Love Is.

By: Jen Shoop

While visiting my sister in New York last week, she lamented (in her Nora Ephron manner), “No one ever makes me a salad. A salad is the ultimate gesture of love.” I knew what she meant, even as I sat idly by watching her prepare a salad for lunch: a salad requires multiple tedious, separate preparations of individual vegetables; a semi-mathematical or at least strategic procurement or curation of complementary ingredients; the taste-and-see mixing of oils and vinegars for dressing; tossing; plating. And clean-up is never simple. There are scraps of vegetables, cutting boards, tongs, oily countertops, a salad spinner, nubs of Romaine. A peanut butter sandwich it is not.

Love is also letting someone pick the first ice cream flavor.

Love is attention.

Love is leaving the light on — or, in my case, remembering to switch it off. Likely following my wanton ways, our children routinely neglect to turn off the light in the top floor play area, and, every night, Mr. Magpie trudges up there to complete the final chore bookending his day. One night, I popped up there and flipped it off before he’d ascended. He noticed immediately and — I kid you not — told me that it was the most romantic thing I’d ever done for him.

Love bears all things.

I wrote yesterday that a true apology asks for nothing — and neither does love. It exists blind to the concepts of obligation, demand, greed.

Love is listening.

Love is being there. And not often in a dramatic way. I mean that love is often a quiet presence that builds up over time: the grandparent at every baseball game, the sister who always answers her phone, the friends who gather in pews at a family funeral, the neighbor who springily drops by the cup of sugar you lack or the box of puzzles you need while you are enduring 20 days of quarantine or the folding chairs for your party, the parents who write letters to you while you study abroad and then fly across the globe to visit you while there and, later, to listen to you read a very boring, poorly delivered academic paper on James Joyce. (Ahem.)

Love receives. It nods its head, it embraces, it accepts.

Love is worrying not so much about The Thing, but the way The Thing will impact its object. By this I mean, two weeks ago, my parents endured a stressful home ownership issue involving a leak in the first floor of their house. On the phone, my mother was dismissive of the issue itself, instead informing me, testily: “Dad does not need this right now.” That is, she was unperturbed by the issue, but furious that the issue had caused my father any frustration.

My point is this: I looked across the island at my sister as she diced tomatoes into cute quarters, going about her business with a kind of bristling perfunctoriness, drying her hands on the dish towel, swinging open the refrigerator door, whisking the dressing, and I thought my heart would explode. I realized that perhaps I have on occasion overlooked love because it was dressed like salad. (Or a switched-off light, or a testy response to a burst pipe, or or or into infinity.)

Cheers to love.

*Written as I head into my other sister’s deferred-twice-because-of-COVID wedding weekend in Boston! **I owe my sister a salad.

Post Scripts.

+On siblinghood.

+There’s always a light on for your siblings.

+On the difference between a background in the humanities and STEM.

Shopping Break.

+Aren’t these slides amazing?! (They are basically MEANT to be worn with CeliaB. JOY!)

+Only a few left, but this adorable and festive dress we’ve all been lusting after is on sale. Check out the whole sale section — lots of fab buys there!

+These drawing books are fantastic for kids. They also have a cute thumbprint one.

+Love the look of this $25 coverup.

+Literally a perfect Memorial Day dress.

+Want to buy a new Pam Munson bag and torn between this and this!

+Fact: you will be a Bond Girl if you wear this suit.

+Ordered these adorable shorts for micro.

+Stunning under $200 wedding guest dress.

+How FUN are these sandals? They remind me of the ones by Dior but much less expensive.

+Also stocked up on some essentials for mini at RL — they’re having a decent sale ATM. Bought her some solid tees, polos, sleeveless polos, and a polo dress.

+Fun pool or bath toys for kids — we have these!

+Picked up some extra mealtime gear as we will have my niece and nephew with us for nearly ten days — all my favorites here, but specifically ordered extra silicone mats and these easy lunchboxes for picnics.

+OMG these $16 safari-themed trunks!

+These adorable botanical-print mules are on sale for $66.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

8 thoughts on “Love Is.

  1. I SO resonate with this post (and the comment your mom made about your father- my mom frequently says similar things relating to my dad, and I suppose I’ve become the same regarding my husband).. You’re right, love is much much more than clicking an Amazon link and purchasing a frivolous item to show affection. It’s about the salad. My husband has been bringing me a small glass of orange juice each morning before I shower (I’m pregnant for the second time and much much more dizzy/nauseous) and it’s meant so much. As I’ve always tried to teach him and others, “the little things aren’t little.”

    1. I so agree with you, Mallory — the little things aren’t little. Love that expression. So sweet of your husband bringing you the OJ each morning!


  2. I adore this: “I mean that love is often a quiet presence that builds up over time: the grandparent at every baseball game, the sister who always answers her phone, …”

    Our family has a saying: “family shows up.” It’s become shorthand for “those closest to you will find a way to be there for you and will be a constant presence in your life, in moments big and small” and vice versa – it reminds me to show up for the people I love, not with grand gestures, but rather with quiet consistency. Love is a choice. And love is a verb.

    1. I so agree with this, Danielle. Especially the note about being there in moments “big and small.” Sometimes it’s just the unremarked, for-no-reason hangouts — sitting while someone’s preparing dinner, chatting on a couch, grocery shopping together — that really build a sense of trust, intimacy. xx

  3. Yes! <3 so many of your versions of love scream "acts of service," one of my husband's most dominant love languages. (Are you familiar? I should think so, ubiquitous as the love languages are — for a reason, as I think they really are helpful for understanding how we love and how we receive love.) Part of what you're saying, or what resonates for me, is that to be loved is to feel taken care of.

  4. So very true. Making a salad is a huge pain in the butt! We don’t acknowledge that enough in this society!

    One of my dear friends will occasionally send me random little tchotchkes in the mail from his work travels. Another friend commented on the novelty koozie I slipped around her beer at my house one day and when I said N sent it to me, she casually commented “wow, now that’s love.” And she was so right. Picking up a little item that reminds you of friend, toting it home, slipping it into an envelope and sending it on its way. Love indeed.

Previous Article

Next Article