Perhaps unsurprisingly I have been anti-Valentine’s Day for years. I can’t, in all honesty, remember the last time I celebrated it. But this year I’d like to embrace the capitalist-driven falsehoods behind what it otherwise a random February 14th and Thursday. Take my money, Paris! Give me gifts, partner! Do, suggest The Love Playlist, Spotify! I’m all for it this year.
I don’t know what is driving this change in direction. Should I be worried?
Though cynical I would say too that I am rather romantic. I enjoy stuffing the odd love note into a pocket and organising a surprise or two out of the blue. I can tell my boyfriend that I love him without feeling like there needs to be a special occasion to do so. I’m also dating a French man and the stereotype is true: they do romance very well, even I’d say, unintentionally well (before our first date, he actually used to leave extracts from Romeo and Juliet in my letter box at work which I’d find every morning, mysteriously unsigned).
With all that you’d think that when we got together we would have fallen immediately into the idea of Valentine’s Day. The reality is that we never have; in fact I have just asked him this minute if we’ve ever celebrated the day and it has been met with a characteristic non!
The idea that you show your love on one special day by allowing businesses to take advantage of you has never appealed to me. I know that buying a teddy bear, receiving a rose or chocolates on February 14th really means nothing and the same depth of feeling – or greater – can be accomplished on any other day. I understand that buying into the hype and pressure of the day can, conversely, lead you to express emotions that are not there mainly because love ebbs and flows and certainly I couldn’t say that on this day, at this time and for the duration of the next twenty-four hours I am going to be enamoured by any particular person. Loves comes and goes.
We all basically recognise the day for what it is.
Tomorrow, however, I will capitulate and celebrate it. I reckon this capitulation is down to the fact that I have realised that it is not necessary to be so militantly against things in order to have some sense of self. It occurred to me recently that for a very long time I have been constructing identity in opposition to what I do not want to be, rather than what I do want to be. In fact I think it is often easier to project a self that is against something than a self that likes something. To like something – especially if it goes against the grain or has a drop of the eccentric about it – is to reveal oneself. It might feel safer to oppose things, to hate them even.
The fact is I feel like celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. I feel like marking the four years we have spent together – through so many continental moves and some turbulent personal times – tomorrow. That there is a day where I can pack in all that I might not say to my boyfriend because it isn’t the right time seems at the moment to be a gift. Or perhaps it is simply my mindset right now.
Tomorrow I don’t know exactly what we will do together but I will do something traditionally romantic because I feel like making the effort. I know it is ridiculous, foolish even to buy into the idea of the day. I know but I also like that I can still be swept up in something, for it means that there is some romance left in me yet and the shadow of someone who doesn’t have to rage against anything in order to feel comfortable about expressing her love.