I don't think I've ever had a good Valentine's Day.
You'd think that since I entered 4 of the last 9 Januaries in a relationship, that would have a decent chance at producing some good Valentine's Days. It turns out, however, that what it's actually good at is producing three Valentine's Days following recent breakups.
The other of those four years was 1996, and I had just turned 14. I don't remember all the details. The highlights were that I had just received 24 flowers from Rich. You would think that this would be an incredibly sweet gesture that would melt your heart, but you are not a 14-year-old Britt. No, I was simply embarassed and uncomfortable. The flowers were being sold for some fundraiser-- I think they were carnations-- and they would bring them to your homeroom and everyone would ooh and ahh at the girls who had received a flower. *A* flower. Or maybe two. Me? I got 24. And people would talk to me about it all day, and I would blush and fidget. Sure, it sounds good in retrospect, but at the time I definitely wasn't happy. I think I told Rich something along the lines of, "Flowers are a silly gift anyway. I'd rather have chocolate."
Sweet and grateful of me, huh? But it wasn't until the following January that he broke up with me.
9 years, I said, didn't I? It doesn't really make any sense to count in any of the years before junior high. It's still odd to realize how long ago seventh grade was. But anyhow...
That first Valentine's Day was an interesting one, too. It also involved flowers from Rich. (Honestly, it's possible that it was '95, before we were dating, that he gave me the 24 flowers. I just remember flowers and being overwhelmed and embarassed both times.) Have I ever told you the story of how Rich asked me out in December and I didn't give him an answer until April? Remind me sometime. But in any event, this was the Valentine's Day that fell right in the middle of that span.
Then there were the others. 1997 was right after Rich and I broke up. At the beginning of February 1998, I broke up with Shawn. As you can imagine, neither of these were terribly cheery.
1999 and 2000 were of course fun, lonely years in which I imagined boldly declaring my love (okay, this is me, so writing a letter) to the crush of the moment on Valentine's Day, but instead kept my mouth shut and went home and felt anguished and lonely and unloved, feeling like every passing year of being single somehow made it that much more likely that even more years of being alone were in my future.
2001 was a lot like 1995 in some ways, which is really sad, considering I was 19 instead of 13. By Valentine's Day, Alex had had a crush on me for at least a month, and (since, while I love the boy dearly, I can't claim subtlety is his strongest suit) I had known for a while. So when when he IMed me on Valentine's Day and asked if he could come up and we could talk, I thought, "Oh no! He's going to come ask me out! What do I do?" I in fact stalled, ran over to talk to some of my friends for advice, and finally felt I'd prepared myself for him to come up. Of course, all he did was give me a flower and wish me a Happy Valentine's Day-- the asking out wasn't going to come until later. In the meantime, I was still wrapped up in my own little crushes, managing to actually write and deliver a letter to the guy of the moment this time. Of course, the letter revealed nothing, and was utterly casual, if I recall correctly. But I had still managed to write a letter to a crush on Valentine's Day, and was proud of myself.
Of course, nothing ever came of that, and Alex and I were together by May. But come February, we'd broken up. (This one was even closer, 9 February, I believe. I swear, there's going to be a breakup on February 13th in my future, I can feel it.) That was last year, and for a number of different reasons, it was an incredibly lousy Valentine's Day. I'm pretty sure I recall crying myself to sleep.
Which brings us up to today. I'd like to say that at the mature age of twenty-one, I've learned that it's fine to be single, and you can be happy on your own, and you shouldn't let any arbitrary day in the middle of February bother you. That's true. It's not the whole truth, though. The truth is that I feel sad, and very single, and jealous of happy people in love. I'm single on Valentine's Day, what do you expect? I may have grown from the teenager I was, but Valentine's Day hasn't stopped affecting me, not yet.
Part of why it's getting to me, I suspect, is that I'm starting to feel quite certain that I'm not going to be in another relationship until after I graduate. It seems logical. I date people who I'm friends with first, and I don't envision changing that. I have three friends who are guys, all of whom I care an awful lot about, but I'm pretty damn sure I'm not going to end up dating any of them in the future. If we rule those out, well, that would require making another male friend. But I'm really awful at making friends through student groups; I tend to be really awkward in groups that I enter that existed prior to me joining. So that leaves the dorm, which is where I've met all my friends. But I'm not going to be living in the dorm next year. Hence, not only am I single this year, but things are not looking good for next year, either.
That doesn't bother me half as much as I'd think it would. I really don't mind being single on most days. I honestly do feel pretty damn self-contained, and if I go another whole year-and-a-half plus without being in a relationship, that's fine. If I have good friends and am living my life the way I want to, I shouldn't need anything else. I don't feel incomplete, like I need anyone else to make me who I want to be. I'm really almost disturbingly indifferent.
So, this is far from the worst Valentine's Day I've had. I don't feel bad about myself today, which I think may make me 1 for 9. Sure, I feel sad and jealous and, yes, a little bitter, but it doesn't run too deep. I think I'm going to manage to let it mostly roll off my back, and move on to 15 February.
But this still certainly doesn't fall into the category of "a good Valentine's Day," that elusive thing that I cynically feel like I'm never, ever going to experience. I just want to be loved and appreciated and treated and spoiled by someone who I want to be loved and appreciated and treated and spoiled by, to celebrate love on a day that can be pretty damn real and meaningful and special, despite capitalist commercialism. Instead, I think I'm just kinda doomed, and I can't talk myself into actually believing that a day like that will ever come for me.
14 February, 2003
Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002