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Natalia Naman Temesgen: Being a hopeless romantic is all I truly know

Happy Valentine's Day! Some of us may not have a Valentine, but this holiday has almost become as much fun for singles as couples.

Singles get to enjoy restaurant deals geared toward a onesie order (like that Dairy Queen Singles Blizzard, YUM!) and enjoy a relatively inexpensive day. Couples who celebrate are less likely to budget -- in fact, the average amount spent on Valentine's Day in the United States is about $500.

And what is it all for? Romance. A nearly antiquated concept. I can be quite a romantic person. And if I look at my family history, it's probably in my gene pool.

Take my grandmothers, for instance.

My maternal grandmother, Hyacinth, was born and raised in Jamaica. Her family, original

ly from India, had lived in Jamaica for generations and had preserved the Indian ethnicity down the line. As a teenager, Hyacinth helped her father by working in his general store. One day, she saw a young man come in to deliver crabs to the store and was instantly charmed by him. His name was Lloyd and once they began to speak, it was clear the attraction was mutual.

They would speak as often as Lloyd came to the store, but Hyacinth was careful not to attract too much attention in front of her father. Not only was she supposed to be working, but she was also more or less prohibited from dating non-Indians. Lloyd was a black man -- his roots were Jamaican and Cuban.

Eventually, their romance became so intense (they were each other's first love, after all) that they decided to marry despite the repercussions that might follow. Their star-crossed union, though initially discouraged by her family, ended up bearing five beautiful children, 20 grandchildren, and two great-grands.

My paternal grandmother, Yvonne, said she knew she wanted to marry my grandpa, Julio, before she even really met him. She knew his sister and they shared mutual friends. As a teenager, she found him to be so cute and remembers standing on her Harlem fire escape after school to watch him walk down the block on his way home. Just as her young heart desired, they fell in love, married, and had three precious children.

Julio served in the Korean War, and while he was away he would write romantic letters to Yvonne. My grandma still has those letters and so many others that she got from her sweetheart over the rest of their lives together. It has been so touching to read a few of them and to know not only how special their love was, but how romantically it was expressed.

My husband treated me to the Valentine's trifecta this year -- a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne. He also gave me a handwritten love note that I will save in a little box along with all of the other loving keepsakes he's given me. I may be a hopeless romantic, but to be fair: it's in my bones.

-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at nntemesgen@gmail.com

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