentines!
However you feel about Valentine’s Day, you must admit it does get you thinking about love and what it looks like for you. Oh, and candy. How can you avoid noticing, craving, and scarfing down candy at this time of year?
This question brings me to the news of Conversation Hearts. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, they aren’t a thing this year. If you bought a bag, I hate to tell you they’re from last year’s batch. The company that makes them went out of business. Yes, sad. But word has it they will be back next year in full force, thanks to a new manufacturer.
In honor of Conversation Hearts – a favorite from my childhood – I have created my own make-believe handful of them to represent different types of love that I’ve either experienced myself or have witnessed closely. Picture with me for a few minutes these tiny chalky candies, imprinted with the sayings and in the signature colors I mention, as sweet symbols of the deepest emotion possible…
“YOU ROCK” – Pink: Friend Love
Reliable and strong and endlessly fun. I’ll start here since I spoke about this love above. Life is sweetened by these people in our lives. They know us best, yet still want to hang around with us. By the time we’re middle-aged, we’ve known many of them for decades. If we’re lucky, we’ve met and made newer ones in our adult lives more recently. That old Girl Scout tune tells us friends represent silver and gold, not sugar candy. If the song were true, imagine your friends as valuable metal coins, clanking around in your pockets, a treasure trove of support always within your reach. My heart feels the reassuring pull of full pockets, every day. #blessed
“YOU’RE MINE” – Orange: Family Love
Pure and true and natural. It’s the love that’s gifted to us from Day One. Yet even with a choice, I’d pick mine again and again. At two years old, my parents divorced so I grew up in two loving families, including a big brother and a little sister. Plus three stepsisters. As a young adult, I gained two more brothers and another sister through my marriage. My multiple siblings have spouses and kids of their own, which means I get to enjoy the fun-filled, no pressure role of “Auntie.” In this seat at the family table, it’s a blast to watch the newer parents growing and learning through the joys, rewards, challenges, and – yep, you guessed it – the boundless love they have with their beautiful children, my nieces and nephews.
Deepest in my heart, of course, will always be The Precious Pair, my daughters. Our bond amazes and surprises me daily with its strength, understanding, and grace. I can be my truest self, both my best and not my best, with these two lovely humans.
“YOU’RE COOL” – White: New Love
Fresh and crisp and squeaky clean. That’s New Love. When you start at square one with someone, there are so many unknowns, and that’s the electric energy that fuels it! I enjoy watching New Love in motion among the middle schoolers in my life. You can sense it from several rooms away, when a small group of teens huddles in your house. Contagious giggling, texting bells going off left and right — you can hear New Love more than the other types. And it’s chaotic, distracting, and exciting, no matter what age you are when you find it.
“ONLY YOU” – Yellow: Enduring Love
Grounded and trusting and becoming more rare. These are the couples who have been good, patient, and loyal to one another over the long term. They are the ones who inspire the rest of us. If I’m speaking of you, sit back and be recognized for your commitment. My dad and stepmom qualify in this prestigious category of endurance, celebrating 43 years of marriage in 2019. To all who identify with this type of love, congratulations on both your history and your future together.
“SOUL MATE” – Green: Rekindled Love
A lot like New Love while also familiar and comfortable. You may feel as if you’re home again, but in a mysterious space you don’t know yet. It’s a fondness that lives on from another chapter in your life. Somehow things didn’t come together the first time around; most likely due to bad timing. Then Destiny will do something ridiculous and bring it right back to you. It’s Life’s Best Class Reunion, with only two of you there. It’s a dormant sprout in your heart that explodes into a patch of wildflowers overnight. Unruly and unexpected, yet as the seasons intended.
My mom and stepdad were high school sweethearts who married when I was ten (and are still married 35 years later!), so they reunited long before social media. Today, it’s the Facebook re-connections we all hear about. They are special stories, for sure.
“BFF” – Blue: Self Love
It’s the hardest kind to achieve, yet essential to all the other types. There are many ways to show care and respect for yourself. It could be changing your circumstances or forgiving yourself for mistakes or simply doing more of what makes you happy. For me recently, it’s massages, pedicures, facials, naps, reading, lots of music, road trips, time with friends and family, and this blog project. If you’re not feeling love for yourself, then focus on finding it. Don’t quit until you find it. Take a few cues from Friend Love. And if you need a boost in the right direction, think about the final type of candy in my dish…
“FOREVER” – Purple: God’s Love
It’s by far the most personal type of love and impossible for me to define. I don’t know how you will see it, hear it, or feel it. I don’t always recognize it for myself, and I don’t pause to honor it often enough. Yet I do know this Love reigns.
To leave you with a love-induced laugh, I’ll tell you about last Sunday when the oldest daughter and I were sitting on the couch, listening to music. As Stevie Wonder serenaded us, she sparked a conversation I’ll never forget about the phrase “from the bottom of your heart.”
“Why do we say that anyway? I mean, isn’t it crusty down there, like you’re scraping the bottom of a dish? I’m going to start saying ‘from the top of my heart’ – it’s fresh up there.”
I only wish I could claim that material as my own!
I hope you all are feeling much love in your lives right now, across the candy heart spectrum. Whatever you do, be sure to speak your love often to your sources, right from the top of your heart and not only when the calendar tells you it’s time.