My mom always said del amor no se vive, one does not live off of love. I always hated when she said that. It sounded so horrible, especially since my idea of romantic love came from the melodramatic Telenovelas I watched in the evenings and the romantic comedies I watched at the movies on the weekend. I always fancied myself one of the heroines, waiting for love to come and sweep me off my feet. And in a way, I was. I waited and waited and waited until I started writing sad poetry about my aging virginity.
As a kid I remember going to Toys r Us. This was a pretty big deal in my house because my parents never bought toys. I was allowed to pick something out and I picked out Heartthrob, The Dream Date Game from 1988. It was basically a bunch of centerfold cards or headshots of eligible bachelors, and I’m sure there were rules to the game too, but I never got to play with anyone because I didn’t have friends at that time, and I don’t think I even spoke English, so all I did was look at the cards and pick which boys I liked best solely based on looks. And that is how I would continue to pick boys to like for most of my youth, which is probably why I never had a boyfriend growing up. The “cute” or “cool” boys just weren’t into me.
My parents were pretty strict when it came to boys and dating anyway. I wasn’t allowed to go on dates, boys couldn’t call me on the phone, I think? Honestly my parents never said I couldn’t date or have boys call me on the phone, but I assumed as much because anytime any of this came up my parents made me feel ashamed for even thinking about it, or patronized, because how could a child understand the complexities of what a relationship entails? This could of all been something I made up in my head, but there it is. I did not date until college and I did not have a real boyfriend until I was in my 20’s.
Valentine's Day has always been a downer, except for my dad. My dad would always be my Valentine. He would bring me a flower or a teddy bear or a balloon, you know, the stuff you can buy from the guy selling them at the stop light. It was cute and thoughtful and my best memories of a contrived holiday that has for the most part just made me feel lonely and unlovable. If he ever brought my mom flowers though she would say, estas se van a morir. Porque no me das el dinero mejor, or “these are going to die why not give me the money instead.” Once he put money in the flowers and she was both happy and insulted.
My big generalization is that our ideas and expectations of romantic love will never live up to reality and that this hyped up holiday is not doing anyone any favors, but rather creating more reasons to feel bad about ourselves and our love lives.
Have you ever had a good Valentine's?
What were your ideas of romantic love before having experienced love?
My mother used to say del amor no se vive, one does not live off of love. Did your mom have any of these totally unromantic sayings?
Would love to hear from you!
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Wendy writes blog posts that turn into conversations for the Mamá Cita Podcast.