This week’s prompt in the Mom Before Mom series truly struck me:
Do you remember your first romantic thoughts? How old were you? Who was your first crush? It’s the month of love so fill us in on how you created a concept, an idea of love and relationships.
In some ways, this prompt brings me back to last week and why I chose to not write about my birthdays as a child. I had AMAZING days spent just for me: bowling parties, a pool party at the Abington YMCA, gymnastics parties… but my worst birthday ever, my 13th, is never far from my memory. I always hesitate to celebrate me because of it. My Dad handed me a black box. Inside was a tanzanite and diamond ring. It was Monday, November 10, 1997. I was 13. Less than 5 months later, withered into a skeleton of himself, he was dead. He was diagnosed on my birthday… the first man I’d ever loved- the one who taught me that sometimes, for those you love more than yourself, you just suck (the proverbial) it up. My parents were married and in love (most of the time) for 24 years- until April 21, 1998.
And now I sit and I think about this topic. I think about love. I think about my husband and why I am so attracted to him. Want to know the truth? He’s just like my Dad.
I can remember movies I watched and falling in love with being in love, but watching my parents, I grew enamored with the idea of marriage and all the hard work that took. I played house, where I cleaned and cooked and went to work as a professional hockey player.
And so, I fell in love for the first time. His name? Rod Brind’Amour. He was #17 for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was also November on my calendar… I don’t remember the year, but I remember looking at the picture of him lifting weights and reading about he and his (then) wife Kellie and feeling resentment for her. I was young and had convinced myself that being 14 years younger didn’t mean anything. I could take care of him. Whatever the heck that meant. I remember going to the Flyers’ Wives Fight for Lives carnival and getting a Polaroid taken with Rod. It was love. Eric Lindros, John LeClair? So over it.
I, to this day, resent when Rod is mentioned as one of the ugliest men in the NHL. I like strong noses and big eyes… add that to him being Rod the Bod and his Stanley Cup Ring (regrettably not with the Flyers)- and he’s my dream man. Plus… has anyone ever seen Mike Ricci? I also fell in love with Chris Gratton… but certainly not because he was an amazing hockey player- it was all looks. His number was 55 with the Flyers and 77 with Tampa… making a combination of numbers, I chose 17 and 75 and my lucky ones in life. Seventeen, more often, is a winner for me.
Just to sweeten the deal: I was always #17 0r #75, a combination of my loves, when I could pick my number in sports, and Addie was born on the 17th. I have a connection with Rod… It’s just a fact, you never forget your first love.
Years after my crushes, a married member of the Philadelphia Flyers hit on my sister in a South Jersey bar. I never had another crush on an NHL player.
There were boys I liked in school… Robbie, Taylor, Scott (and the other Scott), Lane. Then Dan, Tyler, Jake, John, Tommy, Doug, Sully, and Seth. But those were crushes that defined nothing in me except my fickle-in-love manner and my ever-changing taste towards the sports-minded man versus the musician. I swear, I’ve never met a man who is truly a varsity athlete and master of the baritone guitar, but I hold hope for you ladies- there is one out there!
After the passing of my father, I looked for someone to love and mend. Looking for someone to take care of meant: passing up my paychecks and emotions to boys who were missing something in their lives. Perhaps it was their motivation, mother, financial or emotional resources. I watched movies that could never reflect reality- daydreaming about what it would be life if…, while transforming people into the men they wanted to be. I wrote résumés, book reports, college papers, gave money, co-signed leases, cleaned apartments and cars, lent out my vehicle. I had two great loves in college and one after. Yet, I was never satisfied. I was loved, but I never felt safe- perhaps more my fault than any man’s.
Don’t get me wrong- I have felt great love before Dave, and I’ve dated some amazing, strong men- but I never found the Blane to my Andie (Pretty in Pink)- my protector. I’ve always been boy-crazed, and if by any chance Rod Brind-Amour calls me (hey, he could email me…), I would still swoon, but I’ve finally found the love of a lifetime. He never brings me flowers unless I yell at him to, and he doesn’t light candles unless the power goes out. I know, without fail, his gift for whatever holiday will be a charm and he rarely remembers to get me a Hallmark card (if he gets me a card at all). Rubbing my back is less seductive and more of a chore for him, and the last time we went on a date I think I was still considered in my early twenties. BUT… when I eat garlic by the handful to get rid of my cold, he still leans in for a kiss, and when I want to watch a sappy movie he plays on his phone next to me. When I cry over the past, he doesn’t ask me to remember the future, and when I can’t help but fret over what tomorrow will bring, he reminds me about how beautiful life is today.
When I think of my current definition of love and romance, it’s similar to what I felt as a child watching my parents: it is work you’re happy to do. I take my vows seriously and always have open lines of communication with my husband. Doesn’t sound romantic, but saying I love you every night and meaning it is about as perfect as it gets. I thank my childhood for offering up such vivid dreams of love that are not real so that I can say I lived fantasies. I carried around baby dolls that were my love child between some famous person and myself (having NO idea how babies got here), and I put pictures of Johnny and Leo on my walls. I imagined the boy I loved holding a boom box up, and I still love [almost] every John Cusack character ever. The fact remains that while movies aren’t real, love is. And I’m both thankful and regretful of the lessons I learned which shaped and molded my version of love as I know it.