The only Valentine’s Day present I remember is from my mom. A small picture frame holding an old photograph of me. I must be around two as I was just learning how to use the chamber pot. And my mom would sit with me for long minutes trying to make me stay in one place by giving me a mascara. She did not paint me to be beautiful, as she says ‘that was already given’ (this is what moms are for), but instead, she spelled CLOWN on my forehead with her dark red lipstick.
I don’t recall anything from that day, but I look happy, and that is good enough for me. But I remember when I asked my mom why she would give me a present for Valentine’s Day when it is only for people in love (and I remember thinking of that guy who I had a crash on but who never looked at me. Or not that I would see.) She said because it is about love and don’t we love each other?
Even though I had my (handful) shares of boyfriends along the way this is the only gift I still remember.
I am sure I got roses and bonbons and I am sure those boyfriends loved me, but the roses dry out, the bonbons disappear in my mouth (rather quickly). That picture however still stands in my bedroom and makes me smile each time I look at myself (and realize how right the clown still is) and reach for the phone to call my mom.
(This morning being no exception: I just finished talking to her, because the first person I call on Valentine’s Day is my mother – the only person, who loved me through all the 30 Valentine’s Day and not only on certain ones)
My boyfriend and I are together for more than four years now, which brings us down to our 4th Valentine’s Day together. Yet, I don’t remember any of those days. I don’t even think I got bonbons (but this might be because I stopped eating sugar around our 2nd year). Flowers? Maybe. But then again, I receive a bunch of flowers for each Fridays as he comes home with a smile saying: it’s for Shabbat. (The way to make a Christian to grow into having Shabbats is certainly this. Flower in a vase, dinner together and I even lit a candle when I find that damn match I always misplace somewhere to the unknown.)
I am one of those oversensitive people, who would laugh at a joke only to end up in tears the next moment because I heard that music that reminded me of that something (or that someone). And no, this is not a bipolar disorder, this is called: human feelings.
And yet, here I am and I just can’t recall any Valentine’s Days that would bring me to either end of my emotional spectrum.
But I remember many other days, though.
I remember the moment when he emailed me a song just a day before he officially asked me out. I wasn’t sure I liked him, but I remember listening to that song over and over again while I was scrambling that egg for one. (Since then I scramble those eggs for two and often reaching out to that very song, too).
I remember the moment he asked me if I wanted to move into his place. We were standing in his living room. It was winter. It was later afternoon. And I was hungry. Very hungry. We were barely two months together, but I packed my stuff that very same day and made the move.
I remember the moment he took me to Israel for the first time. It was early afternoon on the 10th of May. It was warm and humid, and there was a special smell all around. I rolled up my jeans till my knees and walked into the sea. And he took a picture of me because he saw what I felt: I was happy.
I remember the first time he said he loved me. I got mad. I did not say back. I wasn’t there yet. I was angry, sad and grieving. Yes, that ex. But he said it anyway. I remember my feet were cold. I remember washing away my guilt with a cold shower. I remember saying back I love you once I was ready.
I remember the first time we fought. I looked at my luggage and just wanted to run away. Run, back to my mother and the little clown from the picture. We did not talk for an hour. Then our little fingers met, and we made peace.
I remember when he left from Hungary that morning only to fly back with the next plane the same evening because I found a lump in my breast. And the doctor found it, too. I remember my father telling me how he wasn’t sure if he loved me before. “But now I know nobody loved you this much before. After me and your mother of course.”
I remember the first time he talked about his mother. It was dark and long after midnight. I was with my back to him staring at the full moon that I saw through the narrow line of the two dark curtains. He did not ask me to turn towards him. He knew I need the dark to cover my tears.
I remember the first time I questioned if he is the one for me only to melt by his look the second after.
I remember the first time I saw him sick and realized how weak men are when it comes to the flue.
I remember the first time I got jealous in that hotel in Tel Aviv as that beautiful brunette gave him that ‘you are too cute, and I don’t care that your girlfriend stands beside you‘ look.
I remember that night in L.A., besides that noise streets that run towards Santa Monica when I fainted from hunger, and he put my legs up and fed me slowly.
I remember that night when I was crying myself to sleep because I felt so alone. And I remember the next morning I pulled him closer and promised never to let him go.
I remember laughs. I remember cries. I remember first times. And I remember the many times. I remember the days. I remember the nights. I remember a lot of things, but I don’t remember the Valentine’s Days.
I remember life.
The life that happens between Valentine’s Days. The life that happens between the bonbons and fresh flowers. And between the kisses and screams. The hugs and door slaps. The talks and the silences.
I remember life.
Don’t ask for bonbons and flowers, ask for all what happens in between. But keep Valentine’s Day the day when you can note that regardless of all what happens in between you still hold hands!
And don’t forget to call your Mom – she’s always going to be your first Valentine’s.