I am about up to my eye teeth with pink and red and hearts and cupids. I think we all are. Ironic that a "holiday" designed for love generates such negative feelings. All the tweets I follow are sick of it. Why is our response so violently in the opposite direction?
Is it because we don't want to fall prey, again, to the machinations of capitalistic America, buying more and buying into a day to spend, spend, spend.
Is it because some of us once had a break up or a bad date or a bad gift on this most lovely of loving days?
Or is it because really, we seriously just had Christmas, and New Years and can we just move along for a while without being forced to celebrate something else.
For me the issue is rather complex. I used to love Valentine's Day, when I was young and dumb and sincerely thought that the ripple chested Lothario from the cover of the Harlequin was going to ring that bell, and find me gorgeous and never would I look back. Over the years that turned to cynical outrage at consumer manipulation and of course, the implication that if you were alone, well, you were...alone. Who wants that?
Despite my ambivalence, and present day laissez faire attitude, I do, however, remember distinctly two very different Valentine's days.
High school found me angry and struggling. And hopelessly crushing on a boy up the street. I like to think he is responsible for this memory but I will never know.
The doorbell rang; it was dark in our front yard, late at night and cold. I remember opening the big door and seeing frost on the screen door, the porch light shining into my face. I was confused. My siblings and I were home alone and we were not expecting anyone. No one was there. Straight out of a movie. I wondered if I'd really heard the bell. But my sister was behind me, so she had heard it too. She stayed with me as we opened the door.
Lying on the welcome mat was a huge bunch of flowers wrapped in green tissue. The card had my name on it. We peered from the porch into the winter night. We knew all our neighbors and we knew where to hide when ringing and running so we looked off to the pine trees to the left, round the frozen hydrangeas to the right. Nobody. Nothing. We even looked for footsteps in the frost. It's okay to roll your eyes; I am as I remember.
Inside we opened the card, giddy schoolgirls that we were. It read, "from your secret admirer." We did not recognize the handwriting. I blushed. I'm blushing now. I looked for clues from the cute boy up the street the next day. Nothing. Talked to my friends. Nothing. I never found out who sent the flowers. A part of me wonders if my dad did it, because he knew I needed a little boost. Part of me hoped, and still hopes, that it was the cute boy from up the street.
In college, I found myself, finally, blissfully, in a serious relationship. I had thought it would never happen. And I conveniently wanted to fall back into that rosy tinted glory of February 14th. I expected flowers, a gift, a card, a dinner, a something. A something big and special, outrageous even. Here is what expectations typically get you: disappointment.
I got a heaping pile o' nothing. That's right. Not even a comment. I got him a gift. National Geographic. I know.
After a little fight, (okay it was more than little), and a lot of talk, the situation resolved. Enough that I married that boy. He is not a Lothario from the cover of a romance. He is my husband, imperfect and wonderful. His position is thus, "Why should today be any different? You know I love you because I tell you and show you everyday." And he does. He also makes me mad on a regular basis but that's what humans do.
So, really, I don't need a box of chocolates, or a stuffed animal (really not that). I need what I get everyday from him. Love, affection, companionship, trust, smiles...the real stuff of what makes us us.