so my real official valentine’s day post belongs to ophelia’s webb today, so you’ll have to go over there if you want to read that mess. but if you’re too lazy to click, the cliff’s notes version is that i love valentine’s day.
when was a little girl, i would spend weeks and weeks making home made valentines for everyone i cared about (long before romantic love could hover over me like a specter of death) and generally just thinkin about all the people i wanted to tell how awesome they are. as a teenager, i wasn’t always great at expressing my love for anyone or anything (picture it- 1992: black lipstick, kafka, ever present scowl), but for some reason, i let valentine’s day be the exception to that rule. and in fact, if i felt compelled to declare my affections to someone in particular, i would often wait until valentine’s day- and spend weeks or months thinking of just the right thing to say that would make them fall in love with me instantly.
this has had varying levels of effectiveness. and has, on rare occasion, gotten me into trouble.
flash forward a little bit to my freshman year in college- smith college, before i got kicked out for drinking too much cheap champagne and not going to class. i was sitting in the cafeteria picking away at hot dog tuesday or whatever bullshit i was eating at the time (despite the pricetag, smith college food was TERRIBLE), and i spotted this girl across the room eating by herself. she was boyish and limby, and had this tangle of bleach blonde hair perched on her head like a birds nest (forgive, it was the late 90s). i just remember being kind of awed by the fact that she was eating alone and was clearly not feeling self conscious about it. she didn’t have a book or anything, just eating and existing in a way that captured my 18 year old heart.
i had to tell her. it wasn’t a choice, it was a biological imperative.
as the valentine’s day festivities rolled closer, i decided that the anonymous approach with a simple but potent message would be the best. that year i made my cards with a collage of theatrical lighting gels, cardboard, magazine clippings, and high gloss shellac. hers would read:
“happy valentine’s day to the most beautiful girl i have ever seen.”
what i didn’t realize at the time was that her girlfriend had been in my house that day and had seen me making the cards at the living room table. at least at that moment, i didn’t even realize that dream girl had a girlfriend. i would soon be in possession of this knowledge.
a few days after valentine’s day, i was in the post office checking my mail and the girlfriend spots me. dear lord, why did i have a PO box in the back corner! i don’t entirely remember what was said, but i do remember her standing very close to my face and demanding that i confess to sending the valentine. she never threatened physical violence, but pitiful lovestruck freshman allie was terrified and ran out of the building at top speed as soon as she backed away enough for me to escape. i don’t know that i’ve ever run faster in my life.
still, totally worth it.
see, there’s my problem right there. when i get it in my head to tell someone my feelings, it doesn’t matter if they have a significant other, or if we have anything in common, or if we’re complete strangers. philosophically, i believe that everyone needs to hear that they are admired- regardless of the chances of reciprocation.
love is not a calculated risk in my world. love is a wild stab. an uncontrollable declaration. and if for whatever crazy and ill advised reason, there is a person that moves me, i have to tell them.
because what if.
i may get rejected and embarrassed (a skill that i have near perfected), but i never worry that i’ve missed my chance. or that things could have turned out differently. and now, all those people that i’ve admired all those times for all those different reasons, they know. they know that someone saw them across the street and blushed and gasped. they know that someone lost all coordination and ability to form coherent sentences the minute they walked into the room. they know that (at least for a minute) someone thought they were the superior model. everyone needs to hear that.
sure, i’m a fool. a fool who will probably get beat up by an angry angry girlfriend someday. but i’m a fool with no regrets.
so as a service to everyone out there who won’t sack up and shout their love from the mountain tops (or even counter tops) this year, i devote this year’s official valentine message to every single person everywhere on your behalf: