“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Love is. Love exists in the simplest forms. Funnily though, while it only shows up when you look for it, sometimes it also startles you unexpectedly…”
It’s a typical, old-fashioned cozy sort of cafe where none of its furniture seem to match. Portraits of famous jazz figures hung on the walls and it would seem as if you cannot contain too many people all at once or it would lose its charm.
Denis, the owner of the cafe, runs the place with his best friend Ranjeet. They’ve known each other since school and their friendship has stuck on ever since. Denis plays the drums when the jamming session begins, I suppose that’s how Ranjeet covers up for him by running about taking orders and serving. Tonight, Ranjeet isn’t here and Denis seems to be up on his toes doing double duties. While I feel sorry for that poor man, I also know that tonight, Denis will be reminded about how much his best friend means to him. Even if that includes some aspirin and much-needed sleep after.
As I sip my cup of sinful hot chocolate, another group of customers walks in. They greet and give high-fives to the existing customers like old friends. In fact, I think they are old friends.
Love always hopes, always perseveres.
I think about someone I know and believe that I have come to love. She was not the easiest person to approach. I find myself grinning whenever I recall how she first responded to me, and how much I wanted to deflate her arrogance then. But it took only one fateful night where in the midst of vulnerability, I found someone who understands me and was just as broken as I was despite the confident front she puts on. Just when I thought I could not trust anyone else, I found a true friend in the unlikeliest person who eventually became like a sister to me.
But alas, change comes into the scene, just like all the extra roadways and buildings that seem to pop out of nowhere in this town. And this time, a small road was constructed between us and we became strangers once again. We would hitch rides to different places, but we would never stop at the same side. We didn’t know what went wrong, or did we? I don’t know, we never talked about it.
“Young man, would you sing this song for me?”
My thoughts are swayed by a request from one of the customers to my friend. He sang an impressive number of “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton earlier on and clearly gained a fan. Unfortunately, due to the generation gap, my friend doesn’t know the other old songs from the list and politely declines. While we thought we have disappointed that lady, an older man steps up to the stage and starts singing the exact number that she has requested. Despite the obvious fact that he isn’t the best singer in the house, I can tell he’s having the time of his life. The lady looks slightly embarrassed but at the same time, oddly, her face is bursting with pride.
As the song ended, another one begins. This one has a familiar ring to it. Of course, it has the entire cafe singing along to “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…” I wonder if this is the best birthday she has ever had.
“That’s my husband, everyone!” she declares. Cheers and claps follow suit. I look at them in amazement. Amused, but amazed as much.
Love is patient, love is kind.
The guitarist and vocalist of the night, Balan, grabs a chair and sits with us to have a little chat. Like me, he leads a double-life. A chemical plant analyzer by day, and a carefree musician by night. He asks me why I wouldn’t go and sing, because it seems like I know the words to all the songs that he had sung all night. As I give my reasons, he doesn’t buy any of them. He says that if one can step up and sing as if no one cares, that person has already conquered half of life’s fears. He adds that he loves music and himself just enough to shut away other people’s expectations and perceptions towards him. And because of that, he normally does a great job performing his music. He loves what he does and he isn’t going to let anyone’s opinion take that away from him. He sees his mistakes and improves, but does not quit.
He raises his glass of red wine and hops to another table, leaving me with a crazy thought that maybe someday, I might just take up that mic.
Love is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.
Why are we so afraid to express love?
The birthday lady is now dancing with her husband as the band continues to play. No, they’re not afraid, and I wonder if it took them years to attain that kind of courage. Did it come along on that day they said “I do” to one another? Or could it be the years of commitment and loyalty despite all the arguments and bad times they had that watered the tree of fearlessness?
But they say that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is about acting in the presence of fear. If that’s true, then I suppose love is part of having someone acting in the presence of fear with you.
Love always protects, always trusts.
Another man steps up to sing a number. We were floored by his voice as he mimics the legendary Louis Armstrong with “What a Wonderful World”. He comes with his family, and even though his son is a little bored with the endless rounds of songs he doesn’t know, he cheers his old man on while recording a video of this priceless moment.
I look around me to see the familiar faces who have accompanied me to this little cafe tonight, and I am grateful for the wonderful people that have been placed in my life by Love – my friends, my family. Life gets easier when they’re around.
Still, I can’t help but miss that friend of mine. We have been on the opposite sides of the road for a little while now. Do I have enough courage to cross that road, say hello and start all over again? I think about Denis and his best friend, the birthday lady and her husband, Balan and his love for music, and the Asian version of Louis Armstrong.
Love helps you do the impossible. Love never fails.
I have decided to take that first step. Maybe slowly and a little more carefully – there could be some traffic along that road. But nevertheless, I think have a little bit of Love stored up to get me through to the other side.
Just like the ending of a quote someone wise once told me,
“…but no matter how surprising nor unstartling Love can be, seize it. For it has been said that if we have faith that can move mountains, but have not Love, we are nothing.” — Uncle Pat