It started with an i love you, too sign stuck to the front of my refrigerator with a magnet. It was meant to be a self-serve love note system for my kids- like finding a note in your lunchbox, but in a grab-it-when-you-need-it format.
That first sign went untouched on the fridge for several days. Then one morning, I glanced at the sign and and it took my breath away. The i love you, too sign seemed to have metamorphosed from a message BY me into a message TO me. It was as if I could hear my grandma’s voice over the landline’s strained long distance connection greeting me from another decade, “I love you, too!” I was immediately overwhelmed with deep feelings of contentment, security, warmth and a huge smile. I pulled the first tab from the sign and tucked it into my purse as I went out the door.
In the days following, the remaining tabs were pulled. One by one, the tabs became bookmarks, an “I’m sorry” after a cross word, a thank-you for a kind deed, or a good-bye token for a friend. Each tab invoked a different i love you, too sensation. One time it was a hug from my mom. Other times the tab became a hope or a sweet nod from a friend.
Summer 2010 delivered adventures big and small. Along with learning to surf, trying a new restaurant, and running to the highest point in the city I wrote on my summer “to try” list “post i love you, too signs”. I printed a stack of signs and kept them in the car, along with push pins and a roll of tape. The i love you, too message quickly went renegade as we posted them around the city or places we visited. Arriving a few minutes early to meet friends meant time to find the next i love you, too location. We’d secretly post the sign, giggle, and sneak away. The experience was fun and unexpected – slightly magical.
One afternoon, I was driving alone in a sleepy beach town. I parked in front of the only store in town and stepped on to the wood-planked porch. When my eyes glimpsed a community bulletin board with advertisements for local gigs and art shows, I returned to the car and grabbed ani love you, toosign. I hung my sign with a push pin left by a previous visitor. Then went in and bought a drink, returning to the porch a few minutes later, and noticed ONE OF THE TABS HAD BEEN PULLED. I’d never seen an i love you, too tab go missing outside of my own kitchen. My heart stopped. No, my heart exploded. Maybe my heart started singing. I don’t know how to explain how my heart was working except that I’d never felt that feeling before. Ecstatic? Amazed? If the English language has a word for how I felt, I do not know what it is. I glanced around the one block of Main Street, searching for who might have pulled the tab, but there was no one in sight. Someone had been on their way into the store as I was leaving – had that person pulled the tab? Had it been a man? A woman? A teen?
I walked the few steps to my car, sat down in the driver’s seat, left the door open and mused. I felt like I was alive inside a Mary Oliver poem. I could not stop wondering what the sign had meant to the one who pulled the tab. What was the message for them? What did they do with the tab? Where were they now? Would they tell someone about it? Or was it the kind of message they would keep close? Did they love this as much as I did, or was it just me? In these musing moments life felt more vivid.
It had never before occurred to me how others might experience the i love you, too sign. It had simply felt good – truly good – to hang them up. It felt playful and fun. But, actually knowing a stranger pulled a tab felt divine.
Near the end of the summer, a friend was in our kitchen and commented on the i love you, too sign on the refrigerator. He then said, “You should start a website.”
The idea just wouldn’t disappear. It visited me as I fell asleep, drove carpool, worked out – the idea became my buddy and made its way on the ‘must do’ list. My friend’s idea sparked a dream that I’m releasing into the universe – or at least into the World Wide Web – with this website.
I’m incredibly inspired by possibility. So I wonder: What is the collective effect of 100 people having their breath taken away? Or of 200 people feeling hugged? What is the ripple effect of giving small tabs of love, anonymously? Just thinking about these possibilities makes my heart start to sing.
This is my get love. give love. story.
And yes, i love you, too.