I always hated Valentine’s Day and thought it was stupid. For eight-plus years, until the spring-ish of 2013, I was in a committed relationship, living with my partner and our pets, doing the things that couples do, including deriding Valentine’s Day because we were supercilious New Yorker readers who didn’t have time for invented commercial holidays that took advantage of American naiveté and willingness to spend $75 on a bouquet of roses that would die within a week. (I don’t know shit about keeping roses.) Were we insufferable about Valentine’s Day? Maybe so.
My resistance was also due to that fact that up until 2004, when she stopped eating because she was sick of life, my grandmother, who I loved, would call each year and ask me to be her Valentine. And I always asked back, and we were each other’s Valentines. There was a sweetness about it that wasn’t much seen out of her. She was the kind of woman who was often annoyed and impatient with people (particularly when they were slow at mah-jongg), and would say, at such moments, “That really burns my ass!” So to be that woman’s Valentine, well, it was special.
I did not understand the heartbreak of the single people I knew who would tear up at the sight of reflective heart-shaped balloons for sale or at the reminder of a co-worker’s special Valentine’s dinner at Villa di Roma. “It’s all bullshit,” I would say. “I would LOVE to have a night to myself. Get a pint of ice cream, put on a good movie, and be your own Valentine!” Was I insufferable to single people about Valentine’s Day? Maybe so.
Now I live alone. I like it. I really do. But this Valentine’s Day thing…our culture is so insistent upon it. Google has audio snippets from “This American Life,” which I enjoyed. Someone at the office brought in heart-shaped donuts, which I enjoyed. A freelancer submitted a Valentine’s Day post, which I hope all my readers will enjoy. But now that I’m just casually dating or whatever-whatever, and not in a relationship, fucking Valentine’s Day is EVERYWHERE. And you know what? I actually feel left out. My intellect is disgusted by my sadness, but my heart is all, “This. Is. Shitty.” I apologize, single people, for my years of stupid comments. If it’s any consolation, I retroactively hate myself for them.
So yeah. It’s the first Valentine’s Day without these guys, with whom I probably would have binge-watched two seasons of Deadwood and then gone to sleep. And that would have been a perfect Valentine’s Day, and it would have commemorated it, in some way, even if we weren’t COMMEMORATING it — even if were, in fact, UN-commemorating it.
No regrets for how things worked out. I’m where I want to be. But I just want to say this: If you do have someone with whom to share American commercialism and forced romance, but are resisting because of your solid progressive values and/or because you take your being coupled for granted, let that resistance go. Summon your inner Peabo Bryson, and celebrate your love. Valentine’s Day is not the worst thing, you know? Enjoy it.