“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” — Love Actually (2003)
(Preface: If you don’t like Love Actually, you are a terrible person with a crumbling soul and sour taste in rom-com movies. Now back to your regularly-scheduled blog.)
I’ve always enjoyed that philosophy which bookends the film. Even if it is a cheesy quote. And voiced by Hugh Grant. But the truth is, Hugh, in his turn as “England’s Prime Minister,” is right.
While traveling, I’ve experienced love in different forms many times over. From an elderly Irish cab driver’s love for Tasmania to a happy-go-lucky Filippino’s quest for romantic love to so many people in Iceland celebrating love, sustainability, music and creation.
I’ve stated this multiple times in other blogs, but it never gets old to think about how full our world is of loving, curious, interesting people. We may run out of space to live, natural resources, and food, but we’ll never face a shortage of humans with a passion for living in love, sharing their unique stories and hunting curiosity.
Most recently, love was manifested in a way I was not expecting. See, one thing about traveling abroad is that you’re more than likely going to miss big events; engagements, weddings, births, deaths, festivals, graduations.
I just didn’t expect to be out of the country for one of the bigger judicial rulings in the history of the United States — especially one that sparked such outpouring of joy and celebration.
I was in Toledo, Spain when the Supreme Court ordered all 50 states legalize gay marriage. My initial reaction was a tidal wave of relief and emotion; best described as ecstatic joy for those in my life who have waited so long and fought so hard for this overdue equality and freedom.
Then came the ripples of regret as I realized I wouldn’t be home to actually take part in the celebrations. And a few more ripples of selfishness after that, since my presence was not anywhere near a priority in that situation (not to mention that most complaints are invalid when I’m out here on this amazing adventure anyway…).
Still, just the sheer amount of love and happiness I knew I’d be missing at the weekend’s PRIDE festivities back home gnawed at me slightly. This very well may be the greatest human rights victory my generation lives to see, and I wouldn’t be there to dance in the streets with my friends or cheers to a better America with my family.
But then, an amazing thing happened.
I returned to Madrid from Toledo, and hopped a train to Cordoba. On the way to my hostel, I saw a PRIDE flag mounted on a balcony. On Twitter, I was shown a photo of a fountain in Madrid I’d been to just hours earlier, lit up with rainbow colors. I watched as my friends from the U.S. updated their profile pictures with Facebook’s rainbow filter. People I’ve met on my travels from Italy, Brazil, Sweden, Australia and more showered their social media accounts with support, including: “Good job, America!” and “America is finally figuring it out!”
I stumbled across more PRIDE flags in Cordoba. In Sevilla, one day after the ruling, my hostel was around the corner from a full-blown PRIDE event. I met a student from Texas Tech who, after lamenting that his boyfriend wasn’t in Spain to celebrate with him, smiled and said, “I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.” I met a bisexual student from New York who choked back tears when we started talking about the SCOTUS ruling. I met a handful of other young Americans in my hostel who — straight, gay or bi — beamed with pride.
Just moments ago, on a rooftop terrace in Morocco, with the Ramadan evening prayer blaring in the background, I excitedly praised the decision and discussed the world’s outpouring of support with two other Americans, two Canadians, three Brazilians, a Mexican and a Peruvian.
So really, I didn’t miss out on anything. The entire world seems to be celebrating the monumental decision and taking part in PRIDE festivities. Once again, the Earth pulsates with love, like a heart pumping blood to each and every extremity.
It reminded me that this monumental step forward, though just one of many, is everybody’s win. It means a better country, a better world and a better life.
When love wins, the world wins. And that will never change, no matter where you go.