Much like an elderly man nestled in his rustic leather chair with a glass of scotch, recalling the ‘better times,’ I now lay on my West Elm comforter with a stuffed Eeyore, contemplating my youth. I envision a montage of golden summer days, LFO’s “Summer Girls” playing on loop over b-roll of children on swings, school buses driving through cookie-cutter neighborhoods and the general carefree-ness of it all.
What I miss more than the Lisa Frank school supplies and “Clarissa Explains it All” is Valentine’s Day. That day was reserved for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cards – you’re totally tubular, dude – mounds of chocolate and monochromatic hot pink outfits. But alas, things have changed with the passing time.
What really kills me is that Valentine’s Day and I used to have a great relationship.
Every Feb. 14, I would wake up to a present from my mom hidden somewhere in the house. I’d put on a fuchsia sweater, pale-pink corduroy pants and light-up Sailor Moon kicks. Pigtails with pink scrunchies? Check. Candy hearts and Valentine’s cards for everyone except that one mean girl in math? Check. I skipped to the bus, ready to have the best day ever.
Once I hit middle school, I developed this delusional mindset that Valentine’s Day didn’t exist. It was just another day to me, but by no means did I harbor bitter feelings for the 14th. We accepted each other as we were – annoying, but with good intentions.
Fast-forward to high school. A job at Coldstone Creamery afforded my girlfriends and I the luxury of endless tubs of Founder’s Favorite. We’d eat our little hearts out and watch sappy Hugh Grant films, waiting for our parents to get home. Still slightly delusional – and still single – but blissfully ignorant, nonetheless.
Now embarking on my third Valentine’s Day as a college student, I can’t help but look back fondly on my youth and vehemently curse past V-Day dates.
On Feb. 14, 2010, I spent the day with my sister and her fiancé, slumped over my brunch at Café Lift, swollen-eyed and miserable.
Nine hours earlier, my then-boyfriend of nearly a year abruptly ended the relationship for no rhyme or reason – and on the phone, no less. Our romantic plans for a French restaurant and a night on the town dressed to the nines was brutally annihilated.
It was then that my disdain for Valentine’s Day developed. There was no guarantee that love would be honored and cherished on the 14th. The forced exhibition and excessive romanticism creates a situation for many lovers that scares them away, rather than bringing them closer.
The following year, I spent my formerly-favorite holiday with a friend. I made him dinner – a delicious Italian feast – that he hardly ate. We hung out with my roommates – who he barely spoke to. When he left around 11 p.m., I was more relieved than heartbroken for the night to finally be done. And, against my better judgment, I must admit: He was a purebred hipster, with a lumberjack beard and Levi’s to boot.
Recently it dawned on me that Valentine’s Day was so much easier as a child because my definition of “love” was all-encompassing. I loved my parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and Leonardo DiCaprio during the “Growing Pains” era. The increasing concern for adults is finding Mr. or Mrs. Right or Right Now. We’ve removed all extraneous lovers from the equation, when in reality, our love shouldn’t be solely reserved for one person.
So this year, I’m resolving to rekindle my relationship with Cupid. Instead of lamenting my singular status, and instead of becoming an extreme “Sex-and-the-City”-quoting, man-hating, “too independent for my own good neo-feminist,” I’m just loving the people who are already there, and the relationships that will last.
Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.