Claudia is 40. She came to New York when she was 20 years old, without speaking a word of English. Her Nana pushed her to explore the world. Eagerly, she packed her bags and left Madrid by herself to come visit a friend. She quickly fell in love, the kind that she would die for. She said that her whole body yearned for him- head over heels, completely and utterly lost. She surrendered. Had her first son soon after and kept on going. She ended up with four children by this tall and handsome man. She had this look in her eyes when she talked about him, about his physique, about how he made her feel. And about how much she was willing to give up everything for him.
Getting married in early 20s is like swallowing a chocolatey sweet cyanide pill each time you have sex with the person. It is a chronic low dose poison that you may not be aware of until a decade later. Until you realize that you’ve grown apart, everything died, and all you shared are the chores surrounding the children and the financial obligations.
The smart girl she is, Claudia got a divorce in her 30s. She then met her current husband, a third generation Italian American, whom she says she loves. She said to me that her Nana told her to only marry someone who loves her more than she loves him. This is the guy. Why does she love him?
Claudia loves him because when she is done working and goes home, dinner is ready on the table for her and her six children. Now she has six… ages 19, 17, 14, 10, and 7. I am missing one but I lost track. She loves him because he was so desperate for her love. She loves him because he wanted to marry her. She loves him because he lets her be who she is and have all the freedom she desires. Luckily the sex is good. Good sex is a must have and great sex seals the deal. Yet Claudia tells me that he is not her type – he is short and nerdy. She even showed me how short he is – my height. She tells me that when he breathes on her neck, she brushes him off and pushes him away. She can’t stand his breath.
The alarm bell went off in my head… Can you love someone and have children with them because he makes dinner but you can’t stand him when he comes close? When she allows him to come close, the sex is good so he is a keeper? I asked, “But that’s not the kind of love you would surrender to. Right?” Claudia answered, ” I did. I made myself surrender. I worked on it. It took me two years.”
It was a mic drop moment for me.
How does one will herself to fall in love deeply? Are we full of contradictions? Is love mostly about our ability to compromise?
Claudia will be going back to Madrid to visit her Nana soon, whom she loves dearly. Her Nana is 90 years+ and often feels death coming. Nana summons Claudia frequently. On Nana, Claudia’s love is unwavering and filled with light.
Inspired by a real person but fictional in nature. Claudia and I met for the first time, while she was cutting my hair yesterday.