Congratulations, for Gina's mother

It hurts to write this. Gina and I broke up. Everything was fine this time. We were on the same page. She loved me back this time. Logistics got in the way though. Logistics and communication. Communication about logistics. This break up had nothing to do with love. The love was definitely there. The lack of communication (or perhaps the inability to communicate) was what split us apart. So it goes. If I know Gina, she'll be back in my life soon enough. Or more accurately so, I'll go running back to her.

Gina's mother lives in a small town in Brazil and I remember meeting her. She was a loving person and I could see where Gina got her love from. Growing up in a cross cultural family and traveling down abroad to visit family is one of my fondest memories and I never told Gina this, but I thought about taking a family down to Brazil with her. What if we had kids, and what if we had to take them down once a summer? What would it be like to see Gina's mother, Mrs. R., holding my child? Would my son speak Portuguese and know how to work the churrasco? Would my daughter dance samba and play soccer? These were thoughts that I mulled around in my head, but being the fool I am, never said out loud. I bet it would have changed everything. I'm so good at being aloof.

So this is a letter to Gina's mother, Mrs. R. She doesn't speak a lick of English, so I translated it from the original Portuguese version I wrote. We spoke from time to time but really, she only knew me through Gina. I hope through the letter I wrote her, she has a better understanding of who I am.


Hello Mrs. R,

I remember I tried really hard to learn Portuguese when I moved to Brazil. Naturally. I was interested in speaking with women. So I asked one of my roommates how I could compliment one. He told me, " Tell her, congratulations (parabéns)! " I was confused. Congratulations ?! I thought you say congratulations when someone wins something or has a birthday? Brazilian's say that to a woman for being good looking? Really? Congratulations for being beautiful? I didn't pay him any mind and I almost forgot what he told me, until I ran into Gina again.

I remember how excited I was when I found her. My beautiful, intelligent, English-speaking (whew!) goddess. After some time seeing her I felt like my Portuguese was getting better. Nevertheless, I was still caught in that foreign language insecurity and I felt as if I was saying the same things. I wanted to compliment her and impress her with my cunning linguistic abilities. So on a day when she looked particularly radiant, I said to her, " Congratulations."

She looked at me, laughed, and smiled that beaming smile of hers, "For what?"

I said, "Why!? For being beautiful!"

She responded with that same beaming smile on her face, " No Jacobs. If you want to say 'congratulations', you got to say it to my mother.

So it goes Mrs. R. I'm writing you to say congratulations for your daughter. You must be really proud of her.

I would be too. If one day I should have a daughter, I'd love her to be like Gina. Mrs. R., let me tell you, your daughter, Gina is sexy and before you start contemplating medieval torture techniques to practice on me for even broaching the subject, let me explain to you what I mean by "sexy". Depending on who you ask, there's a famous (north) american actor who's often considered the "sexiest man alive" by 14 year-olds around the world. He won an award at an award show for Teens and gave a speech about what it means to be sexy. I found this speech so thought-provoking and relevant, I've come to define sexy this way as well. (click here to hear Ashton Kutcher's definition of sexy)

The first condition to be met to be sexy, is to be intelligent. Mrs. R, Gina is definitely intelligent. Not because of her MBA or because she was valedictorian of her undergrad class. That's cool but that's not the only reason she's intelligent. She has social intelligence. You can tell by the way she interacts with people. She's creative, you can tell by the way she solves problems. Mrs. R, she knows enough to know she doesn't know anything. She understands the depth of this world, and with that understanding, knows she doesn't understand the world. She always wants to learn more. She loves learning Mrs. R. I sincerely believe when a person stops learning, they stop living. She'll live forever at this rate. We used to live and learn together. So much.

Mrs. R, Gina's sexy because she's thoughtful. She's so thoughtful I felt pressure when it came time to give gifts or try to surprise her. She'd always be able to sniff out what I was doing.

Mrs. R, Gina's sexy because she's generous. She always shared with me. The last bite, her time, your culture. She shared it. Mrs. R, we were so intense.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea about me though. It wasn't intense like Ike and Tina Turner. No, not like that. I'm speaking emotionally intense. Good lord, what love we shared! What happiness and cheer! Such sadness too. Such oppressive depression. Yet with so much humor and curiosity. Adventure and comfort, peace, fun, confidence, fear, anger, confusion, excitement and fresh air. Mrs. R, it was so intense.

You see, normally when you ask a person what they want out of life, they'll say they want to be happy. If the goal is to be happy, most people would say they don't want to be sad, thinking that sadness is the opposite of happiness.

But that's not it Mrs. R. It's not like that at all.

Boredom and indifference. Those are the opposite of happiness. I'd cry a thousand times before I felt bored of Gina, or heaven forbid, indifferent for Gina. Gina and I, we felt a lot. We were never bored or indifferent. This love ran deep.

And it is with a heavy heart that I'm writing you today. Gina and I broke up. I can't take care of her the way she wants me to. I can barely take care of myself the way I want to. How am I supposed to take care of her?

The truth is, I don't think our story is over. Yeah we're not together now, but I believe certain people are like seasons. They come, do what they need to and they leave for a year, but they come back. If Gina was a season in my life (and I in hers) I hope we come back to each other. We can start a Spring that never ends, growing, opening, and blooming together.

I wanted to thank you Mrs. R. I wanted to say "congratulations" to you and just in case I never see you again, I want to give you a hug and a goodbye. This has been a beautiful chapter in my life. I hope Gina and I get back together, that way I can go down to Brazil and see you. You can count on this:

If you see Gina and me in Brazil, in your hometown, it'll be cause I'm going to ask for her hand in marriage. Count on it.

But if you never see me again ...

I'll leave you with this thought:

" People say that love is blind. I don't believe that. I believe that love is accepting."

If I never see Gina (and you) again, I wouldn't like it, but I'd accept it.

with acceptance,



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