When I think of a Valentine, I think of a nice dinner, wine, maybe even a box of chocolates. And, when I put it that way, I can quickly tell you that I’ve never had a Valentine.
But when I stop being so goddamn bitter, I know that’s not the entire truth.
As a child, Valentine’s Day was a great excuse to host a classroom party that involved “mailboxes” crafted from white paper bags, Valentine-card collections that came in sets of 24, and sugar cookies with pink icing.
Now, that’s a party.
At one of these parties, I received my first special Valentine from a boy named Dustin. It was a small, white teddy bear, decorated with shiny red hearts on his paws. I was embarrassed.
In the years following—call it Karma—I didn’t get any special Valentines.
Exactly four years ago, I had a serious boyfriend for the first time during Valentine’s Day. The holiday coincided with Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, where he lived. I hoped that we could order a (heart-shaped) pizza, get some beer, and see the parades that weekend.
The thought of getting some solid hours with my man was better than any fancy dinner I could dream up. I packed an overnight bag and I baked a batch of red velvet cupcakes to bring along.
But he never called.
And so, I sat on my living room floor that Friday night, watching the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics. I shoved one cupcake down my throat at a time, feeling the cream cheese frosting on my tongue, as tears rolled down my cheeks.
Actual Valentine’s Day that year fell on a Sunday. On that day, I found myself in the mechanic section of Walmart, buying new tires for my Explorer. As I waited, I watched men pass me, carrying red gift bags.
“I don’t know why I did that to you,” my boyfriend told me later.
The following year, we were still together. After the previous disaster, I didn’t even want to mention Valentine’s Day. But that night, we sat side by side on the back steps of his home.
We drank red wine from an oversized bottle until I thought it was a good idea to try and climb the privacy fence in order to check out his neighbor’s sugar kettle. I wasn’t successful.
When I woke up next to my then-boyfriend (my then-love), I remembered something that I had in my purse: chocolate covered fortune cookies. I retrieved them, and we ate them in bed before he made us a proper breakfast of cinnamon raisin toast—a favorite.
It was, and still remains to be, a set of hours I hold dear.
The following year, I only had one man in my life: John Mayer. He was oh-so-kind-and sent me a vase of beautiful flowers right to my office.
And last year, my mom sent me flowers, along with all kinds of chocolate goodies. I treated myself to the heart-shaped pizza that I never got. I also took myself to go see a movie.
All of those decisions were great, except for the one I made when I texted D—the text message that started our entire (horrible) relationship.
It’s really hard for me to understand that it’s been a year since all of that began. But at the same time, I can’t help but really think about the headspace I was in a year ago.
What a difference it is.
And this Valentine’s Day? While I do not have a traditional Valentine in my life, I know there is love.
And for the first time, at least in a long time, I feel like things are good.
The shitty thing about being single on Valentine’s Day, is that you’re supposed to have an opinion about Valentine’s Day.
So here’s mine: Screw. You.
I’m reminded every day that I’m single, you know, when I wakeup alone, when my phone never gets any text messages, and when I realize that I’m not annoyed 24/7—yep, I’m single!
I actually enjoy being single, especially lately, however this holiday that is so exclusive, makes me feel like I’m without.
And so, that survival guide…
- Avoid scenes like this:
Oh, did I just make it worse? It’s never fun to do your regular grocery shopping and find yourself lost in what I like to call, “The Aisle of Red.” Maybe it doesn’t bother you, but unless you’re planning on buying yourself a pound of heart-shaped chocolates, I suggest you order takeout until February 15.
- Steer clear of all things red. Either you’re in or you’re out when it comes to Valentine’s Day. So, either avoid everything associated with the holiday…
- Or…get obsessed with it. If you can handle sitting amongst the couples this Friday, whether it’s at a restaurant or a movie, go for it. Throw on a hot pink shirt and go out like you mean it. Or stay inside and sleep until this awful holiday is past us.
- Do you. Ultimately, I try not to say things like “Do You,” because aren’t we always doing that? But, I’ve found that on a day like February 14th, it’s best to do whatever you want. Want to wear all black with your middle finger up? Do you. Want to bake pink cupcakes for your coworkers and wear an entirely red outfit? Do you.
Last year was the first year I really abided by that last rule. I ordered myself a pizza, lit my digital fireplace, had some wine, and relaxed. And it was definitely the best Valentine’s Day I’d had in awhile.
So, take this Valentine’s Day as a chance to remind yourself just how awesome you are—you don’t need to be in a relationship to recognize that fact. Besides, if you WERE in a relationship, you’d probably get something dumb, like:
For what it’s worth, happy Valentine’s Day!
