Oh, February. You are out here doing the absolute most every year.
I am deeply in love with a man, and even I am like, okay that’s enough, America! Have some chill!
Good reader, I am a Valentine’s Day vagabond. I spent 26 years as a Valentine Wife married to a serious gift giver, so I experienced all the razzle dazzle capitalism had to offer. Then I was a Divorced Valentine who literally went to a fancy V-day dinner with my three best friends and their husbands; table of seven, coming in hot. Last year, I was a brand new shiny Valentine Girlfriend, and I was swoony and insufferable and bought my boyfriend leather luggage so we could “take adventures together” (bless my heart). I have occupied three different categories the last three years, so I’ve been all over the place.
What’s my conclusion?
Well, it’s a lot of fuss, and the commercials are being pretty melodramatic. Even the partnered people are in crowded restaurants with overpriced prix fixe menus, and at least one of them is wearing uncomfortable shoes. There is pressure to nail *the perfect* Valentine gift, which is a whole thing. The day is supposed to be romantic, but some folks are just not at all romantic, so they already failed the formula just by being born unsentimental. Expectations are high and inflated, so the fall from such heights is especially disappointing.
I know, I know. I’m really not a Valentine Grinch. There are outrageous displays of devotion and grand gestures of passion. A precious person will give their beloved a handwritten “favorite moments from the year with you” notebook, and some couple will get engaged on a snowy mountain or I’m a monkey’s uncle. It can be sooooo sweeeeet, and love can be celebrated, and romance isn’t dead. I know.
I’m simply suggesting that an invented holiday that idolizes a very narrow type of romantic love leaves most normal people in the lurch, because love is a real wild stallion and rarely trots nicely in the pen. It is so disparate and varied, and the preferred template fits around 4% of us.
There has to be a broader way to celebrate love that makes sense for more of us. May I suggest a few tweaks? What about these:
Happy Valentine’s Day to my guy because I lost my shit last week when you ate my leftover curry but you remembered I was in a real tizzy from that god-awful call with my mom and so you ordered me more curry and folded the towels in the dryer. Let’s have sex tonight but not after 9:30pm.
Happy Valentine’s Day to us, because none of our kids have dropped out of school yet and it’s fun to laugh about the weird crystals they wear behind their backs. They are medium to above average except that one. We’re nailing this.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my partner because without you, I wouldn’t know anyone’s social security number, where we keep the batteries, what our health care deductible is, or any of our kids’ teachers. Thanks for knowing everything.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my besties, because upon my death, I can count on you to delete my secret folder of problematic screenshots, pluck my chin hairs, empty my side drawer, and eulogize the shit out of me at my funeral. If any of my enemies show up at my wake, you know what to do.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my sisters, because you are the keepers of the most important memories like how we made mom and dad turn off Magnum P.I. so they could properly watch “our program” we’d been working on for hours. If they’d had cell phones and Instagram, they would have secretly posted that theatrical tragedy like we do now.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my kid’s teacher, because when I think about pulling off your job, I want to shove my head through a plate glass window. I know my kid is an asshole sometimes, and I’m sorry he told everyone Santa wasn’t real. Please accept this case of wine. You are going straight to heaven.
Happy Valentine’s Day to my kids, because you didn’t ask to be born into this chaotic family. I’m sorry we’re like this, but to be fair, our parents started it. At least you are really, really cute, and sometimes it is what’s on the outside that counts. Jot that down.
Happy Valentine’s Day to myself, because I wore hard pants with buttons twice this week. Look at me! Being hot with buttoned pants out in this harsh world! What’s next? Lower lash mascara?? What a queen.
I’m just saying real life is the lead story for most of us, and we’d do well to celebrate the little moments, the sticking around when things are messy, the commitment to life even when it is boring and obnoxious and smudged. Are our spouses and partners and boyfriends and girlfriends our Valentines? If you have one of those, of course they are. These people have sex with us. But so are our parents and sibs and kiddos and best friends and neighbors and favorite cousins and work wives. Love is gorgeous in a million ways.
So if you are a grand gesture type, go absolutely buck wild this month, dear one. Do the most. And if you’re not, do the most medium. Love still counts in all the ways you experience it and give it. It is located inside romance, family, community, neighborhoods, parenthood, friendships, anywhere, everywhere. It can be giant and grand and over the top, and it can also be sweet and small and simple. You can give it as easily as receive it, so don’t get hung up waiting around.
So a heartfelt “Happy Valentine’s Day or whatever” from me. I sure love you. I see you in your hard pants. Deep bow, super star.