The famous LOVE statue in Philadelphia was not what I’d expected. The fountain was dried up and the corners of its mouth overflowed with wads of garbage. I went to see the love piece three different times during my stay in Philadelphia, hoping each time to glimpse the fountain fanning cool sheets of water behind the crimson letters, hoping my meager photographic skills would capture just the right angle, just the right light.
Each click of the camera left me struck by the clusters of homeless men and the occasional homeless woman living in the park so known for its proclamation of love. They were huddled in masses of faded grays and browns on the park benches and against the corners of statues of somebody historic, I’m sure. It was not the background I’d hoped for my storybook photo of love. Some men zipped themselves into sleeping bag cocoons and others flung their words at each other, their anger knifing the air and making me quicken my pace as I walked by.
Writing those words I’m ashamed because that’s what I did.
I just walked by.
I, the pious seeker of the perfect picture of love, just walked by, sometimes with a prickle of fear shimmying down my spine and a look of pity angling down my nose. Not once did I stop to offer my gloves, or the few dollars wrinkled in my wallet, or the coat that usually hangs stuffed amongst many in my closet. I went looking for love and I missed it. I missed it completely.
I dream about the LOVE statue and in my dreams I am the kinder, more compassionate version of myself, the version I wish I was in my waking hours. In my dreams I cock my head at the same angle as the crooked O atop the E. I tilt my head and ponder the statue, ponder what it means to really love. I wake and my neck twinges with pain from all my dreaming.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and desperately hope I don’t miss the opportunity to love again today.