Can you remember the first time you felt love? Not the butterflies associated with your first crush or the day you laid eyes on the one you just knew you would marry. Can you remember the first time the concept of love as a feeling and an experience entered your world? I can.
Long before the strangle hold of political correctness and cultural emasculation, little boys played with toy guns. Cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys, war games, and yes even the now taboo cowboys and Indians. We built and defended back yard forts, ducked and rolled, hid in trees and threw caps, pellets and self made sound effects that would make the hottest beat boxer in the world say “dang”. We “played guns”.
They looked real. The classic, silver, simulated six shooter that smelled perpetually of sulfur, the rat tat tat of toy machine guns and everything in between. There was no red tip on the barrel and the cylinder on my toy revolver worked just like my Dad’s real one. My arsenal was full and my time was my own.
My neighborhood friends and I would do battle non-stop, day in, and day out. Never did we hear anything about it not being “nice” or anyone worrying that we would one day fall into a life of crime. We were boys. It’s what we did. Proof of my parent’s support of my firearm obsession was a summer stop at New Hampshire’s Six Gun City. Here in New England we have some pretty incredible tourist attractions. Clarks bears, Santa’s Village, Lost river, Story Land and more obscure places like Laconia’s (now defunct) Chief Red Dawn’s Indian Village to name a few.
My favorite however was always Six Gun City. In the 70’s it looked like a western ghost town. There were a few rides and every day they had stuntmen dressed as cowboys putting on shows. Today there is a waterslide and it has become an ultra modern, old time ghost town. I don’t know if they host old time gunfights anymore. But this is not a story about gunfights. This is a story about love.
We spent the night at a motel, which was also a first and my excitement made it nearly impossible to sleep. It also made it utterly impossible for me to let my parents sleep in. They didn’t seem to mind and that is where the love story begins. I was dressed and ready to go. On this day being “dressed and ready to go” included a cowboy hat, bandana, gun belt and that shiny silver cap gun that I waxed about earlier.
Standing in the motel room, a chubby little over excited cowboy I squealed to my mom the questions “are you happy?” And “are you having fun?”. “I am happy when I know you’re happy” she replied.
I am happy when I know you’re happy… I was six or seven at the time and I have never forgotten that moment. Love is a lot of things to a lot of people. We understand it in different ways and we see it clearly in some moments more than others. In all the ways we attempt to show love to others in our lives I am convinced that love is beautifully displayed when we are joyful in the joy of others and when we learn to love what our loved ones love.
Who do you love? What do they love? How do you show them love?
Is your love for them tailored to them or to you?