I never really dated growing up. I always thought it was because I was the fat kid but recent clarity on looking back shows, I wasn’t all that fat. But I was shy and I was weird; I’m sure my story isn’t all that odd.
My first kiss was Truth or Dare at a band party in seventh grade and my first real kiss was backstage at the children’s theatre I spent all of my free time at until I moved away from it. My theatre friends and I all flirted and played around but it was never serious. I tried the best I could to date a guy I met at my friend’s Quinceañera but he was a bit old for me and, thankfully, called it off before it turned into something it shouldn’t have been.
The only “boyfriend” I had in high school was a guy named Justin. For two weeks, I sat with him at lunch and watched him play Magic: The Gathering. We kissed and he told me about his cats and his knives and, upon the realization that he loved them both equally, I called it off when I realized we didn’t have that much in common.
And thus, I was left to bemoan my existence, like so many do, on every Valentine’s Day. It was at that time, back in the days before Facebook, when I still didn’t know what an Internet Browser was and thought the only grand portal to the World Wide Web was America On-Line, I would sit down and write a letter to all of my single friends.
I asked them all to join me in my loneliness, to join my Lonely Hearts Club (which I thought was truly original and ingeniously derived from a certain Beatles album) and eat garlicky food and read melodramatic poetic quotes with me on Valentine’s Day. I sorely wish I still had these so I could quote some to you.
It was around that time that I needed love too because, when I was sixteen, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. My world was set askew and amidst all this, still trying to be a kid, my friend and I had a long conversation about what love meant. (I had said “love ya'” when hanging up the phone or saying bye and he really questioned whether or not I meant it. And, true to who I am, I took him far more seriously than he had bargained for.)
Since then, I make an effort to tell everyone I love that I love them. Chances are, if I count you as a friend, I do love you. Because love is for sharing, not hiding away and later wishing you could tell someone you loved them just one more time or at all.
But look, I’m older (we all are) and all day I’ve seen people post to Facebook about the triteness of the holiday and how stressed out they are. And I’ll admit, since officially entering my later-twenties (I know, smallest violin moment here) I’ve become a bit more reserved about telling people I love them. Those same social rules and regulations that tell us that THIS is the ONE day to share love have also told me to hold back fro sake of seeming too weird.
And I have to admit, I still feel like whipping together a new version of my old email. Even though I’m engaged, that long-suffering single girl who wants to throw her arms open to the world is still in my heart, and honestly, I hate some of these traditions as much as the next person.
Every gift-giving-day that Daniel and I have been together though has ultimately been tackled by the keystone that always saves our relationship and makes it as awesome as it is: conversation. We decide in advance, no matter how un-romantic it may seem, what the holiday is going to mean to us this year. What we can afford, what we want, and what we’re going to do is always arrived at after we talk to each other openly and honestly. And while it might not yield too many surprises, it never looks much like the head-banging-anxiety portion of this:
Instead, it looks a bit more like this:
Just a couple of best friends learning how to grow old together.
And that’s how I view Daniel, more than a boyfriend, a fiance, or whatever, is my best friend. So, if you don’t have a significant other in your life, I suggest you look to your friends because as much as Valentine’s Day is now about my relationship with him, in the past it was so very much about my relationships with all the special people who made each day a little better and a little easier. Mostly, it still is.
I may not be a relationship expert or be saying something you haven’t heard anywhere else, but I’m always a big fan of love and spreading it around.
You know, if it’s welcome 🙂