A History of Valentines.
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.
Posted on February 13, 2014, in The Squeeze and tagged alcoholic, breakup, breakups, dating, drinking, ex boyfriends, fighting, heartbreak, Holly A. Phillips, How to Make Lemonade, love, relationships, sex, single, The Bitter Lemon, twenty-something, Valentine's Day, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.