Greetings, Dearest Readers.
I’m going to be upfront and confirm your fears, this is going to be a post about Valentine’s Day. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This girl wrote a whole post dedicated to being a Crazy Cat Lady, so a Valentine’s post from her is just going to be a whole hot crock pot of crazy. I mean, I have ample reason. I haven’t had a date on Valentine’s day since I was a freshman in high school (that’s eight years, in case you were wondering). And I don’t even know if that really counts as a date, since neither I nor my boyfriend could drive, and our date consisted of us going to Bad Brad’s BBQ with my family and awkwardly holding hands under the table. Since then, I haven’t even been asked. Now, as Lizzie’s aunt says in Pride & Prejudice, “That savors strongly of bitterness.” But I am being perfectly, one hundred percent honest when I say that I LOVE VALENTINE’S DAY. Absolutely adore it. No matter how many pass boyfriendless, I never cease to enjoy them. Yesterday was no exception.
You might wonder why. Countless numbers of unattached people despise it, and grumble loudly about it being “Single’s Awareness Day” and a completely awful, commercial, joke of a holiday. That is certainly one way to look at it. But for me, Valentine’s Day is simply a day to celebrate love. Now, I am obsessed with love as a concept. Since I first began stumbling through little books on my own when I was three or four, I have always gravitated towards the ones with a prince and princess. Now, as an adult, I rarely (if ever) read books without a hero and a heroine who fall for each other. If I’m being honest, I pretty much read only romance novels. I think love is the most powerful, important, and beautiful force on this earth. I could go on for days about how much I love love.
I have a strong suspicion this is the reason I haven’t had a date on Valentine’s in eight years. I’ve been told more than once in my life that I’m too picky and my standards are impossibly high. I’ve seen people all around me happily dating a few or a lot of people as we’ve gotten older, yet year after year passes and I find myself always single. On one hand, this frustrates me, and I start thinking that people are right and I’m ridiculous; I should just go out with somebody to at least say I dated. It’s not like I haven’t liked guys, but it always seems they were never interested in me, or when I got to actually know them better I could never have imagined dating them. And there have been people interested in me at times, and I’m sure with some effort on my part that something might have possibly come of it. But that’s the thing- I’ve never wanted anything to come of it. I’m really shy around guys I’m interested in; I’m not confident and I’m afraid of embarrassing myself if they don’t like me back. So far, I’ve never found a person who made me brave enough to put myself out there. I also have this slight problem where, even if I like a guy initially, if he starts showing even the slightest sign of something that could possibly be interest, I get so freaked out that it literally makes my stomach hurt.
I don’t know where this excess of anxiety and nerves came from; my mom loves to tell stories about what a confident little flirt I used to be when I was younger. I remember in elementary and middle school “dating” a whole slew of “boyfriends.” I mean, of course they were nothing serious, but I don’t remember ever being particularly shy around boys when I was younger. In high school I had a lot of unrequited crushes, but I at least had two somewhat serious boyfriends (well, as serious as two relationships of three to four months each can be) when I was a freshmen and then the summer before my senior year. But somewhere between when I dated my last boyfriend at sixteen, to the current, single me at the age of twenty-one, something happened. Unfortunately, I think I know the culprit- puberty. The older I got, the more I recognized that being in a relationship with someone was actually something serious, that you have to dedicate time and effort to. And I also realized that the older I got, relationships tended to have repercussions and expectations. Suddenly, it was no longer just holding hands with a boy you see for a couple hours at school. It was real, and you had to actually trust someone to know you. And what if it was the wrong person?? It wasn’t like my romance novels, where I know the two are meant to be together and everything is going to turn out all right at the end. That’s one of my favorite things about romances, that guarantee of a happy ending. As I’ve aged, I have become something of a control freak; this has resulted in me being very cautious and, truthfully, something of a coward. Relationships in real life, with a glaring lack of a guarantee, were terrifying to me. I couldn’t stand the idea of making a mistake. The result of my years of reading is that I have a firm, unwavering belief in soulmates. I truly think that there is one person in the world who is exactly right for another person; that the characteristics of each perfectly complement the other and make them the best version of themselves they can be. What were the odds that the guy I randomly agreed to date would actually be that one person meant for me? The risk seemed unacceptable.
It’s still one of my deepest, most intense fears, that I’ll think I’ve found the right man and he ends up being wrong, and I have no desire to have a bunch of serious relationships before finally settling down. I want to fall in love, once, for real, and be happy with that person for the rest of my life. But I’m finally beginning to believe, just a little bit, that I could survive a failed relationship. I think that if I found someone who made me feel like they were worth the risk, I could be happy and not regret the relationship if it didn’t work out in the end. But until I find someone who actually makes me feel like he’s worth the effort, I am perfectly happy for Valentine’s to pass me by without even the hint of a special someone in my life. Better happy alone than unhappy in a relationship I’m in just for the sake of being in a relationship.
This is the reason why Valentine’s Day has evolved into something different for me than the traditional concept of a couple in love. For me, it’s a chance to celebrate the idea of love, in all its powerful glory. As the great F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, “There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” I think this is one of the most astute things I’ve ever heard said about the madness that is love. You can never love someone the same way, because no two people are exactly the same. While I believe in soulmates, I also believe that you can fall in love with someone who isn’t yours. It’s just a different kind of love. And for me, Valentine’s is about yet another type of love- the love I have for my family and friends. Valentine’s is just another chance for me to celebrate that, and to take the time to acknowledge and appreciate it. It’s also a day to remember to love myself; I always dress up on Valentine’s Day simply because it makes me feel good to do so. I spent a wonderful afternoon at work with my kids playing fun Valentine’s games and it reminded me how much I love my job and the kids I work with. Then I came home to eat dinner with my family. Along the way, I stopped and bought flowers for my mom and sister and my Nana. I also bought them some of their favorite candy, as well as my daddy (I would’ve bought him flowers, too, if I thought he wanted them). I think it was as enjoyable for me to give to them as it was for them to get it. When I got home, my mom has a rose and a sweet card waiting for me. My parents almost always get me something nice for Valentine’s Day, and it means a lot. We went to dinner and had a lovely time, and I came home and snuggled up with my darling cats.
My handsome Valentine since the age of 6.
My great point in all this, I guess, is Valentine’s is whatever you make of it. Loving your family, loving your friends, loving your pets, loving yourself, loving that special someone, or even loving love itself; whatever your choice, Valentine’s can be wonderful. The same thing can be applied to life itself. Every single day is what you make of it, whether a celebration or a day to grumpily consider how everyone around you is either engaged or having a baby (let’s be real here, this thought has certainly crossed my mind on plenty of Valentine’s Days, as well as just regular days). And with that thought, I imagine this picture describes perfectly how I’m going to be spending my Valentine’s Days:
Just imagine that guy as a woman, and it’s my future (cat dinner party, whaaaat!). Though, if Josh Hutcherson or Damian McGinty are reading this and needing a date for next Valentine’s, I am more than available. I’m sure the cats will be able to keep each other company.
Also, just a fun added note: I was awoken last night by the sound of Finn throwing up. When I went to clean it, I found perfectly whole stalks of some kind of plant. I began searching for a likely source, and finally discovered that Finn had gotten onto the dining table and eaten a large amount of leaves off the flowers my mom got for Valentine’s. There were a bunch of gnawed off nubs, still wet from Finn’s slobber. I moved the flowers to a place even Finn couldn’t get to, and learned a valuable lesson for all those future Valentine’s I’ll be spending with cats.
PS Italian was my choice for goodbye tonight, because it is considered one of the most romantic languages. “Con amore” means with “With love.”