it’s valentine’s day! this was one holiday that i was forced to participate in from an early age that always made me cringe!
i can remember being a little girl, maybe five or six, and buying those boxes of multi-picture cards, all different poses or whatever from a popular cartoon. back then it was strawberry shortcake to the rescue, and i remember the cards were all scratch and sniff-that was huge back then! the day before valentine’s day we would have to turn our white paper bag into the canvas for every symbol of love imaginable. then we would go home, list of students in hand, and fill out the cards!
all they said was:
i would painstakingly, with the best penmanship i could manage, fill out those cards. i would balk at the ones i had to give to the mean kids, the bullies, and usually the teacher. on the big vday we would have the school’s idea of a party-cookies and fruit punch sitting at your desk and talking to the people around you-if you happened to be sitting next to the kid who kicked a dog in the street- tough, sucks to be you! getting up roaming through the class to enjoy the company of your friends was not going down. it was still school, “maintain some decorum and remember god is watching you!” at this time we were living in a small town in texas that was populated solely by german immigrants and their offspring and offspring’s offspring. we spoke german for the most part in town and in school. everyone was catholic, that was the only church in town, and you better go or the entire population will begin to wonder if you are in cahoots with the big D himself. 3 times a week we walked from the school to the church about 15-20 feet from the school. we would take the first part of the morning learning about the lord and savior, we would pray for the souls of the dearly departed, then attend a mass. so god watching you was pounded into my brain hardcore from birth. nothing like catholic guilt! the parties were lame, the valentines generic and those little hearts with the writing on them were disgusting but i ate at least half of the box every year because it had the word “candy” in it, and candy=good so maybe i was eating them wrong and i needed to do it differently somehow bc these were not delicious they were like licking a chalkboard-and yes i did that a couple of times. we moved to a bigger town when i was 7, but really nothing changed except no one spoke german and there was a safeway grocery store and more people. the valentines day party was just as horrible no matter what. i mean we weren’t having to do work, which most of the kids liked, but for the most part i would just read or write or do word searches. this continued until i reached the 6th grade. by that time i was going to school high or drunk so really nothing was lame, it was all mostly funny, but i just kinda sat back and watched the others, participation wasn’t going to happen, not from this cowgirl!
by 6th grade i had also found the thrill of having a crush, and usually a much older boyfriend. i spent the majority of my jr high days drunk and switching boyfriends almost as fast as i would switch my panties. this phase lasted until at least the end of my freshman year and maybe a bit of my sophomore year. mid first semester of sophomore year i added daily doses of amphetamines and occasional hallucinates and cocaine use to my bag of tricks and kind of began to see the worth of who i was- i have no idea how that happened simultaneously, but it did. dating scum bag losers, while not completely off the table, slowed down rapidly. at this tier of the tower, the mandatory bag decorating and forced valentines only existed in my memories-sometimes my brain would throw in a pinch or two of nostalgia to throw me off balance. since i was never really down for maintaining girlfriend status, valentines day became just another day on the calendar. for me it had as much credence as president’s day. for me it was an overhyped compilation of needy clingy ass nonsense. this was probably do to the fact that while i enjoyed sex i did not enjoy the people wanting to have me as property.
when ted and i got together my life changed pretty drastically. i had stopped taking drugs for the most part a few weeks maybe 2 months before the beginning of our journey together, then apart then together than apart then friends and co-parents. i remember the first valentine’s day we were together was the first time i had actually been happy and excited. that day it stopped being overhyped bullshit, and it began to have some sort of meaning. i was still extremely self-centered, but it was nice to do something for and with ted that day. after that day valentines day morphed again into something else all together.
by feb of the next year i had a little baby named eli. he was to me the most beautiful creature i had ever laid eyes on and i fell madly in love with him. i do believe that eli was the first person in the world that i loved the way you are supposed to love. the birth of that boy redefined what it meant to put someone first, before myself and to do so without thought or visions of some sort of self satisfaction or martyrdom inciting a manipulation and or forcing others to be malleable clay in my life. he was perfect just as he was. i never wanted compromise or surrender from my baby. i found out how good it felt to no longer play the lead role in my one person play. my life had become an amalgamation of raw emotions and beautiful prose. i learned truth and purpose beyond my self.
