*The title is a play off my favorite song, What Are You Doing New Years’ Eve?
February 14. If you have been paying attention, it’s Valentine’s Day. The stores are stocked with an assortment of red, white, and pink love notes, cards, flowers, candies, and the like.
Can you feel it? Can you feel the manufactured love in the air?
[Side note: There is a real St. Valentine who is the patron saint of courtly love, young people, and marriage, and the 14th is his feast day. Carry on.]
Many moons ago, I hated this day and everything associated with this day. Well, I hated most things about this day. I mean, have you had the Reese’s Valentine Day melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter and chocolate hearts? I LIVE for those every season. LOVE them. I have one in my mouth right now! But that love for those chocoloates was never enough to buoy an interest or appreciation for Valentines Day.
Until this year. I am bubbling over with excitement for today.
I’m not celebrating National Day of Shamed Aloneness. In fact, I’m not alone. This blog on HowAboutWe confirms that:
Fifty percent of adult Americans are single — a number that roughly translates into 17 million women and 14 million men — and 31 million of them live alone. A national lonely hearts club, you say? Quite the opposite. According to Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo, the Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, people are choosing to live alone, and despite the best efforts of every romantic comedy ever made to convince us otherwise, many of those consider their current single status “a mark of distinction, not a social failure.”
I’m not channeling Liz Lemon and launching into this quotation when I buy cupcakes today:
No, I’ll buy some cookies. But not for Valentine’s Day. Instead, these cookies celebrate the February 14th birthday of Anna Howard Shaw, famed American suffragette. Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day to you, Evelyn.
I’m not celebrating Be My Own Boo Day. I’m not raising my glass to National Side Chick Awareness Day. I feel the quirkyalone movement, so I’m kinda feeling International QuirkyAlone Day. But there are no cards and candy hearts that bear that holiday’s seal of approval. I’m not angry about being alone. I’m not upset that I am lacking dinner invitations, meeting strangers over drinks, or meeting in a hotel room for lascivious entertainment involving the mini-bar and rumpled sheets. (Maybe a little bit perturbed that I’m not munching down on $5 bags of M&Ms in between bouts of pillow fighting and the rites of Venus.)
All those years of resentment and befuddlement over why some women were chosen and I wasn’t are over with. Done. All those days of wasted energy trying to figure out why I don’t have a valentine, it’s a wrap.
Looking around at this age and at this time in my life, I realize how much love I have in my life. How much love and attention I have called into my existence. My family loves me even when they have no reason or capability to do so. I have a coterie of close friends and great acquaintances. I am doing what I love. I am in the process of finding out how to love myself into wholeness.
Ursula LeGuin in all her brilliance said:
Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
My current status of being single doesn’t preclude me from loving the people I am with: my family, my friends, my students. In fact, these relationships deserve the same care and attention we pay to the romantic ones. The relationship I am reclaiming with myself deserves to be remade and made fresh and anew.
Being without a partner doesn’t preclude me from loving other folks who have been there with me through thick and thin, sickness and health, wealth and the state of digging pennies out of your cushions so you can get gas. Being alone doesn’t stop me from loving myself and treating myself to the best.
Today I am living this love out today. I am started to date my friends and date myself. As this author said, “There’s plenty of dating to be done on every other day of the year, glittery hearts not required.” I’m getting a massage which is necessary after Sunday’s 13.1 trek around St. Petersburg. I’m going to see Die Hard with in-real-life friends that I’ve only connected with via social media. I am spending this weekend around my academic team nerds. I am writing love notes that I am leaving scattered across town over the next few days. I bought my parents a gift and cards. I gave a recently dumped friend cupcakes and quality time. I gave myself the gift of forgiveness, joy, a few books, and this ring.
But the things I am doing today are my chance to sustain and remake the important and loving relationships in my life.