I don’t have TV. I have a television, but I don’t get reception, and I haven’t had TV since May 2002. I don’t often miss it, and that’s pretty amazing for me, considering what a TV junkie I used to be.
When I started studying Spanish, I started missing TV. I remembered how, when I was learning Italian the all-Italian Sunday mornings on Channel 25 were my favorite homework. Watching all those strange variety shows and soccer matches and movies and news programs really helped me practice.
But what helped me most were the two soap operas that aired each Sunday. Soaps are fantastic as language acquisition tools: they are overly dramatic, so you can follow them even without knowing what anyone is saying and, best of all, they’re notorious for their endless repetition. Every new installment rehashes every storyline that came before. So crazy-making, but also really great. You hear the same story enough times, and words start to separate and take on meaning. Suddenly you’re able to understand new info on the third or fourth go-round … and then on the second … and eventually even on the first.
And the telenovelas are legendary. They are the gold standard in crazy melodrama. Surely my Spanish would be so much better by now if I could watch them, but alas: no TV.
And then it occurred to me to check — of course — YouTube. Sure enough, novelas aplenty.
I started watching one called Amor Comprado (“Bought Love”), but I made the mistake of starting near the end. It was already so convoluted, it was too hard to keep up. Then I tried Amores de Mercado (which one YouTuber translates to, “Tough Love,” though I really thought it should be “Loves of the Market”), but it doesn’t play well on my computer, so no-go.
At last I found Heridas de Amor (“Wounds of Love”). This one is fantastic: cheesy, offensive, sexist, sensational, irrational, impossible. Home at last.
Last week I heard the first installment of a real-life episode: Valerie has broken up with Jeovany. That was the news that greeted me as I arrived at school Thursday and found Valerie hanging over the front fence rail waiting for Reina. True, the fact that they managed to be together at all, let alone stay together from January to now is pretty amazing. Still, the fact that they had found a way to stay together made me think they might actually stay together. But no.
I have, of course, my own selfish hopes for both of them. Chief among them is that neither allows the pain, anger and confusion of this herida de amor to push them to violence or pull them out of school.
Valerie seems pretty ok. And maybe that’s because she also seems to be back on her meds. We haven’t had a heart to heart since before I left for Mexico, so I can’t be sure, but she is far more calm and centered and held together than she’s been in all the time I’ve known her. And that’s good in general, but also in terms of how she will or won’t work through this sad and uncomfortable time.
Jeovany, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in meds and has a long history of responding with violence and then trying to make things right. I’m not worried that he will hurt Valerie, but he can erupt in so many ways, in so many places. His anger could cost him the very good job he’s been working these last few months, could get him arrested, could get him killed.
In Heridas there are no straight forward stories, all are clogged with secrets, lies, misunderstandings, the past rearing its confusing head, unknown-unknowns and just plain old ludicrous plot twists to keep us feeling shaky and uncertain. The twists and turns are often so unrealistic as to be comical. (I mean, if you knew that a woman I had recently met and begun working with was really the mother who had abandoned me twenty years ago and who I thought was dead … you’d tell me, right? Right? I’m just saying.) And while we are helped along by the ridiculously expository dialogue, the constant re-telling — often punctuated with flashbacks — to be sure that we won’t have missed anything even if we missed an episode or two along the way, the crazy plots seem designed to make clear that life is complex and there are always things we just can’t know at the moment.
And I accept this in Heridas de Amor. Of course I accept it. But I have no room for the unknown-unknowns with Valerie and Jeovany. I want to know today that both will be fine, that both will keep working toward the GED diploma, that both will make it through, that neither will let this disappointment sour them even just a little to being open and giving with another person. I need to know, without any ambiguity, without having to wait for Chapter 99, without the threat of an evil twin or amnesia, that both of them will be alright.