In my 21 years of being single, I have often considered how well I’ve managed blowing off loneliness. In fact, I really like doing things on my own. Being single is freeing and eye-opening – you come to conclusions on your own that can make a profound impact on your lifestyle, and realize that your friends rock. It’s also refreshing to realize what sort of problems I’ve been able to avoid without all the drama of a relationship. But once a year I commiserate with the masses of people suffering from a nauseating case of “Single Person’s Disease” on Valentine’s Day.
Pass the merlot and Nutella, please.
I guess I was lucky I grew up as a flower shop owner’s daughter – I have come to know Valentine’s Day solely as a commercial holiday. In our household, we started preparing for the lovers’ holiday a week after Christmas, every square inch of surface space in our house covered by heart-shaped balloons, hundreds upon hundreds of roses and countless packs of memo-centric tart candies. If the reminder that I’m perpetually single wasn’t enough to make me feel sick, the sugar definitely was.
The idea of love being any part of Valentine’s Day is totally lost on me. A box of chocolates doesn’t mean you love someone…But if anyone cares to ‘fess up some long-lost feelings for me, I like dark chocolate – just for the record.
This year in particular, it seemed like every last one of my friends was coupled up into some cute and disgusting relationship – which made it the perfect time for me to flee to London for the semester. However, I was not prepared for the massive epidemic of coupledom that seems to have overtaken most Londoners. I’ve only been here for a month and a day rarely passes when one fails to see two lovebirds walking hand-in-hand down the street, holding onto each other on the Tube, drunkenly snogging in McDonald’s late at night – they’re everywhere!
Having the opportunity in London to arrive in other countries in a heartbeat, one of my friends here suggested a trip to Paris for her 21st birthday. I jumped at the chance to get my passport stamped again.
It’s during Valentine’s Day weekend.
To top all this off, Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in Europe with the same materialistic concentration as in the United States. There are still loads of Valentine’s Day dinner specials advertised, stuffed plush hearts hanging in store windows and commercials for monogrammed greeting cards from comically named companies like “Funky Pigeon,” but the holiday is a much mushier affair. Tradition has it that lovers are to spend the two weeks prior preparing sonnets for their beloved. Can someone catch me while I swoon?
I mean, gag me. Who wants a love poem? Gross.
So here I go, heading straight into the lion’s den, destined to spend the most couple-centric day of the year in the romance capital of the world, floating in masses of overly-affectionate couples publicly declaring their love for one another. I am really looking forward to fulfilling my own status as forever alone. Cue the montage of me drunkenly singing along to Carly Simon’s “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” surrounded by empty bottles of cheap wine. I’m classy, I know.
But for once in my life, I refuse to let my life imitate that of Bridget Jones. While some cynics might look at this trip as one of the most depressing getaways they’ve ever booked, I will be wholeheartedly embracing it. I am a million levels of excited to traipse around “La Ville-Lumiére” with some of my best friends, taking super-corny “romantic photos” in front of the Eiffel Tower and scouring the Pére Lachaise Cemetery for Jim Morrison’s grave.
Despite the sickening business of being single on Valentine’s Day in the one city drawing the most passionate couples in the world, I’m still going to the one of the most exciting places on Earth. It’s going to be pretty rad.
In the meantime, I still have to see all those couples on the Tube during my morning commute. Crack open the next bottle of merlot.
Skye Leppo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.