Have you seen La La Land yet? After church last Sunday, post lunch date with a friend, I strolled toward the Fine Arts Theater in downtown Asheville. Kismet that the next showing started in just a few minutes, so I bought myself a ticket. Then, this Sunday, I went again to church… and then back downtown to the Fine Arts Theater where I watched the movie for a second time. It’s one of those movies. Or I’m one of those movie-goers. I’m definitely one of those movie-goers. I saw Blue Crush almost every single week it was in theaters because I was obsessed with the idea of living at the beach and being a surfer girl. (Never happened, by the way.) Not that I’m obsessed with the idea of being Mia (Emma Stone) or even falling in love with a Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)… although… I mean… if there’s a jazz loving, singing, dancing, handsome pianist who wears a vintage watch and encourages me to follow my dreams out there… I certainly wouldn’t sneeze at a date with him.
My very favorite part of La La Land is this (spoiler alert): in the end, they don’t end up together but they helped each other along toward their best selves and digested the bit of sadness that sometimes comes with that. We fall truly in love with people and are shaped and changed by them regardless of whether we wind up living with them til death do us part. Duh… I know. BUT… so many times (if we’re lucky) we love someone, are shaped by the relationship, and then when it’s over that person’s name becomes a dirty word not to ever be uttered by anyone. Ever. Not ever. At all. Or, you get over it, painstakingly. You appreciate it. You cherish it for the gifts it gave and you compassionately extend grace for the needs they just couldn’t meet, and they lovingly do the same for you. They weren’t the be all, end all… but they informed you about things and thoughts and feelings you had that you maybe didn’t realize before. Maybe they fulfilled certain goals or dreams you had… made you a wife or a husband, or maybe they even made you a parent. No matter what you are left with when it’s over, the experience surely served you in a magnificent way. The best thing we can do as lovers who love is be grateful.
Love – at least my love – never goes away. I still think fondly of my middle school boyfriend and get the warm fuzzies when I see his parents back home. (They live down the street from my mom and still get pretty happy to see me, too.) At this point of 31 going on 32, I have a couple of married ex-boyfriends and it makes me happy to see them happy. The same as it has made me sad to see one or two of them heartbroken over the years. When I think of my ex-husband I reflect with grace on our young relationship… and I think of him now, with his fiance and their son, and know that his heart is full because he’s a father and know that he loves his fiance in an even bigger way than he loved me. How wonderful is that? That’s the best part about love. Your bar gets raised with each relationship. Each love is bigger than the last because with each ending your capacity gets fuller and bigger than it has been. And the most amazing thing is that with each experience your life grants you, you grow and expand in other ways too… and your capacity for experience and love becomes even greater. A movie that moves you, a loss that leaves a void, a hope you hold onto. So, when I meet someone who moves me, after loving, losing, being satisfied as is… it’s like leveling up. Having gratitude for all the love in my life thus far has paved the way for a grateful place that will welcome in whatever comes next. I see it echoed in my life, and the lives of my loving friends around me, and in the life of my mother who raised me this way. Love never goes away. It roots itself in you and grows and withers and find a way to thrive again in that same original soil. It’s our gift, our resilient nature. And it’s our gift, as well, to digest the sadness that counters love, and to make something brilliant of that, too. If I ever loved you, then I always will. Always & always.