‘Love’ can mean many things.
As New Zealanders, we often tend to think about it in a narrow sense - between two people in a romantic relationship. In its most iconic form, we all are all too familiar with love - from bad Adam Sandler movies to chocolates and flowers, Hallmark cards and all that. Who could disagree? It is how we typically think about an iconic New Zealand brand - like Michael Hill Jeweller. A place for people searching for a symbol of romantic love. But, yesterday I was thinking quietly to myself about just how many more ways to love and be loved, and that I experience these types of love, every day, without noticing it.
"In its most iconic form, we all are all too familiar with Love - bad Adam Sandler movies to chocolates, flowers, Hallmark cards and all that"
"When it feels like the next atrocity is just one tweet away, perhaps it is time to re-frame how much we notice and appreciate love, especially in our everyday lives"
They say that the ancient Greeks had 6 different words for love. Above and beyond ‘eros’ - love in a romantic sense - there was self-love, the love of your friends, the love for everyone around you in a selfless way and that between a parent and child. When you look at it like the Grecians did, it is obvious that one word really doesn’t do 'love' justice. Think about how many words we have for hate. ‘Terrorism’, ‘Disaster’, ‘War’ - and that’s just for starters. When it feels like the next atrocity is just one tweet away, perhaps it is time to re-frame how much we notice and appreciate love, especially in our everyday lives.
When I really thought about it, I realised that see love in Wellington on a daily basis. Wellington has always been known as a city for love. A micro-city of 496,000, we all rub shoulder to shoulder with acceptance and tolerance. Civil servants bustle cheerfully past Goths. Workmen smile at the local coffee shop. Skaters high five the second-hand clothing store owner in her sixties.
"Wellington has always been known as a city for love...at the heart of this, are Cuba Street, Manners Mall and Te Aro precinct"
At the heart of this, are Cuba Street, Manners Mall and Te Aro precinct. I found when I walked around I found symbols of love everywhere. The padlocks on the bridge by the harbour. A workman and his dog eating lunch outside Floriditas. Friends chilling in the sun. A new jewellery store opening up on Manners Street, plastic being peeled off the windows with utmost care. All these were, to the uninitiated eye, just daily life. It’s how we relate to each other in Wellington: open, uninhibited, frank and tender. From coffee to clothes, film to fantasy comics, we think it’s cool to care. But looking at the world fresh, to me, I saw love.
A Maori proverb asks what is the most important thing in life? The answer? “He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” (it is the people, it is the people, it is the people). I love Wellington. But what makes this city amazing are all the support networks that exist here, who love me, pick- ing me up when I’m down. My family, friends, colleagues and teachers. It is easy not to remember to stop, appreciate and reciprocate those hard-won relationships. But showing someone you see their love doesn’t need to be much. For me, my mother has made me the woman I am today. She’s key person who has always been there. My mother’s always loved pearls, after seeing the new Michael Hill store was open, I wanted to get her something to show her I am thinking of her, wherever she is.
We visited the new Michael Hill store together to get a little symbol of our love and friend- ship. The store itself is certainly sharing some love in the area, reviving the Manners Street precinct with its classic charm and grand facade. Michael Hill on Manners Street is full of pieces of jewellery, sitting like flowers waiting to bloom. These bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings will come to symbolise signs of love and affection, not just of a romantic nature, but standing for many kinds of love.
My mum used to tell me about Michael Hill when we visited family friends and then later our own family bach in Whangarei as a teenager. Michael & Christine opened the doors of their first store 38 years ago, in that same little city. Back then, only well-to-do folk bought jewellery, so when they opened a store that offered beautifully crafted jewellery, accessible to everyone, in little old Whangarei, it caught the imagination of the town and word spread. They say that seven years later, they had seven stores and eight years later, they opened their first store in Australia. Now Michael Hill has a big name, with over 300 jewellery stores here, in Aussie, Canada and the United States, but their humble roots and the fact they really focus on the customer means they’ve kept that initial buzz that made them famous. I love that they are one of the few jewellery retailers that have an in-house team of designers and master craftsmen still.
On arriving, we were helped by the wonderful Charles. He spoke to us in depth about what we wanted and after dithering on whether a set of silver bangles, one each, we settled on some timeless pearls. They looked like little tear drops, straight out of a Vermeer painting - the girl with a pearl earring (mum and I share a love of art history!).
We put them on, and with a spring in our step, headed back to mums for a celebratory glass of wine! Michael Hill’s motto is, after all the years in business is ‘We’re for love’. It's a message that is timeless and incorporates, in my opinion, all the types of love. When I am old and my mother is gone, I will reach for her pearls, which will outlive her. I will wear them against my skin, smooth and warm. They will bring back the scent of her perfume, her fuzzy peach cheeks and her wrinkled eyes, smiling. Nothing is forever. But you can make time to say “I see what you do for me”. As a city, Wellingtonians, we are for love.
This blog post is kindly sponsored by the good folk at Michael Hill. As usual, all opinions are my own.