Does age affect the way we see Valentine’s Day?

Broken heart

Be my valentine!
I heart you!
Be mine!
I love you!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bombarded greeted by these declarations long before Christmas was over. Establishments, all the way from bookstores to bakeries, have been more than happy to promote the countdown to the most awaited (or dreaded) holiday of the year.

But before any V-day lovers get their knickers in a bunch, know this will not be a rant on the evils doings of Cupid and his arrows. Nor will it be a history lesson on Saint Valentine and his role in this capitalistic venture upcoming holiday.

Rather, this will be a walk down memory lane (it’s been too long since I did one of those) to explore my attitudes and reactions to the “friendship/love” day.

And so it begins…

Age 6
I remember coming home with a self made, decorated envelope stuffed with “valentines.” Cards illustrated with fat cats and the words “You’re Puurfect, Valentine” made me giggle. The fact that so many people wanted me to be their valentine made me feel special and filled me with joy.

Age 10
Valentine cards, some of them still unopened, filled my backpack. Rushing to my room so I could continue reading “Anne of Green Gables,” I spied Nana, standing regally in the middle of the hallway, a stern look on her face. “Bella, unopened Valentine cards show a lack of respect and appreciation to your classmates. March your behind to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of milk, and let’s read those cards!” I knew better than to protest.

Age 12
At this age, I had discovered that crafting was not only fun, but also a way to bond with friends. Since we considered ourselves too “big” to hand out valentines, we spent this day making beautiful cards out of glossy paper, lace, and glitter. The recipients? Only our very best friends (known nowadays as “besties,” “bae,” or “BFFs.”)

Age 14
Valentine cards were replaced with “candy grams.” For a mere fifty cents (which wasn’t so mere at the time), you could send friends a lollipop in the shape of a heart, accompanied by a message. Many used this method to send anonymous messages to secret crushes. The amount of candy grams received determined a person’s popularity and sadly, also had the power to undermine the self confidence and self esteem of many. At the end of the day, it was easy to see who was well liked and who was “invisible.”

Age 17
Boys had “upped” their game and arrived at school bearing gifts of flowers and heart shaped chocolate boxes. This was also the time when I received a poem from a young man named Eddie, in which he professed his undying love. I wish I could tell you what it said, but I barely skimmed the contents before shoving it into my pocket. Unfortunately, I forgot all about it and it was destroyed when Nana threw my pants in the wash. When Eddie learned of his poem’s demise (yes, I was stupid enough to tell him), he looked at me with contempt and said, “Bella, may your callous disregard for someone else’s feelings result in you never being loved. Really loved. Like I loved you but no longer do.” (Spoken like a true poet.) Eddie, if you’re reading this, please know your hex worked and to this day, I still believe love is an illusion.

Age 20
This Valentine’s Day brought love (and horror) into my life in the form of a phone call. Hearing the words, “I love you. Will you marry me?” induced a panic attack that lasted for days. (Did I mention it was my first proposal and came from an ex boyfriend I hadn’t seen in two years?)

Age 24
Second marriage proposal. This time my reaction was more positive. Although in hindsight, I would have been better served reacting the same way I had to proposal #1.

Early 30’s
Valentine’s Day was no longer a one on one affair. As a single mother, I went from recipient to delegated card buyer, to crafts expert, to writer of cards. I was also a shoulder to cry on when the Daughter didn’t receive a valentine from “the one” and the Son got too many “stupid girly cards” and none that featured Pokemon.

Age 35
Third marriage proposal. This one came from Christopher, one of my pre kindergarten students who, dressed in a long sleeved white shirt and black shorts, dropped down to one knee, and asked for my hand in marriage. To this day, the beautiful little plastic ring he offered me is one of my most valuable possessions.

Late 30’s
Valentine’s Day celebrations are just a hazy memory. I’m only reminded of this holiday’s existence by phone calls from loved ones (young and idealistic family members), eager to scream, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Oh, and by the low hanging “Be Mine” sign at the supermarket that hit me on the head and almost gave me a concussion.

Early 40’s
Valentine’s Day? Really? Are they still celebrating that?
Note to self: Include a reminder on Google calendar for February 15. Must beat to the punch other overworked, disillusioned, and exhausted women over the age of 40 for 50% off Valentine’s Day chocolates. (Remember to wear comfortable shoes since physical altercations are very much a possibility).

