Mother and daughter in Spain
photo: iStock

There are some things in life that you simply shouldn't question. Love is supposedly one of them.

One of my very first memories consists of my mother telling me that if she and my dad died tomorrow, I would be "alone," therefore I couldn't  and shouldn't ever depend on anyone. I was three, which as you can imagine, was quite traumatizing.

Of course what I didn't know at the time was that this all stemmed from my mother's own experiences growing up in Spain with ultra-conservative parents and a 10 p.m. curfew up. Until she married a man for the sole purpose of getting out of her home. But I wouldn't find out till a decade later when I went home to Spain with her for the very first time.

I was thirteen-years-old and on a long flight when I got my period for the first time somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic in an airplane bathroom. My mom decided to announce it to everyone in business class. This is basically our relationship in a nutshell: She feels the need to share everything about me with everyone, at all times.

Naturally that led me to believe that she did the same with me about herself. Nope. Not even close.

Carla and her mom

photo: Carla Torres

Perpetually nosy and stuck at my tia's apartment, I decided to do what all teenagers do, go through grown-up stuff. I came across a few photo albums in a far closet corner. It never occurred to me that these memories had been tucked away on purpose.

I wondered why I had never seen these pictures of my mom. She was so young and so beautiful. And oh my god! She's in a wedding dress. I assumed it was my parents wedding day.

A few pages later, I found out this was not the day my parents got married, but rather the day my mom married some other dude. A dude who was not my dad. Then it got real.

I already knew love didn't last forever thanks to mommy dearest by this point. Call me naïve (a trait I have yet to shake off), but I thought my parents were each others first and only great love. They met, they fell hard, they got married and then they had me.

I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.

It went more like this: My mom married and divorced during a time in Spain when divorce was unheard of, only to get engaged and call wedding number two off before it actually happened. Then, she met my dad at a casino. They had separate apartments up until she got pregnant with me and they finally decided to tie the knot when I was 10. They really only got married because of the citizenship laws and to solidify the company they own together here.

The point is that I would have never known any of this had I not gone back to the place I was from. My parents taught me that true love was for movies and then showed me in an unprecedented plot twist that things are never what they seem. Love is complicated and messy and has nothing to do with wedding albums and white dresses.

But it's real, and until I find it, I'll never stop questioning everything. Maybe on my next trip home I'll find out I have siblings.