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.

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Posted on February 13, 2014, in The Squeeze and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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