Oh, chocolate.
You have the power to remind me why I’m still grateful for this holiday. Thank you for that!

Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocents

Do you qualify to be someone’s person?

Childhood best Friends

A person.

My person.

Individuals who made a difference in my life were assigned the title “my person” long before Shonda Rhimes introduced it in the television series, “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Some of the traits that characterize this individual have varied throughout the years, while others have remained the same.

Tonight, as I sat on the couch with only Roxy for company, I realized it’s been a while since I’ve called anyone “my person.”

Wrapping my fingers around a steaming mug of coffee, I pondered what a job profile for this esteemed position would be like. Quickly grabbing a notebook, I began to scribble what I deemed would be essential traits.

When I finished, my list looked something like this:

~ Must be willing to listen without judgement or criticism

~ Must possess the ability to comprehend verbal and non verbal communication, including profanity, slang, and unintelligible babble

~ Must possess empathy, kindness, and compassion

~ Must be able to both listen and hear, without interruptions, and for prolonged periods of time ~ Should possess restraint to keep from offering advice and other “fix it” type suggestions

~ Must be patient, sensitive, and supportive

Optional but favorable skills include:

~ Ability to make “personee” laugh, giggle, and feel like his or her situation has a solution

~ Ability to soothe, placate, and provide reassurance

~ Willingness to commiserate, validate, and offer a shoulder to cry on

Note: Willingness to bring good wine will guarantee potential candidates an automatic second interview

Note: Clock watchers, critics, and pseudo intellectuals need not apply

Yes, I’m certain this is how a “person’s” job profile would read.

Why? Because I’m convinced these are universal needs; needs that require us to reach out to our person in times of duress.

In times we feel lonely.
In times we feel completely alone.

A person.

We should all have one.
Every one of us.

Because no matter how tough, strong, and empowered we think we are, there are times we need to hear, “I am here. Talk to me.”

Do you have a person?

Is summer really gone?

feet

My sabbatical was not planned; it wasn’t intentional. As I boarded the flight that carried me to the land of tapas, I naively believed this summer would be different; that my beloved little beach town would finally have a reliable Internet connection. But alas, this was not so.

Time after time, I attempted to connect, only to lose my connection after only two seconds.

Don’t think I didn’t try, folks. I did. But in the end, I found it was easier to give in to the paella comas and the lull of the waves, than to harbor frustration and irritation.

Now, two and a half months later, I am once again in the place I call home. Sadly, it feels like it’s home that I’ve left behind.

Looking out the window, my eyes taking in the gray and gloomy clouds, I can’t but miss my beloved land of Don Quijote. My eyes tear at the thought of having to wait nine months before I am once again reunited with my mother and her furry friend, Olivia.

It’s barely been three weeks since I arrived, and already I yearn for the sun’s warm kiss on my skin and the tantalizing smell of salt in the air.

The sea. How I miss it! I miss its ability to lull me to sleep; waves gently making their way to the shore, peaks of white foam reaching up to the sky.

I miss the happy disposition of the Spanish and the courteous way they always greet one another with “¡Buenos Días!” or “¡Buenas noches!” Good morning! Good evening!

I miss the little bakery that serves the most delicious “cafe con leche.” I miss its colorful decor, the little rattan tables, and the group of people who gather there every morning for pleasant conversation.

I miss the music, the chatter, the noise.
I miss the passion of the people, the culture, the country.

I miss the fish, the paella, the wine.
Wine that regardless its cost, always tastes like ambrosia.

I miss the Spanish “telenovela” my mother and I watched faithfully every afternoon. I miss guessing which character would marry, die, or become a nun or a priest at the first sign of a lover’s betrayal.

I miss it all.

A heavy sigh lingers in my lungs, unwilling to escape my lips, afraid that if it does, the realization that all that has been left behind will become tangible. Concrete. Real.

Nevertheless, life goes on, my friends, and so must I. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reenter the blogosphere and once again become acquainted with your creative genius.

Reading glasses perched on my nose, I reach for my mouse.

old town 1

old town 2

old town 3

How did you spend your summer?

XOXO,

Note: If you want to see more photos of Spain, visit me on Instagram!