I was in first grade, and a boy in my class, named Dustin, gave me a small, white teddy bear with a red bow tied around his neck. At 6 years old, this was a lavish gift among the ritual of passing out store-bought cards with flat suckers.
I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what it meant. I certainly didn’t want Dustin to be my boyfriend (whatever that means in first grade).
I can remember Valentine’s Days at school in the years after, carefully choosing cards for each classmate, making sure none of them were too flirty. Didn’t want to risk someone thinking the pre-made cards were from my heart.
As I got older, Valentine’s Day had some weight to it.
In college, I told my fellow students to take Valentine’s Day like a man, in the inches of my weekly relationship column:
“It is the lonesome man who looks above this dreaded day and treats it just like any other. He doesn’t wear black, cry, eat chocolate or hate himself.”
I tried to take my own advice, and joined some girlfriends at a martini bar. I remember wearing a silky shirt that was printed with green and blue hearts.
That night, I watched as the bartender poured a long row of Patron shots. Little did I know that the very bartender would be in my life years later, and we too, would share a few Valentine’s Days.
But before that could happen, I was on the tail of a bad relationship. It was a constant back and forth that wasn’t healthy. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, I got stood up, and finally I was free.
And then, I fell in love with that bartender. While there were good times, the bad weighed heavier. For Valentine’s Day, all I wanted was to see him. I fantasized about it—I wanted to order one of those “Heart Baker” pizzas from Papa Murphy’s, sip on beer, and sit with my guy.
But he didn’t want that.
Instead of pizza and beer, I sat alone that night, eating the red velvet cupcakes I baked for him.
It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.
Truthfully, I’ve never tried to put too much pressure on February 14. I know it’s a bit of a silly holiday; I want a relationship where we constantly show our love for each other, not just one day.
But terrible Heart’s Days aside, this year I really wanted to give myself a break. My stock on bad dates is currently up, and I needed a little cheering up. So I looked back on the 2-14s of my past.
I never did get that pizza.
So, I drove across the street to Papa Murphy’s, marched in a told the gentleman I wanted “the heart pizza.” A mere $6.30 later, I drove home with a fresh pepperoni pizza, shaped like a heart.
Because I deserve it…along with a bottle of wine.
My journey to the heart (pizza) hasn’t been an easy one, and it’s certainly not over, but every now and then I need a reminder that the journey (and the pizza) is all mine.
I was excited this morning when I heard a sweet story on the news: the story of Mrs. Bieber.
Mrs. Bieber, or Avalanna, is a 6-year-old who is diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. She is a huge Justin Bieber fan, so much so, she had a fake wedding to him. When the Biebs heard this, he surprised her yesterday with autographs and kisses!
Remember when I told you I had been thinking of Valentine’s Days gone by? Well, as I’ve mentioned, they aren’t all ribbons and pearls, or chocolate and roses, perhaps.
But, they aren’t all about me sitting and moping, either. If I think back further, years ago, there was a Valentine’s Day when I actually stood up for myself, and I even laughed about being single on that day. Here is the story:
In early February, Austin told me he was coming to Baton Rouge on behalf of his job. They wanted him to represent their company at the LSU job fair. I thought it was cool that he would be in town, but a previous fight we’d had came to the surface—both times I’d been to Dallas, I paid for the flights by myself, which was fine, but I felt like he needed to visit Baton Rouge on his dime.
He said I was being petty, that he was coming in town to see me—but in reality, he was getting a free trip and he was coming in town to represent his job. Regardless, he asked if he could stay with me and I said it was okay. I was still bartending and had to work happy hour the day he flew in town. He made plans to meet me at the bar at 7p.m., and have a few drinks before I got off work.
That morning, I wasn’t excited to see Austin. I was worried I had made the wrong decision in agreeing to letting him stay at my house. I’d already slept with someone new, who I really liked, and I didn’t want to mess that up. I didn’t even know if I wanted to see Austin at all.
But I kept my word, decided to face my demons, and go to work. Before I knew it, 8 o’clock rolled around and no word from Austin. He was an hour late. I still had one more hour of work left, so I kept at it.
But my mind started buzzing and before I knew it, my blood was boiling. This was a perfect example of everything our relationship had been since it’s beginning. Everything was always on Austin’s watch, no matter what. I was done. I was sick of being treated like shit, being second best to everything. I stared at the door, praying he wouldn’t arrive. When happy hour ended, I counted my drawer as fast as I could.
“On my way, don’t leave,” he texted.
Two hours late, and that’s what he had to say? I grabbed my purse, my coat, and ran to my car, hopped inside and sped home like a bat out of hell. He didn’t know where I lived, so once I pulled onto my street, I breathed a sigh of relief. I got inside my apartment, locked the doors, and sat in my bed laughing my ass off.
