[Originally published October 28, 2011.]

- - -

Dear Girls who Live, Laugh, Love,

Tell me how it happened. I must know. Were you walking through the mall one day, and something in a home and furniture store caught your eye? It was a bronze picture frame, wasn’t it? It was classic, antique-y, very Martha Stewart; not something she’d feature in her magazine, but maybe something she would keep on the screen porch of her beach house in Maine. You saw it was embossed, and you took a closer look. LIVE LAUGH LOVE, it read. And you were like, oh, my God. OH, MY GOD.
 
Or were you looking through your friend’s photo album of her year in Nepal? It was a very life-changing experience for her, and you were very happy for her. You hoped to one day find meaning in your life, and you sighed discontentedly as you shut the album. And then, there it was! Right on the cover! Etched into the leather were three tiny words. LIVE LAUGH LOVE. And you were like, Oh… my God. OH, MY GOD! And you ran out of your friend’s dorm room and down the hall chanting your new mantra. LIVE. LAUGH. LOVE.
 
Was that how it happened? The reason I ask is just that I’m curious! Did you realize, right then and there, that you weren’t LIVING? If not, what were you doing? Were you not tasting the sweetness of the world’s best medicine, LAUGHING? Were you not LOVING in a way that would suggest that you’ve never been hurt before?
 
It’s not that I disagree with the words. Indeed, far from it. LIVING— yes! I do it every day, as far as I can tell. LAUGHING—check! I watch America’s Funniest Home Videos all the time, for that very reason! LOVING? I love many things. I fucking LOVE my dog and online scrabble. But that’s the thing. When I say LIVE, AFV, ONLINE SCRABBLE, no one’s re-blogging that shit. No one’s engraving it on their high school shop project, so I’m guessing there’s more to this than picking three arbitrary facts of life and photo-shopping it over the silhouette of a long-legged woman leaping against the sunset.
 
These are wise words, and I am to take them seriously, if I am to be welcomed into the community of those who LIVE LAUGH LOVE.  I imagine it to be a very supportive community, where there is such an extraordinary level of understanding. For instance, perhaps someday I will have a job interview at a very fancy place. “Name a time in your life when you have showed great leadership,” the interviewer lady will say. And I will completely ignore the question. Instead I will say, “Have you ever LIVED, Ms. Henderson? Do you understand the value of LAUGHTER? Do you frequently revisit a certain emotion called LOVE?” And Ms. Henderson, my interviewer, will gasp softly. She will blink away tears. Without saying a word, she will slowly pull up the polyester sleeve of her navy blue pantsuit. She holds her wrist toward me, and I lean forward to meet her half way. There it is, tattooed on her wrist: LIVE LAUGH LOVE glowing brightly against her skin in immaculate Lucida Calligraphy. Breath-taking. And I know, without a word being exchanged, that I have not only been hired, but I have probably been hired for a position much more distinguished than that which I have applied for.
 
Or on the other hand, say I am eating dinner with the Queen, and something happens to tickle my funny bone, and I shoot my Dubonnet cocktail out of my nose, and she does NOT finding it amusing, and does NOT think, “Oh, what a charming girl, LIVING in such a way that so openly displays her LOVE of LAUGHTER!” I’m going to assume that she does NOT have VIVO RODIE AMO subtly engraved on the inside of her crown. Thus she is not in the club, thus she does not get it, and thus I should not feel so terrible about offending Her Majesty The Queen. Instead, I’ll have to clue her in on this phenomenon. I’ll explain everything, and pretty soon we’ll both be rolling around Windsor Castle, alive, laughing, hugging each other!
 
Am I right in all of this, Girls Who LIVE LAUGH LOVE? If I were to put a decal of this onto the back window of my car, will it all suddenly hit me like a ton of leather-bound photo albums? If I edit this into my favorite quotations on my Facebook page, am I in the club? Tell me what I must do! I wish to LIVE! I wish to LAUGH! I wish to LOVE! Pull me out of my own obscurity! Let me in! Is there a weekend retreat involved? A subscription I have to pay for? A special charm bracelet I have to wear? I’ll do anything, ladies. Enlighten me, please.
 
Sincerely,
Maggie Nugent