Showing Up on Valentines
I’ve loved Valentine’s Day for as long as I can remember. In fact, it’s my favorite holiday. When I think of February 14th I’m reminded of all the years I spent carefully cutting out pink paper hearts to give to everyone I loved. It reminds me of cupcakes, chalky candies, and notes left in people’s pockets and cars. I’ve celebrated with my friends, with my mom, with total strangers in line at Starbucks.
For me, Valentine’s is an opportunity to be everything we should be anyway: kind, loving, affectionate, expressive of how we feel.
When I say I love Valentine’s many people ask me if I’m being sarcastic or ironic. If my annual Valentine’s brunch is actually an Anti-Vday celebration. The answer is no. Even though I’ve been single for the majority of my Valentine’s, I was raised by Rom-Coms and Nicholas Sparks’ Novels. I’m a hopeless romantic to the core. Above almost everything else, I believe in love.
Last year was the first year I celebrated the holiday with a serious, long-term partner. He spent three hours designing (and agonizing over) a custom-made stamp I could use for my letter-writing hobby. He handed me the gift in a brown paper bag on the day he received it, too excited to wrap it.
It was possibly the most-thoughtful gift I had ever received, and I had received thoughtful gifts before, mix tapes with my favorite songs, birthday videos made abroad, but this was different. It was different because we were dating. He was my boyfriend, a term I had never used before, a word that honestly, still feels a little foreign on my tongue.
I was so moved by the gesture, that someone, my boyfriend, had put that amount of time and energy into picking out a gift. And even though he ultimately wasn’t the right person for me, it gave me a glimpse into how healthy and caring a relationship could be, what it looks like when someone shows up for you.
I am single this Valentine’s Day. No one is going to make me a custom stamp or buy me flowers.
I could feel sad about this, and maybe I do a little, but more than anything I feel grateful for the amount of love I have in my life. People who show up for me consistently, again and again. People who have both picked me up at the airport at 4am with doughnuts and coffee. People who bought this newsletter and read sample chapters of my book. People who came to parties and played countless rounds of Mafia because they knew how much showing up means to me. I am excited to celebrate this, and these people, with gold glitter and cheesy hearts.
I’ve heard all the arguments against Valentine’s. That’s it’s a commercialized Hallmark Holiday designed by card companies to make money. “You shouldn’t need a holiday to tell someone you love them,” they’ll say. I agree, wholeheartedly. We should all openly and vulnerably express our love daily. But we’re human and we’re scared of being that vulnerable and open. We’re scared that we’ll serve our heart on a platter and someone will look at it and say, “not for me.” And somehow that will mean something about us and our ability to be loved. So if we need someone else’s words on a card on a designated day to express how we feel. You know what. I’m ok with that.
Other people hate Valentine’s because they see it as another reminder that they haven’t found their person yet, that they, like me this year, have to buy themselves flowers. I understand how crippling and damaging loneliness can be. I’ve spent the majority of my life sleeping alone… but I wonder if we could rewrite the narrative of Valentine’s. It’s not a day for couples, it’s a day for love. It’s a day to show up for someone, your friend, your mom, hell, your dog. It’s a day to show up and say, “I’m here. I accept you. My love is not conditional.” And if you want to use chocolates, flowers, and candies to sweeten the message, I think that’s a great idea.
So to conclude, and I say this will all honesty since this newsletter isn’t so big yet and I know you all personally:
I’m here and love is not conditional.
Will you be my Valentine?