Thoughts on Love

Thoughts on Love



Speaking of love, I met Anne Lamott once, and by “met,” I mean fangirled. She may have been accosted at her speaking event in Corta Madera, CA.

Today is publication day for her new book, Somehow: Thoughts on Love. I rapid-fire downloaded the Kindle and Audible versions this morning so that I can both read and hear the love from my love. One way in or another, I figure. Suited up and bundled in several thermal layers + my Shokz headphones underneath my Gore-Tex rain cap underneath my helmet underneath a dramatic—potentially threatening—sky, I pedaled toward the downtown Portland Riverfront Trail and listened to My Annie. (I can call her Annie now since Corte Madera. We’ll always have Corte Madera.) Respectfully, she’s talking about some of her heartrending experiences engaging with people living on the street, people to whom I think she would refer as her brothers and sisters: Family. People just like us. My audio is now in sync with my visual as I too pass person after person trying to make do with living on unforgiving concrete. Last week, on another frigid, wind-whippy day, I happened to look below the bridge I was traveling and saw a young woman next to a filled-to-capacity stroller. I wasn’t sure if it was filled with a child or her belongings, maybe both. Below and alone on her haunches, she was coaxing a small fire. Above, my heart sank.

She needs to be warm as much as I need all forty of my layers.

We all see unhoused people, they’re part of our landscape. But the man I saw a couple of weeks ago in Seattle has, I think, left a deep, forever mark. John and I were walking up to the entrance of a Target when we got wind of a putrid, unidentifiable rank. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything worse and I had no clue of its origin until we got a little closer. Standing a few feet in front of the door was a hooded figure (possibly covered in a blanket) in all black, with his back to us. His posture was odd—slightly hunched, head angled a little down—rigid, he was completely motionless—a statue. As we passed him, I was curious/concerned and glanced back. We made eye contact. If I’m honest, I was sorry I had. His eyes bored into me and I wish I had a better phrase than saying I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but that’s what it was. He scared the hell out of me.

It was dark.

John and I teared up when we discussed it a moment later. My tender-hearted husband said, “That’s a human being in there.”

I don’t mention this to shame this stranger or elevate myself. So what’s my point?

How did it get this bad? How did he get so lost? Can we get him back?

What happened? Or what didn’t happen? Did he have love?

That woman down below, can we get her back up on the bridge?

Can we be a bridge?

A little later today as I headed home on my bike, I legit felt threatened by someone under the influence of drugs, tragic mental health, an internal demon, maybe all of it. Passing him on my bike, he lunged at me while screaming at me. I was going fast enough that he didn’t physically make contact.

We all have our demons. They might be hidden and less terrifying and fetid than others.

I still have several chapters left of Annie’s book. But what I have listened to so far tells me this:

I need contact, I need to meet eyes, I need to love.

I need to let myself be loved.

Even when I am afraid, maybe especially when I’m afraid.

On love, Annie writes, “Our lives’ toughest work is in the receiving.”

Go read it for yourself in “Overture,” Annie’s sample pages available on Amazon. She’ll say it way better than I can.