I Defined Love Through the Women I Look Up To
Disclaimers: The word love is used loosely in various areas of this piece as I myself, am unable to accurately define it through each person’s perception. Each definition isn’t only limited to romantic relationships. Wander away.
I’ve never known any woman who has remained loyal to love for as long as woman 1 has, even as it betrayed her. I’ve only heard the stories about her love life, but I believe them, because if the older generations of men in my family are anything like the one before mine, then I know that love isn’t demonstrated in the most loving way. Woman 1 continues to love through it all. Always has, always will. Always in her own way. She’s the one that pushes you away at any sign of physical affection but tells you she loves you every day by making sure you eat three meals a day and that you put your necklace inside your shirt when you step out into the streets of our quiet neighborhood in Santo Domingo. “El dinero va en las medias y la cadena adentro de la camisa” (Money goes inside your socks and your necklace inside your shirt), I can hear her voice so clear as I get ready to go to work in downtown Manhattan and glance at my shiny necklace that hangs on top of my shirt.
Love failed Woman 2 at least three times and each time she pretended that it didn’t bother her. Instead, she took on to any activity that back then was considered to be exclusively for men: Politics. It was as if she was spelling out one giant “fuck you” and taking matters into her own hands. That’s how she carried out her revenge. Her mother would reprimand her for getting home late after a long day of challenging the men in power because “Las mujeres que se respetan no se meten en eso” (Respectful women don’t get involved in politics). Unknowingly, she taught us unsuspecting children what the future would bring and how to handle it. We’re all rebels now; the kind that don’t live up to the Dominican woman’s expectations. Disappointing for some, jubilating for the ones taking up after her.
One love failed Woman 3, the one that does every day when she looks in the mirror. Still, her other love sticks through every action that we can no longer explain, or just don’t try to. The older generations believe something is wrong with Woman 3 while the younger ones understand that she has detached herself from impossible and judgmental expectations. She stays in bed, hair undone when she wants to and dresses up only for special occasions. She eats what and when she wants through the disapproving looks of the others. She laughs mischievously to mock their concern while winking at us, the audience; The ones that root for her and hope to one day liberate her so that she can get off the stage that is her life and just live.
The most complex of them, at least to me. The one that has somehow found the way to be dependent on both love and on her own independence. Yes, one can depend on independence. Love failed her, over and over again but she never failed it in return. Even during the biggest of let downs, she stuck through it, regretting, but still sticking. Admirable? Perhaps. Selfish, really. Caring, but in her own way. She’s one of those women that you take or leave. She’ll be there when you return. He left over and over again, falling for other women in between. Falling for other women during. Always falling into bed together at the end.
I am Woman 5. She is me and the women from my generation. The products of all these other women. The ones that try to take the admirable from the experience of past women and leave the unworthy behind but can’t help but to take it all. We are the ones that search for answers while raising more questions. The ones that have to accept it all and make with it what we can. The ones that deal with the aftermath of the irresponsible men that were never held accountable for their mistakes. We are the ones that have to rise up and make the changes we long for although we are constantly being beaten down by the broken-down ghosts of the generations before. We are the ones that will free them.
Love is the most subjective of words there is to define. You can attempt to define it in meanings, actions even objects only to find yourself being surprised by it every time you face it. The only thing you know is what love isn’t, and even that is subjected to each person. Love is the way that you take it and it isn’t, in the ways that you don’t. Love is. Love isn’t. Love hurts. Love heals. Love leaves you. Love returns. Love never comes back. Love breaks you down. Love builds you up. Love is what you accept. They did experience love after all.
Until the Next Late Night,
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