I hardly know how to begin. Since at least two weeks ago, I have had to manage and contain an unprecedented amount of joy and anxiety, threatening to spill the moment anything heart-shape appears. I’ve nearly choked twice. There are calluses on my fingers. And my bedroom floor is littered with beads, glitter, and piles of assorted cellophane bags. Most of you know why this is, why your own heart may have also started to race. But for those of you just joining us, may I say, you are at the right place at the right time. Tonight, my friend, is Valentine’s Month Eve.
For the historian in you, you may find a reasonable amount of information here, here, and here. But for those of you who want to skip to the celebrating, I thought we could first take a moment to celebrate what this holiday is not. Valentine’s month is 28 days of bedazzled romance, yes. Upon recently googling the word ‘romance,’ however, it seems the internet and I have different definitions.
and scented, candle-lit, satanic rituals, of course.
Admittedly, I have not been certified with a PhD in romance, because they don’t exist. But having invented and having celebrated an imaginary, month-long holiday for at least seven years, I’ve collected quite a few thoughts on romance that I don’t mind sharing. For one thing, I definitely don’t think romance is exclusive to heterosexual swans. A moment isn’t more romantic lit by candle-light (is rather significantly more dangerous). And romance definitely shouldn’t make everyone outside of such exclusions instinctively want to hurl.
So, what is romance?
I think romance is happiness. You can absolutely derive happiness from another person. But you can also, just as deeply, find happiness in faith, a friend, yourself, a meditative cup of tea, a moving cup of beef stew, art, music, Netflix, fragrances, pets, fine papers, board games, letters, and so on. Romance is whatever I’m boiling in this red pot for you…
I think being able to really enjoy something is romantic. Being content is romantic. Maybe Valentine’s Day has become villainized because we’re forced to believe that very particular rituals and images, that may not naturally suit us, equate all that is beautiful and romantic. Worse, it can appeal to an almost competitive nature in some of us, that having someone or some things qualify us as truly loved. Perhaps this idea makes us scream louder than we should, about gestures that are more meaningful in private. Meanwhile, the cynically unloved are forced to curse their lack of chocolates and roses, of diamonds and sultry kisses in bat-laden caves, and feel more keenly miserable and alone than ever before. I rarely abbreviate, but WTF?
Friends, let’s be cool about this holiday and our rational selves. For the next 28 days, lets celebrate friendship and family, and the unlimited forms that love really takes! Think of all the things that set your heart racing – Korean barbecue, Superbowl Sunday food, toddlers, baked goods, Mr. Darcy – and start chasing after those things, things that you enjoy. And smile. Smile a lot. Because, every day should be Valentine’s Day. And coincidentally, in February, every day is!
P.S. Of course, soul-searching loves aside, you should also be prepared to accept some magic exists this month… Earlier today, as I was leaving the library with an armful of books, bracing myself for a slap of winter, I came across the following, lying in the middle of the gray and damp parking lot:
It’s fabric. And it probably has lice. But that splash of red, surprisingly unsullied by the snow, seemed to be waiting for me – a romantic tug at my heartstrings, a hello, happy February.
Happy, happy Valentine’s Month Eve, my friend. I cannot wait to love you.