Skip to content

Ordinary Love


U2’s lead singer, Bono, looked good arriving at the Golden Globes on January 12. He looked even better when he was up on stage and nodded towards Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay. U2 was collecting the award for Best Original Song, “Ordinary Love,” from the movie “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom,” and took pains to credit Martin for his contribution.

I heard the song for the first time, on the car radio, just a few days before the awards show. The opening notes grabbed my ears and turned my face towards the sky, like a satellite craning for a signal. It made sense when I learned it bore Martin’s brushstroke. That’s why houses and trees glided by.

“It’s the water,” my friend M. said when my son was a newborn. He’d been fussing all afternoon, but stopped when M. turned on the faucet to wash her hands. His eyes blinked as he drank in the sound. His irises were bowls, like contact lenses placed wrong-side up, filling and spilling with the swishhhhhhh he recognized from gestation.

Recently I learned that a guy I grew up with now lives on the east coast, just a few hours from me. As a kid, he had all the physical attributes of a Hollywood-typecast bully, except that he was exactly the opposite. Agreeable. Smart. Never charged to let you check out his room (Mad magazines, black lights, Farah Fawcett posters). If I had a booking agent, I’d insist she put him on my world tour of We Should Have a Beer and Facebook. Though the guy and I weren’t especially close, he had Wacky Pack stickers plastered to his bedroom door. Things like “Cap’n Crud” and “Rice-a-Phoni.” That’s good enough for me.

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
And we can’t reach any higher
If we cannot deal with ordinary love.

There’s a place in the novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle called “CENTRAL central intelligence.”  It’s an imposing warehouse on the planet Camazotz, and inside lurks a nasty, bodiless brain that controls everyone’s mind. I laugh-cried when I read about it because my room (aka Central Processing-Attic-Office-Basement-Altar-Drive-Thru) is like that warehouse, but instead, it houses Lady Grantham’s proud smile, little Ricky Schroeder’s tear-stained cheeks, and Aunt Linda’s “Whaaaaaat?” That’s because all the physical mementos of my family’s ordinary love pass through my room on their way to the archive or the recycling bin. Specifically, they pass by and through me, like a time-softened Inspector 12.

Unearthed from the piles in my room, an unremarkable plastic ring is no ordinary thing. It’s a dismembered part of a toy my kids loved—the one that made that irritating noise. A unique set of criteria determines the fate of every object that awaits my review: love notes, outgrown clothes, insurance statements, drawings, and math worksheets. There are years in the piles.  And old pieces of candy. Which I eat. Houses and trees glide by.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to see that you yourself have altered. “   –Nelson Mandela

Posted in Uncategorized.

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.