It was the greatest moment I’d felt in all of dating breakups. I’d finally felt the light switch. Austin called and texted me all night, to which I didn’t answer or respond. He was at the bar, with his suitcase, and nowhere to stay.
When my friends heard the story, they thought I was a little mean. But I didn’t care. Austin had treated me like shit for years and he finally got what was coming to him. With Austin, nothing I ever said resonated. So I had to show instead of tell. Keeping my mouth shut was the best thing I ever did for that relationship.
Anna Sofia Martin’s latest article on The Frisky really caught my attention: “8 Tips For Landing a Job or a Man This Valentine’s Day.”
While I’m not looking for either of those things, I’ve never thought about just how similar these two things are: job hunting vs. on the prowl.
Martin finds herself in a rare situation: dumped and laid off a week before heart’s day…and we thought simply being single was bad, sheesh! But I completely admire Martin’s positivity and courage to just go after what she wants.
One of my favorite tips is no. 5. Do I Want What You Want? Use your time together wisely for the must-do Q&A session.
This is something I feel I don’t do enough of, gauging what I want versus what the person or job is offering me.
What do you think? Do you approach the job hunt and the date search differently, or do you use similar tactics?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Valentine’s Days from years behind me…and it doesn’t look pretty. One in particular, two years ago, hurts me the most. But as I continue to move on as a single woman, learning from these moments is what it’s all about.
So, I want to share with you a piece of the journal entry I wrote two years ago:
Valentine’s Day—how I detest thee. Boyfriend or no boyfriend, you hurt my heart. You make me feel fat, ugly, and lonely. I can’t go out to eat around Valentine’s Day because of the couples, and the wait. I can’t go anywhere without seeing red, and boxes of chocolates, and banners hanging from the lamp posts saying “Holly, you’re still alone on Valentine’s Day!”
There’s never been a February 14 that I’ve actually looked forward to, or enjoyed. And if there has been, my memory has blocked it out due to trauma and/or heavy drinking.
But this year, THIS YEAR! Is the first year I’ve been dating someone on Valentine’s Day and so, I thought my hatred for such a nasty holiday would hide in the shadows. But nope. Still hate it.
I didn’t want to make a big ta-da out of the day or weekend, but I did want to indulge in some chocolate and time with my Valentine. But the dream I had built up in my mind—that we’d eat a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s, get schlitzed on beer, and eat a batch of red velvet cupcakes—quickly dissolved when my Valentine went missing.
And so, with a meaningless set of 12 homemade red velvet cupcakes, (I gave them to my coworkers and shoved the rest in my mouth with a game of Chubby Bunny, reminding myself once again why I am a loner each February), I wallowed in my sorrows.
With such a bad case of the lonelies, there was only one remedy: a cheese pizza just for me (notice how often I reference food here) and my very own Will & Grace marathon. What does that say about me that a show about gay men, paired with greasy food (and copious amounts of alcohol) is the only answer to my problems?
I’m certain this is just karma biting me in the ass for telling that soccer mom at Hobby Lobby to eff off—but I still think she deserved it.
I spent my Valentine’s Day hating my life and chatting with fellow girlfriends who hate theirs all the same. I know, I know, that last thing we’re supposed to do is sit at home and mope. Don’t worry—I didn’t sit at home. Instead, I sat in the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Center for 4 hours after I figured out I needed a set of new tires. I went to the tire center expecting to pay $15 for a fixed flat, but instead paid $400. While I waited, I tried to read and not cry, but instead I was surrounded by crying babies, announcements over the loud-speaker, and a family next to me eating a bucket of fried chicken and bananas.
Naturally, I hung my head in shame. Even at Wal-Mart, I was surrounded with men buying hearts of chocolate and flowers and bears for their ladies. I was simply counting down the minutes until I could sip my first beer of the night.
Have you been through a tough Valentine’s Day? This year, I’m not focusing on who loves, or doesn’t love, me, but rather, who I love!
A week from today, couples will celebrate the oh-so-fun holiday, Valentine’s Day.
For the 26th year in a row, I’m single on Hearts Day, and once again, I’m searching for ways to survive this couples’ holiday. Luckily, The Frisky came to my rescue with the article, “15 Ways to Avoid Valentine’s Day This Year.”
While the ideas are nothing extremely creative, I’ll definitely be practicing #13: go to the gym.
What’s even better than the article are the comments; one of my favorites is one who says her favorite thing to do on Valentine’s Day with or without a love interest was order Chinese.
Overload on orange chicken and fried rice? Not a bad idea!