I am a complex woman. Let’s just start there. There are days when I totally feel like I missed that day at school where they taught you how to be a girl (and we’ll get to that in the future). But I am a damn good cook, I love to decorate my house and I have enough necklaces to choke me and the next 20 some-odd people. That said, there is one part of “girl-dom” that seems to be lacking in me – and that is the romance gene.
That’s not to say I don’t love love. I do! I love it a lot. Like a lot a lot! You want to sweep me off my feet? Hold my hand and rub your thumb against mine. That’s damn near like Spanish Fly to me. But huge overt gestures of love? Mostly they make me uncomfortable and self-conscious. Bring me flowers on a random Tuesday just because you know I love tulips? Fabulous! You’ll melt my heart. Bring me an overdone bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day and honestly, I’m going to be annoyed.
Now let me explain why.
I grew up in the 70s and early 80s, a time when in the first weeks of February, you would go to the drug store and pick out some cartoon themed box of cards, sign everyone’s name on them and then hand them out on February 14th or the closest school day to it. And it just felt very flat to me. This wasn’t about expressing love, it was about completing some ritual that seemed to be expected by all. I was a young Valentine’s Day cynic, to be sure.
Then we move forward in time to high school and college. I am the very classic model of the “best friend”. While I feel like I’ve finally come into my own a bit at the ripe old age of 41, in my teens and 20s, I was that character in the movie who got her best friend ready for a date with the big man on campus (or in our case, the slightly nerdy good guy who wound up becoming her husband) and then I went home to watch reruns on TV or watch sappy movies. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I actually had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and I thought “WOW! This will be it! Now I’ll get to experience all of the things that my friends have lived and breathed!” And then it came and went and I still just didn’t get it. Not to say he didn’t make an effort, he did. Not to say I didn’t feel loved, I did. But it felt hollow. It felt fake. It felt manufactured.
Once I was married, I was very clear with my husband (now ex, actually) that I was not a believer in Valentine’s Day. And for a while, I felt like I was ruining some of his fun but I also didn’t want some overly contrived version of love. I wanted something sincere and spontaneous because it occurred to him. Plus February was already busy in our house – his birthday was early February and our wedding anniversary was late February and it just felt silly. I realized at some point in my mid-30s that I got to decide what days held meaning and what didn’t and Valentine’s Day was never going to make the list.
So I have tried to be clear with those around me that I just don’t care. My 2nd husband never got it (which may be part of why he is also an ex). He would give me a stuffed animal and candy every Valentine’s Day. And it just served as another reminder of the fact that he just didn’t get me. Last year when I was dating someone, I was clear with him that I didn’t want to “do Valentine’s Day” and he mostly paid attention. I made us a nice dinner and we stayed in and it was lovely because it felt like good time for us to spend together and not some manufactured expectation of reality.
The older I get, the more sincere I want everything in my life to be. I want real and true friendships. I want real relationships. I want real and true declarations of affection and love. I have friends with whom I end every phone call with an “I love you.” I have friends I greet always with a hug and a kiss. I have people with whom a simple shared smile expresses everything that we mean to each other. Moments like those will always mean more to me than sending me a dozen, ridiculously overpriced roses on Valentine’s Day.
So with that – don’t wish me Valentine’s Day. Call me on a random Wednesday to tell me you were thinking of me. Send me a text after an important event to check in to see how it went. Hell, call me on being a jerk when I am being one. To me those are the best expressions of love in a world that could use a whole lot more real and sincere love.
I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).
I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.
If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.