Last night I sat on the porch with my roommate as she scrolled through Facebook on her phone. “I’m over everyone with these ‘I Love Us’ stuff,” she said without looking away from the screen.

“What are you talking about?” I replied.

“You know how they do profile pictures for holidays, well they have a Valentine’s one that says ‘I Love Us’ with a heart and a ton of people are switching to it.”

“Barf.”

She giggled on the dark porch.

I think most of us, whether single or coupled, can admit that Valentine’s is a pretty bullshit holiday. It’s not even that I’m sitting over here being bitter about my single life these days, but all the attention and fanfare the holiday can get tiresome. When I was single before Tim, I never gave much thought to Valentine’s.

Cake I made for Tim circa 2008

In high school I guess it was a pretty big deal. I remember my high school freshman English teacher, who admittedly was a tiny bit nuts (she used to address the classroom with ‘How my Honkies doing today!’… true story), paired boys and girls in the class up so we could exchange Valentines. This was a time in my life that I was drawing pictures for people like a maniac, so I’m sure whatever fellow I got received a generic store bought card and a sketch from me. No big deal.

The card I got in class was in a large, pink envelope from a blonde kid named Cam. Besides being in the same English class, I don’t think this kid and I ever really spoke much. Or maybe we did and he didn’t hit my radar of people who were in my inner circle… I can’t remember. Anyway, I opened up this large pink card from Cam and it had a reflective silver “mirror” in it with something about being pretty and special and Happy Valentine’s Day. On it there was a hand written message that contained more words than the guy’s name, which now I realize is basically a Shakespearean sonnet in boy code. After I got the card, Cam pulled me aside, “Uh there’s one more thing I have to give you after class,” he mumbled.

I know you look at this teen and think “Wow she looks so well adjusted and social SURELY SHE’S A WINNER AT HIGH SCHOOL DATING!”

When the bell rang, he lead me to his locker and pulled out a stuffed panda tied with helium balloons and passed them to me. My eyes grew big as saucers.

“Wow, um, thank you!” I stuttered.

Then we never talked again. That might be the moment when I first discovered that I was really, really bad at dating. It’s a damn miracle I got married.

Really though, I have no beef with Valentine’s Day. I love that the first year Tim and I spent Valentine’s together, I made him a fancy meal at his apartment of scallops… only to find out after he finished that he didn’t really like scallops all that much. I love that the present he gave me was a small white teddy bear holding a heart that says, “Shit Bitch! You’s Fine.” That bear is still on the shelf of my living room. I love one year he whisked us away to a bed & breakfast in Asheville, one of my favorite places in the world. I love that another Valentine’s day, I gave him a pet hamster which he named Napoleon and loved to pieces. I love that for our last Valentine’s day, he promised to book a future romantic weekend getaway for us in hill country. That weekend turned out to be the last one I would ever spend with him.

Valentines 2008

When my roommate and I were rolling our eyes at the “I Love Us” profile filter on Facebook, she joked that her and I should post one of us with our horses. I laughed and said that’d be too close to the truth, because I value and trust my partnership with Simon more than I do any man right now.

Tonight on my second Valentine’s as a widow, I’m inviting friends over for a feast. The whole idea started when I jokingly said I would make an epic chocolate peanut butter dessert while heavily drinking, and live blog or tweet or something about it. Then on top of the dessert, I was going to try and order a pizza from Papa Johns and ask them in the special instructions section to please spell out ‘ALONE’ in pepperoni. I thought this was hilarious. My roommate said it was too depressing.

Maybe it’s both, but what started as a joke morphed into me cooking a dinner of some of my favorite things and inviting folks over. Some are single. Some are coupled. Some are memories, because Tim is always on my mind and as I rolled the dough for pizza monkey bread, one of his favorite recipes (though I made his vegan), I thought about the Valentine’s Days we spent together.

Most un-photogenic selfie ever but it’s adorable and I don’t care

We didn’t put a special hashtag on the day or throw filters on our social media profile pictures (mainly because Tim deleted Facebook… I’d probably be guilty of this), but we made a point to be together and do something nice for each other. That was us as a couple, and I loved us.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Valentines day has been 28 years of disappointment for me…except in the 3rd grade when this tiny cotton topped little boy who wanted to be troy aikman gave me a valentines. Otherwise i’ve been single or dated someone who didn’t think they were required to acknowledge the fake holiday.

    But we will celebrate anyways because i never say no to a party…

    Cheers! (insert clanking beers emoji and black heart emoji)

  2. Shit bitch, you’s fine! LOVE that! Well written post, Lauren. Lots of emotional tugs and plenty of laughs. I hope dinner is awesome tonight! And for the record, I think the pizza is funny, mostly because I picture the Papa John’s folks facial expressions as they read the instructions lol

  3. Yeah, it’s a shit holiday. Thanks, Saint Valentine for doing this for us:
    Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

    What’s wrong with posting a picture with your loved one on social media? Whether it be on 2 or 4 legs and letting your friends/family/pet know that you love them? Geez, y’all! Lighten up! I love sending my nieces and nephews cards in the mail telling them that Aunt Kelly is thinking about them and loves them, just like I loved to receive cards addressed to ME in the mail as a kid (heck, I still do! Way better than bills and junkmail) Besides, I’m not sure I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love receiving wine and chocolate – or just buying it for themselves for the heck of it.

  4. I think it’s sad that Tim was a vegan, yet did drugs. He wanted to take care of himself, but couldn’t shake the other side…A true dichotomy…

    • I have never commented on this blog before (although I read every post! Hi Lauren!) but this comment actually horrified me so much that I had to respond.

      I don’t want to step on any toes here, but I work in clinical research and also had a family member (my father) die from the disease of addiction — because it is a disease. The suggestion that Tim maliciously “chose” to be an addict much like he (benevolently) chose to be a vegan is flippant at best and incredibly damaging at worst. Addicts do not choose to be addicts (there are plenty of people who try drugs once or twice or use them casually and are not addicts!) any more than people with depression “decide” to be sad or people with cancer “decide” to have their cells multiply uncontrollably.

      In fact, many addicts will do things like work out obsessively, or make radical diet changes, because they feel like it’s a portion of their lives and behavior that they CAN control.

      I don’t think that you meant any harm by this comment, but I do think there is a lot of stigma and misinformation about addiction and abuse that needs to be countered.

  5. Hey Lauren,

    I frequently intend to comment on your blog and somehow never get to it, but have often meant to thank you for your lovely writing. You have such a great, clear, honest voice and I am so impressed by the respectful yet emotional tone you bring to your posts. I always look forward to reading your posts. Beautifully done.

  6. It is a total shit holiday as far as the marketing side of it goes, but if it is one day that gets people to do something nice and heartfelt for someone else, then I’m in. My new man is very good at giving thoughtful, heartfelt gifts. No black hearts here.

  7. this is my second valentine as a widow also.my husband always did cute things on that day and always flowers with him gone my son brings flowers and trys to fill in i love him for that but i sure do miss his father! Have you heard the moody blues song forever autrum it sure sums up how i feel and it sounds like you to!

  8. You know it’s funny. As a spinster I should hate Valentine’s Day. But I really don’t. I think the premise is a bit silly, as you shouldn’t need a day to celebrate your love. That should be celebrated every day. But I don’t really mind the day. I tend to celebrate a few days later when all the candy goes to 75% off.

  9. I mean it was taco tuesday after all! I have a significant other but I’m really not into the whole “LOOK HOW GREAT MY LIFE IS WORLD” posting on facebook. It really is a stupid holiday to go crazy with, but a fun excuse to buy yourself a bottle of wine and eat pizza

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