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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.