The only thing I want to write about today is love.
Lu has fallen in love with Beauty and the Beast lately. We showed her the movie for the first time last week and she has been pretending to be Belle since. At least once a day, she puts on the pink princess dress we found at the thrift store for 50 cents, grabs my childhood copy of volume 11 of the Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedia, and walks back and forth on the porch, talking out a story. Just like Belle, she turns to the imaginary Gaston, the vain and vapid man who is traditionally beautiful, tells him to go away because he’s not right for her, and turns on her heel to walk away.
Yesterday, she said to me, “Mama, I am spunky. And I am weird.” (We talked a lot the other day about how the villagers think Belle is weird because she likes to read and dreams of another life than the one planned out for her.) And I told her, “My love, that’s great. And true.”
This morning, as we were driving her to her day camp, she said to me, “Mama, why does Belle love the beast?” (Think what you want about Disney movies but watching this movie has sparked a barrage of fascinating and important questions in our kid.) I thought for a moment, and then I said, “Well, he’s kind to her, after he changes. He needs some time to soften but then he learns how to love by loving her. He builds her a library. She likes that.” Lu nodded at that. Like me, she loves the scene in the huge, endless library. “And she seems to know he needs someone to love him. He does a lot of kind acts for her. That’s why she loves him.”
Lu nodded, then she said, “Is that what love is? A lot of kind acts?”
I nodded, gulping back the tears. Yes, my love. It is.
Our kiddo? It’s pretty clear that she loves boys. She loves all people but her eyes light up when a bright-eyed boy walks by. Even when she was three months old, her eyes followed the sight of a male waiter walking by us in a restaurant. When she was a little baby, we used to talk to her all the time. (Man, you just talk all the time when they’re newborns.) Danny and I both remember saying to her, when she was six weeks old and the love we had for her already threatened to burst open our chests: “Sweet pea, whoever you fall in love with, boy or girl, we don’t care. As long as you love fully and that person loves you back fully, we don’t care who it is. We want love for you.”
We want love for her. And today, love won.
I’m often puzzled by how people divide food into little separate camps. I’m on the Paleo diet. I’m a vegetarian. I only eat local food. I eat only organic. I’m grain-free. I don’t eat dairy. And some of us use these labels as a way to hate the ways of other people who eat differently than we do, fighting the way that others eat. I love food. I love all food, even the foods I don’t eat. I have a choice. I have a chance to choose the food I eat. Sometimes I love pork cracklings and sometimes I love asparagus salad and sometimes I love dates drizzled with honey and sometimes I love fried eggs and sometimes I love half a ripe avocado with sea salt and sometimes I love roasted cauliflower and sometimes I love cucumbers with fish oil cilantro fresh basil and lime. (Thank you, David Tanis, for the inspiration for that dinner.) The only thing that matters to me is that all this food, this food I love, the love we share for good food, is what gathers us all to the table.
That’s what I hope for Lucy. I want her to live in a land where everyone is invited to the table.
Today was a damned fine start.
Thank you to Macklemore for this song and the inspiration to write this post.