It also happens to be February 14th, but that’s a minor detail.
Do you know what the best part about February 14th is?
That’s when stores start to discount all their fancy chocolates they weren’t able to sell the day before. Unfortunately for me this year in Spain there will be no places to run to for stocking up.
Oh I’m not bitter or anything,…I don’t have any bad memories, or buried sadness, or wishful thoughts. I’m rather thankful to be alone, it frees me from certain obligations of dressing up and going out, or dressing up to stay home and bother with cooking something I desperately hope would be special. Every year I always seem to luck out that way. Maybe once it would be nice to do, but not this year.
I would have almost had a Valentine this year. He actually leaves Europe today. I met him in a Spanish tapa bar in Lisbon 2 days before Christmas. It was a cool and starry night when I met him. I dressed in all black with a knee-length skirt and a lace top, my hair was down and messy from walking all day, my lips were painted a few shades lighter than the wine that met them as I sipped from my glass. I was sitting at the bar unaccompanied and eating the only thing I could afford, a tomato salad, and I pretended like I didn’t want anything but that to eat.
He was from Quebec and spoke an English heavy with a French accent. Supposedly he claims he saw me from the street as he walked past and thought about coming in, but didn’t, at least not until he walked past again and I was still there, and then he knew it was some sort of sign and went for it, although I have no proof beyond his word that that’s how it happened to be, but I like the way it sounds.
I liked him sitting there next to me, filling up another empty chair that lined the bar. Its been too long I don’t remember who started taking or what was exchanged, but we got to talking either way, and he turned out to be rather nice conversation. He had left Montreal to come to Lisbon to write a film script for his movie, in essence his purpose in Portugal was to read, gather ideas, feel inspired, write, live, enjoy, and be. He had been in Lisbon for a few weeks already and knew some hot spots, and I was convinced and deemed the situation safe, to leave and go see a few places around the area with him.
That night was full of sipping sweet mojitos, hanging out in smoke-filled bars packed with Portuguese, and some getting lost in and exploring the narrow cobble-stone streets of Lisbon. In keeping to the fashion of a true gentleman, at the end of the night he made sure I found a taxi to take me back to my hostel.
I never told him my name. He never told me his age. That was our agreement.
The story stops and continues and has a few things in between, but nothing truly romantic in the broad sense developed or occurred between us. He really was a gentleman and I did enjoy his company very much so. He was very generous and kind with me, and before I left Lisbon he told me I was invited back to stay with him, before he would leave,…today, February 14th. I actually considered it for a bit, and decided not to. Everything was wonderful the way it had been and I didn’t want to risk changing that.
Thats just one of the many stories I have to tell from Portugal, which I haven’t spoken much about. I don’t feel the need to share everything that happens. If you want all the details you’ll have to invite me out sometime and we can chat over drinks, that way I’m free to make it a real story with embellishments and exciting falsifications.
However I will say that in Portugal one of my most rewarding experiences was having the opportunity to see a traveling exhibit of personal photographs taken by and of Frida Kahlo. You can’t imagine how excited I was to find out about the exhibit!! The museum gallery hosted a collection of around 100 photographs ranging from old family portraits, to her more famous portraits that others had taken of her, as well as the photos she had taken of people such as Diego (that cow) or her other lovers/friends, and also the photos that demonstrate her love of Mexico and its people, history and culture.
It was such a pleasure to go alone, it made the time spent sort of intimate.
The gallery was carefully planned, and included a short and well made factual film about her life, as well as an elaborate Dia de los Muertos alter dedicated to her, and of course the photos. The experience was close up and personal, and before me was the woman who I admire so much, and the images of those she admired. Her photographs invoked such a range of emotions from painful sadness of seeing her broken fragile body after the accident and consequently her interpretations and dealings with it, to feeling a sweet nostalgia of Mexico.
She made me want to cry, to escape, to dream, to see, to love, to live, to fight. To laugh. I turned the corner once and I saw a picture of her that instantly put a smile on my face. Here a now blown up life-size Frida Kahlo sits in front of me, her hair is wild, her face scrunched up from the bright Mexico sun that shines down upon it. She doesn’t have flowers in her hair, or fancy jewelry, or the beautiful clothes that have become associated with her. She’s lounging around in a plain baggy suit thing, smoking a cigarette. I Absolutely love it, and laughed out loud. That would be the Frida Kahlo I would like to get to meet, to share some tequilas with her and just be real.
There was another photo I really liked that she had taken of her friend, and like other photos she had hand written on this one. It’s a picture of her female friend, in a chair with her legs spread apart, a seemingly unladylike position. Frida writes, “My normal position in life.”
Right next to that picture was another she had taken, of Diego. Frida had pressed her painted lips against the photo leaving 2 kisses to remain on the paper. I think she must have had beautiful kisses and for certain nice lips.
Love is a tricky thing, If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have so many books, songs, poems, movies, theories, and ideas dedicated to it, so I’m not even going to try to say that I know all about it.
But I do know Valentines day is often a time ridden with various shades of pink. And bouquets. And cards. And chocolates. And motions. And words.
I hope that this Valentines day you are able to do something that you truly love in the purest sense, whether or not that includes another person or not, not because Halmark says that’s how it should be, but because everyday we should seek out those things big or small that bring us and others true joy and happiness.
Happy Tuesday, February 14th everyone.