Valentine's Day sneaks up on you. You know when it's January, and you're like sure, Valentine's Day is next month, whatever, I don't care. I'm too busy focusing on Day 17 of these New Year's Resolutions. And then all of a sudden, your left third finger starts to feel weird. You notice that it's....empty. Bare. Ugly. Dull. Then subtly, all the commercials you see remind you that there is ALWAYS a perfectly awkward moment for an above average looking guy to hand you a piece of jewelry with a corny line. And then you find yourself developing a craving for chocolate, but ONLY chocolate being sold in heart-shaped boxes from the drug store, that likely is literally the same stuff from last year. Like, the same box. We could probably carbon-date it.....and then woah, it's Valentine's Day. Couples are atwitter with the buzz of dinner plans. Ice-skating rinks, dimly-lit restaurants, horse-drawn carriages, and beaches prepare themselves to be inundated with the happily paired-off. Flowers shake down to their very roots, preparing themselves to be slaughtered in the name of a rose petal paths or bouquets. iTunes sees a 600% increase in the purchase of sappy slow songs (okay, I just made up that statistic, but I'm sure something along those lines is probably true). Enough candles to challenge the supposed power-outage of Y2K are lit to give the proper amount of mood. Ready, set, action: Valentine's Day is here.
Valentine's Day can go one of a thousand directions each year. When you're little, you fill out 30 Valentines for you and your classmates, and are mostly just excited for 7 school hours filled with unlimited amounts of candy (this day falling second to Halloween, of course, where you get to wear a totally awesome costume too). As you get older, you still are excited for the diabetic tendencies of the school day, but you're a little nervous, a little anxious, a little hopeful. Maybe that special person has been waiting until today to buff up his braces and admit his love for you. Maybe that girl who's been coyly giving you 'The Eyes' from her locker will be bold enough to say something on this most special of days. Valentine's Day is the holiday version of alcohol: both give you transient, strong, and temporary confidence. Then you get older, and Valentine's Day can become that obligatory holiday where people ask the couples, "oh, what do you guys have planned for Valentine's Day?" and then said couple is subsequently judged and ostracized if they don't have plans for dinner, fireworks, edible body oils, AND a parade of puppies. Fast forward to the other side of the spectrum, with stereotypical images of single men not even remembering this most holy of Hallmark days, while single women hide at home in sweatpants, proclaiming loudly over bottomless glasses of wine 'I DON'T EVEN CARE. I AM A SINGLE LADY AND IF HE LIKED IT THEN HE SHOULD HAVE PUT A RING ON IT, OKAY? I'M DATING BEN AND JERRY NOW".
Valentine's Day as a kid paves a long road for the future. One of the sweetest Valentine's Day I've ever had was in 7th grade, when one of the more quiet nerds in my class boldly bought every girl a rose and wrote on the card "Happy Valentine's Day, beautiful". Considering how I was several thousand feet into the pit of awkwardness that is being a 13 year old girl (blessed with the unholy trinity of braces, unsteady makeup application, and baby fat), I appreciated someone casting a vaguely romantic gesture my way. While this past Valentine's Day was definitely my best yet, I have to say that I have learned through a parade of single Valentine's Days' that although the holiday is typically designated for Official Couple Who Are In Love, Valentine's Day is also a day for little kids to receive extra hugs and kisses from their parents. And for friends of all ages and genders and preferences to get together. For colleagues to bake brownies, for teachers to hand out little notes to their students, and for friends to text their best friends just to say 'hey, I love you'. It's a day for sugar, sappy movies, plush stuffed animals, and hope. While I can appreciate the couple-tastic nature of the holiday, I think maybe there should be a reminder too that it's a day for all types of love, not just that between two people. So if Valentine's Day got you down for not having your soulmate just yet, or maybe it wasn't full of the fireworks you were hoping for, just remember: "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." (Love Actually). :D