It’s hard to imagine I sat in this very same seat at the Rovaniemi airport just two short months ago, anxiously awaiting the bus that would take me to husky heaven, with no idea what life at Korvala was like. Now I sit here awaiting the plane that will carry me to my next adventure with the faint smell of dogs on my jacket from this morning’s round of goodbye cuddles, a lifetime of memories etched in my mind, knowing exactly what life at Korvala is like.
But time is time and life continues, even after you leave. And eventually memories fade. If you’re lucky, some memories stick with you long after you’ve left, shaping your tomorrow.
While playing a game with the kids one cozy Saturday evening before dinner (the best), I learned that Aleksandra, Jaana and Seppo’s nine-year-old daughter, had already had ELEVEN boyfriends. Eleven. Two more boyfriends than years lived! Incredibly curious about her active love life, hoping to pick up some tips to get back in the game, I asked her if she could remember all of their names. With a little help from her sister Amanda, she started ticking them off on her fingers.
“Well, there is Olavi (the current flame) and before that…there was Michael Jackson, and Quest (who, you should know, is one of the Q puppies), and James Bond —“
“The character, or the actor?” I asked, catching on.
“Daaaniel Craaaig,” Aleksandra sang, as if I should have known that. (I mean, I probably should have known that, but I’m more of the Sean Connery type, am I right Mel?)
“Ahhh, I see. Did Daniel Craig and Michael know they were in this relationship?”
“Mmm, I don’t know,” she shrugged, not caring if they did or did not.
“Hmm. Well, what made them your boyfriends? What made them different from any other boy?”
“Welllll, because…I loved them,” she honestly replied.
Ahhh, to be nine again.
But leave it to a nine-year-old to remind you of the simplicity of something made so inextricably complicated by adults. In fact, Aleksandra might be onto something.
Everyone knows someone who just seems to love it all. Someone who says ‘I love you’ every time they say goodbye, every time they hang up the phone, or who claims they love this and loooove that, and everything in between. Someone who falls in love so quickly, or who always seems to be in love with someone or something else. And then there’s the people who treat the word love as if it’s their favorite perfume and they don’t want to waste it, or only bring it out for special occasions. People who reserve it for weddings, birthdays, and funerals. People who don’t believe other people when they hear it. People who think if they say it too much or too often, it will lose it’s meaning.
I used to be more like the latter, but now I’m starting to think that sounds like a personal problem. I mean, come on. Is it really a bad thing to have too much love in this world? Does it really matter if s/he loves everything and anything? It is certainly better than hating everything. And love is just a word. It is me, it is you, it is people who give it meaning, give it feeling, our experiences that breathe life into it. And if love has lost it’s meaning on you, I recommend you get out there and find it again. Or find it for the first time.
Because I am kind of like you. Love makes me desperately uncomfortable, even the word itself. I didn’t grow up throwing it around the house, nor did my parents before me. I think they found it under a couch cushion or something when I was in college, because we slowly began lobbing it around, gingerly at first, tossing it in one direction and then hiding in a corner, giggling like a child. At least that’s how I felt. I like to think that as a family, we grew into adults about the whole thing, and are now playing a full on game of ping-pong (even my brother Sean, gasp), but it took time. And effort. I tattooed miłość (the word love, in Polish) on my inner forearm as a personal reminder of many things, one of them to love and let myself be loved. My sister Tessa later did the same. And when I first came across my little journey’s adoptive mission statement: quit your day job, see the world, fall in love, find yourself, I remember thinking, mmmm do I really have to fall in love before I find myself? Maybe I’ll just skip that part. I guess sometimes I still find myself giggling in a corner when it comes to love.
But Aleksandra, with her pure, and very real, stance on love helped me realize I’d been thinking about it all wrong. The quote just guides you to fall in love, to let yourself experience love. It doesn’t say who with, or that it has to be with a person at all.
And if that isn’t what I feel in my heart right now, as I deeply inhale, relieved the smell of dogs is still there, and re-watch (again and again) the little video I took of Iinna and Iisku this morning after I started to panic when I realized this could be the last time I see them in 3D again…if that isn’t…No. It is. It most definitely is.
So, with a heavy heart, full of things made of love, I’m off to Norway. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find myself there.