within a few years my family had grown in leaps and bounds. i had to more boys-jeffrey and samuel. i loved them with as much fire as i had eli. and with each day my loved grew and expanded in ways that were unfathomable to me the day before. they each brought something new into my world. the wonderment of these little people, the innocence of unhindered emotion, fear of them being hurt, watching them fall and have difficulties, holding their hand in a struggle of self-these were all concepts that before my children were injected into my life. my love, my true unselfish love grew and soared creating new universes, adding dimensions never conjured before in the history of the world.
due to the lessons of love from my children, different ways of loving have been added to my jar of emotions. it had opened doors that had been invisible until cast into view by my new understanding of how you should love. i learned that love is not always beautiful or kind or clean or tamed at times it is a banshee screaming in the night, a siren unleashing hypnotic tunes, an orange moon behind the howl of a feral dog and the continuation of atomic big bangs an internal collapse and rebuilding, restructuring; love can be unjust but the capacity for forgiveness and acceptance in never in short supply. i learned that i could love more than one sentient being at a time without taking from the others with the addition of new players. i saw myself-the good, the beautiful, the bad and the ugly-through the lenses of others, learning how to see myself as a valid person capable of much more than i had ever been taught before. compassion, compromise, restraint, internal emotional violence, friendship, true guilt for not listening to myself which was different than the guilt i had learned through the constant influx of negativity shown to me before. before my love had been black and white, occasionally grey, but growing with and through my children introduced me to a spectrum, a rainbow of unbridled, unwavering and occasionally unforgiving life. there were no defenses set up, there was offense necessary. survival and companionship and comradery became the crux of my reality.
without these three people who started out as two completely different half cells that bound together through some magic, these people who grew and kicked and had fingernails living deep in the cavern of my body, i would still be circling the same tree confused as to why it all looked so familiar.
today on valentines day friday, feb 14, 2014, my idea of love is deeper and richer than ever before. today i am basking in the love of friends and family. today i have a bond with ted that is trusting, respectful and emotionally intimate. i have somehow found my partner amy who is more amazing. calm, balanced than anyone i have ever encountered before. she is full of a beautiful light radiating from the center of her soul, so amazing that at times just the sight of her takes my breath away. two of my children are no longer children. eli and jeffrey have both crossed the line from adolescence into adulthood and samuel is not far behind. they have become men full of strength, each compassionate in their own way, and capable of conquering feats beyond their assigned roles, they have dominated the hurtles set in front of them refusing to bow to the opinion and designation of those around them. they are more than. they are stronger than. they are smarter than. they are all three kings of their lives deciding for themselves their beliefs, values, passions, futures. they are capable, and are actively speeding forward leaving a fire in their wake. eli has fallen in love with a beautiful intelligent wonderful girl who inspires him to grab the golden ring taking away his fear and doubt. he has been drug to hell and back again, trampled on and people have attempted to gouge away at his soul. despite the negativity and alienation and attempted assassination of his person, strength and character, he has managed to prevail and accomplish without the aid of those who had promised to help him. jeff has found happiness in cooking and music and friendships which we were told he would never have, he has taken his destiny and willed himself to be far more than the box they attempted to assign him. according to society jeff was never supposed to survive much less thrive in many areas of life, but he has taken the rules of behavior assigned to him and conquered every one of the items on the list of “incapable”. he has a strength most people can’t even begin to comprehend. samuel is a social butterfly with friends and budding romantic relationships; he has set his goals and he will not concede to defeat. he forces himself through life never bowing out or minimizing others to be the last one standing-that is not necessary he is empowered by himself through himself and stealing the life, ego, psyche, power, happiness of others only belittles him as a person, it is a false bravado that only veils insecurities.
valentines day now means i am able to bask in the love and companionship of those around me. “happy valentines day” it is no longer a pointless phrase only muttered with nothing but sounds to back it up. today i can look around me, in my life and find a love and beauty that gives meaning to life and allows every moment to be a special occasion.