Things I've Learned What Does Your Love Look Like? Molly Franken

A long time ago, I was introduced to the story of The Lovings. It’s a love story, so their last name couldn’t be more fitting. They were a couple like any other, a man named Richard and a woman named Mildred who wanted to spend the rest of their waking days together. They wanted to raise a family and live peacefully together in their home state of Virginia. So they did what any couple in love does and recited their vows to form a legal and loving union. And it all was lovely and as it should be, except the year was 1958, Richard was white, Mildred was black and in their home state of Virginia, interracial marriage was illegal.

Many of you have not heard of Loving v. Virginia, and the fight one couple battled so they could remain in a blessed and legal union in a place they both resided. In fact, they had traveled to Washington DC just to get married and, upon returning home, were arrested for living together and convicted and sentenced to one year in prison. This sentence was suspended only under the condition – that neither could return to their home state of Virginia for 25 years.

I know some of you may be thinking, ‘What was Virginia thinking? How could they possibly enforce such a law?’. But the simple fact is that similar laws were in place in more than half of our 50 states throughout the 1950s and remained intact in 16 states (16 states!) in our country up until the year 1967. Until that year, marrying a person ‘of color’ was illegal. It was the case of Loving v. Virginia that finally overturned this law. 1967. That is less than 50 years ago. Less than 50 years ago, we were preventing human beings from marrying and ARRESTING them because of their love for one another.

I know this all sounds familiar in a very apparent parallel today. We have the same battle of people loving each other and wanting to commit their lives to each other while being told they cannot do so.  The repercussions are different, but the idea is similar. Whether you agree or disagree on this current issue is not for me to judge or say, but it did get me thinking.

What does love look like? I know this may seem a silly question, but clearly we, as a people, have a history of basing opinions off of what love looks like. So, what does love LOOK like? You may argue it doesn’t look like anything; it’s a feeling, an emotion. But I don’t believe that to be fully true. So I’m posing this question: What does love look like to you?

Is it a sound? A color? A voice? A thought? An action? Is it in the entwined hands of an elderly couple on a park bench? Is it the dropping of change into a homeless person’s cup? Is it taking a sick friend to chemotherapy? Is it a phone call to say ‘I’m thinking about you’?  Is it the sound of your baby breathing in his or her crib? Is it the wagging of your dog’s tail? Is it anger towards a family member (because you wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t care)? Is it the will to live? Is it two men adopting their first child together? Is it best friends up all night giggling? Is it the ability to accept ourselves with all of our imperfections? Is it in your words? Is it in your hugs? Is it in a listening ear?

So think about it. I’d love to know. What does love look like to you? And while you’re at it, what do you hope your love looks like to others?

Image via astrologyandkarma.com

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  2. Love has always been sort of a tricky topic for me, but I think lately I’ve gotten a much better view of what it is for me.
    To me, love is being able to trust someone utterly and completely. Love is being a best friend, even when things get hard and you can’t stand it anymore. Love is a mysterious being that hides in the earth and waits for the perfect moment. Love is the look in the eye of a partner, a friend, a family member, that tell yous they care and that you’re important. It makes you feel special, even when it feels like you’re carrying the entire world on your shoulders. Love is the person who finally reaches out to you when you’re falling apart and need help to pull everything back together. Love is the teacher who puts extra time and effort into ensuring her/his students really learn something, who shares their wisdom and their experiences in hopes that it’ll make life better for those who listen. Love is also the person who sits by your side and tells you everything’s going to be okay when you know everything’s falling apart, and who sits and listens when you need to talk. Love is not a single entity, it does not have one definition or “look” to it. It’s there when you need in and in the people who have found it in someone else.

  3. I’ll definitely have to check out this documentary. Great piece, Cheerio. I like to think that to others, my love is genuine – it looks like understanding, trust, fun, patience and kindness. Across the board.

  4. Its ironic you used that story, because when prop 8 was going on I actually used this example for my coworker (who is black also) and it really got him to thinking and changed his whole perspective on it. Not enough to entirely agree with but to finally understand it and see the struggle. That was all I wanted, not for him to completely change his mind just to understand a bit more. As for your question, I think love looks like random acts of kindness. About 5 years ago a homeless man approached me with my friends and gave all the girls flowers that he usually tries to sell for money. Granted they were taken illegally, it was still way of making a living and he just wanted us to have them and to have a great night. That truly touched my heart. As for my love, I hope people see the fact that I give second chances, because I do believe everyone is going through their own battles and we all have our sets of issues and it takes time to get to know someone. I hope people see my kindness because everyone deserves love no matter what.

  5. Love looks to me like a magical, free and strange thing that one day will happen to me, hopefully since I dreamed about it so much, but gotten so miniscule snippets of it, it is an elitist choice only available for a few to take and those who have it are very lucky :)!!!

  6. Love, to me, looks like my grandparents’ faces.

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  8. Beautiful piece.

  9. Fantastic piece Miss M!

  10. Love for me is everywhere–in colors, body language, slight moments that most people don’t ever notice. It’s in the slight curvature of someone’s shoulders, the glittering of a hopeful eye, a squeeze of the hand from a friend. Thanks for a great article–a few years ago, my family was at the MLK Jr Center in Atlanta and talking about how 50 years ago, our family would have been been nonexistent (my dad is black, my mom white). The idea of this is absolutely heartbreaking to me, but it reminds how amazing my family is. It also reinforces the need for me to put love and energy into making sure all families get to be amazing…no matter what they “look” like. :)

  11. If you want to learn more about The Lovings, HBO is airing a documentary, The Loving Story. Check your local listings.

    Molly Franken | 2/15/2012 09:02 am
  12. Love to me is mostly sounds. A song that reminds me of that special moment. Hearing the car pull up in the driveway, which means that my boyfriend is back from work. My mom singing. My cat meowing. My phone ringing.

  13. these are rigths we have just because we are humans! I loved your article!

  14. I was actually thinking about what loves means and looks like to me yesterday, and I wrote a bit about it in my blog. Anyways, this is what love means to me:

    “When I think of love, I don’t imagine grand gestures and diamond rings. I picture someone that I would like to come home to, cuddle into on the couch, and share my day with. I picture laughter, competitive arguments, make-up kisses, and moments of silence where it doesn’t become awkward. I picture holding hands and being content.”