It's Valentine's Day. The day of the Lonely Hearts Club. The day where men are expected to buy lavish gifts for their beloved in order to show how in love they are. The day people without mates are poignantly aware that they're alone and people with mates are comparing spoils to see who is really loved the most. Forgive me while I scoff a little over here.
I mean, it was a fun day as a kid. Everyone came to school hopped up on heart shaped tums dressed in their best collection of pink, red, and hearts. You handed out little cards, enough for everyone in the class. Props went to those who were creative or who included yet more candy. It was cool.
Then middle school came and festivities were less equal as puppy love emerged. We had a dance every year which meant we got out of a couple classes and got to segregate into our cliques for an hour or so. Some girls got flowers or balloons, but really it was just the girls who put out. So it was cool.
Then high school. Relationships emerged, crushes became evident, and Valentine's Day changed. Suddenly it was about the haves and have nots. Not gonna lie...Valentine's Day came and went in 10th grade with no special gift from that special someone (that special someone who called my house the next year leaving a message on my answering machine confessing his undying love for me, whom later spent some time living as transgendered, whom is now an openly gay man). I was jilted. Valentine's Day that year was also a dear friend's 10th birthday....the last birthday she would celebrate. November of that year took away my "little sissy" and I became even more jaded about Valentine's Day.
My junior year of high school I had my first "real" boyfriend (whatever that means). We'd started dating before my friend passed away so he knew I was totally not looking forward to February 14th, when she should have been celebrating her 11th birthday. I begged that we ignore the day and let it pass like any other. I spent the day in tears, my heart ripped out of my chest. I was 16 and dealing with the first death of someone close to me (that was not a great grandparent). He showed up at my house that evening with 18 beautiful roses and a gold bracelet. You might think I'd be happy about that. But really, it just made me awkwardly uncomfortable. I'm not one for lavish gifts to begin with, but especially when I was so heartbroken. I tried my best to smile and be grateful, but really, I just wanted the day to fade into oblivion.
The years that followed I always had a boyfriend, it seemed. The three subsequent Valentine's Days were spent with someone who, while basically a D-bag, actually understood that I didn't want to celebrate. He'd lost his sister when she was young and her birthday hurt...so he got it. After him I (briefly) dated this guy who didn't believe me that I didn't want to celebrate the day. He made LAVISH plans...I mean, reservations at the swankiest place in town, plus planned to book tickets for the special sunset tour of the lighthouse, and who knows what else. If I'd let him, he'd have dropped several hundred dollars. We'd been dating MAYBE a month. But, it turned out that my friend gave birth that day. I left town to meet the baby. The day lost some of it's sting with this new little life.
Then I met Hubby. He was great. He got that love was meant to be showed at times other than JUST Valentine's Day. He just got "it." Guess that's why he made the cut and got to stay around. Our first Valentine's Day together I was still away at school in a mad rush to finish my undergrad thesis. I didn't have time for distractions and being 4hrs away made things difficult anyway. When we spent our first Valentine's Day ACTUALLY together, our relationship had been well proven and neither of us felt the need to make a big deal out of the day. Who wants to eat overpriced food in an overly crowded restaurant anyway?!
The first Valentine's Day we spent as a married couple was one of the hardest times of my life. Hubby had to have some crazy intense surgery a few days before and long story short...I spent the day figuratively holding his hair back and worrying that all the throwing up meant dangerous complications of the surgery. I got instructions on how to insert an anti-nausea suppository to save my poor husband from the very large, male nurse's gorilla hands. By the time he was finally resting easy for the first time all day, MIL arrived with Taco Bell for me...at 8:00pm...the first I'd eaten all day. She sat with him as I collapsed in the hall of the hospital and cried into my soft taco.
So forgive me if I'm a cynic. I just don't get it. Last week I had a bad day. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was coming down with a cold. The kids were driving me bonkers, and I was just spent. Hubby cancelled his overtime, picked up a modest and lovely bouquet from the grocery store, came home and cooked dinner for us. THAT, my friends, is love. THAT means a million times more to me than an over priced dinner, WAY over priced flowers, and a card that will get thrown away or shoved in a drawer all because the calendar reads February 14th.
Oh and for those of you pouring out your gooey, undying love for your partner on Facebook today...please don't...it just makes us all a little uncomfortable.