Why doesn’t love live here anymore?

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One of the many perks of spending my summers in Spain is running into old acquaintances. Such was the case last night when the elevator I was waiting for opened to reveal two old friends.

After exchanging excited greetings, we found ourselves sharing a bottle of cheap Spanish wine while catching up. We discovered who was pregnant, who had a new grandchild, and sadly, who’d passed away. We found out who tied the knot, remarried, or filed for divorce. While this may sound like a typical gossip fest, I assure you it was not.

Why? Because what started off as a simple exchange of information, deepened into a high order discussion of identifying “the why.”

One minute, one friend was revealing details of her brother’s marital break up, and the next, the other was admitting she’d been in a loveless marriage for twenty years.

Wine glasses were quickly refilled to cover up the awkward silence that ensued. However, the question hanging in the air was, “Why?” The friend in question did not have an answer.

The conversation that followed was so interesting, my friends have allowed me to share our results. But first, I should point out that our first question was, how different is staying with someone in a loveless marriage from an actual divorce? The answer is, not much.

We identified that in both cases, the individuals have become distant; estranged. They no longer share common interests and exchanges of affection are either rare or nonexistent.

Conversation is limited to current events, the weather, and the daily conundrum.

They never make time for one another and everything else always takes precedence.

Romantic, intimate moments, and sex are just a hazy memory. They claim to be busy, tired, or stressed. One has a headache, the other has to get up early the next morning.

Time continues to pass. One year turns into five, then into ten, and before long, they’ve spent two decades in the company of someone who is nothing more than a roommate.

You’d think all things considered, they wouldn’t want to spend a moment in each other’s company, let alone a lifetime. Yet together they remain.

Our discussion revealed the typical reasons for this being so: religion, financial difficulties, and the famous, “it’s in the best interest of the children.” However, we wanted to go deeper. Much deeper.

We wanted to discover what had the power to hold two peole hostage and force them to wake up in a state of misery day after day.

We were convinced a justifiable reason existed.

I want to tell you we were successful. I want to tell you we had an “aha” moment, that one of us screamed, “Eureka!”. But alas, such is not the case.

We were more confused at the end of our conversation than when we started. We bid each other farewell, disheartened and frustated.

This morning, an empty coffee cup by my side, I continue to look for answers.

My brain tells me perhaps it’s fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of starting over.

Or perhaps it’s conformity–blind acceptance that this is the hand destiny has dealt.

Or maybe people are just too tired, lazy, or believe themselves unworthy of something or someone better.

I’m certain each case is different. Individuals in these circumstances are sure to have personal reasons for remaining. However, something tells me many, if not all, have one thing in common. They all want to know why.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation, and if so, why do you stay?

XOXO,

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 innocent

Where, oh where is the one that got away?

beach 2

We all have one.

Thoughts of what if allow our minds to wander.

We play house, picture ourselves living in different lands, different continents.

Closing our eyes, we see ourselves carrying out the role of wife, mother, lover.

We drift.
We dream.
We yearn.

And for a couple of brief moments, we think how different our lives would be.

The one that got away.

The one we thought we were destined to be with, grow old with.

We question why it didn’t work out.
Why we’re not in his life.
Why we let him go.

We curse destiny.
Scream profanities at fate.
Demand the universe give us answers.

Where is he?
Why did he go?
Why did we let him get away?

We think of a time when we were inseparable.

A time when his voice gave us goose bumps, when his laughter left us breathless, when his touch turned us into liquid butter.

A time when we were happy.

Staring out into the sea this morning, I experienced the shifting of worlds.

Slowly walking into the water, my mind waved goodbye to my body and effortlessly traveled to another place in time.

A whimsical place, bathed in sunlight, and bright colors.

The place where my heart told me I was destined to be.

One where he and I equaled two.

Two people in love.
Together.
Always.

No leaving.
No chasing.
No getting away.

A trio of children splash water nearby.

I open my eyes and realize I’ve left the alternate reality where he lives; where we live.

A deep sigh fills my lungs with air.

I breathe in the present.

A salty tear falls softly, intermingling with the salty water below.

The one that got away.
The one who left me breathless.
The one who made my heart sing.

He drifts further away.

Hands outstretched, I reach out.

And once again, he gets away.

The Mediterranean Sea.

Powerful inducer of dreams.
Formidable fantasy spinner.
Brilliant creator of what should have been.

Taking one last look at this lovely lady, I swim back to shore.

beach 1

beach 3

What prompts you to think of the one that got away?

Dreaming in sunny Spain,