Valentine’s Through My Years

I have never had a proper Valentine.

The idea of this blog is to recount my adventures in love and relationships – and sex. But as February 13 becomes February 14 and something in the air changes all around the world, I can’t help but focus on all of my adventures as a whole and look at this day over the years. And the truth is, I say I hate Valentine’s Day because it makes people behave like lunatics. But I am never 100% sure that is the reason. Or the whole reason. Or the only reason.

I have never had a proper Valentine.

1996 – Noel had moved to live with his dad at the start of our Freshman year in high school. When I found out that he would be back in town to visit his mom the weekend of our Valentine’s dance, I offered to take him as my “date,” so he could see all of his old friends at one time.

From the outset, I had told him and everyone else that he was only my “date” as a way to get him in the door. I didn’t care if he danced with other girls, I didn’t care if he hung out with other people; we were only there together as friends. Strictly friends. But as the night progressed, he refused to leave my side. We danced every dance, save for a few when I pushed him to dance with someone else – we were only there together as friends – and as the last song of the night whined through the DJ’s speakers, he led me, danced me, toward a darker corner of the gym. When we were sufficiently shadowed, he kissed me and didn’t let go until we were covered in the weird glow of the florescent lights coming to life.

That was probably the closest I’ve come to a proper Valentine.

1997 – John and I had broken up a month earlier. I spent that Valentine’s Day single but not only had he walked away from me without any real explanation or closure, he had taken with him my best friend. I found out later that he had cheated on both of us, as well as our third Musketeer.

1998 – Allen and I had been “sexually active” for approximately a month at this point.  Valentine’s Day, 1998 was spent in the backseat of his car, instead of on the date we had told our parents we had planned. I’m sure that involved a cliché dinner – Italian? – and a movie we had to pretend we watched. But I can’t remember for sure.

1999 – I have never seen Disney’s Mulan. Because on Valentine’s Day, 1999, I lay on the floor of the living room of the house where my boyfriend lived and feigned sleep to avoid physical contact while he sat next to me, watching the movie. After that day, I never had the desire to revisit the film I “slept” through.

2000 – 2003 – For the most part, anything that happened, “romantically” in my first few years of university revolved around Lennon. There will be more stories about Lennon but I remember one of these years included a movie, dinner – where we talked about the movie; frankly, in my opinion, the proper timeline for a dinner-movie date – and parking. Is “parking” an antiquated term? Do kids still talk about parking? Do kids still park? Sexual activity with Lennon has become quite a bone of contention, and I promise to come back to that in future post(s), but for now, we are talking about parking as part of our Valentine’s “date.” That particular Valentine’s Day, I was gifted with actual sex, something that was fairly uncommon with Lennon.

Let me take a moment, here, to explain something about myself.

I am sex positive. I didn’t know that was a thing until a year, or so, ago, but it is me, absolutely. I believe in sex. I believe in the pleasure of sex. I believe in asking for what you want from sex. I believe that sex is an important bonding experience – not just the act of intercourse but the process leading up to intercourse as well as mature, unadulterated conversations about sex with friends. I have no problem talking about sex with trusted friends. Sometimes I wonder if that makes them think I’m weird or some kind of sex addict (recovering, although, not necessarily by choice). I do not, however, believe sex should involve shame. I do not believe that sex should be a weapon or a tool used in manipulation of another also sexual human being. I do not believe that sex should be used as a bargaining tool. I do not believe that sex should be used as a replacement for true intimacy.

Lennon, on the other hand, did believe in using sex as a weapon, manipulation, bargain, and replacement for intimacy. He believed that sex was appropriate to be given as a gift. And so, as a gift on one particular Valentine’s Day, I was given sex.

2004 – Israel and I had agreed not to celebrate Valentine’s Day. On the one hand, we were in two different cities in two different states and couldn’t, feasibly, have a real date. On the other hand, we agreed that Valentine’s Day was an archaic and ridiculous practice.

Even with all of that, we bought one another gifts. I gave him a notebook filled with drawings and poems, song lyrics and other random bits and pieces (100 Things I Love About You) and a Beanie Baby kitten. He gave me an Emily the Strange picture book and a box of drawing pencils his brother the artist had helped him pick out. Aside from the notebook (which I had intended to be a Christmas gift, just didn’t finish it in time), nothing we shared with one another, in the way of gifts, was explicitly a “Valentine’s gift.” There weren’t any hearts, no oversized stuffed animals, no chocolate, just gifts we could have easily given on a random Tuesday.

2005 and 2006 – Single.

2007 – Cameron. I believe we talked on Valentine’s Day while we were….whatever we were. We talked all the time and we were in a long distance relationship even if we hadn’t figured out that we were in a long distance relationship, so conversation probably happened. And it may have been, ironically, given my history, one of the few conversations between us that didn’t become overtly sexual.

2008-2014 – Single.

2015 – Micha and I had been talking, regularly, for about six weeks. On Valentine’s Day, proper, we didn’t talk. In fact, we didn’t talk for a week. When we finally did reconnect, I snapped a picture of a drawing I had done for him. A heart made of Conversation Heart candies with messages specifically designed to tell him a very specific story. Phrases like “U R Cute” or “Crush” or “I Dig You” covered my little candy hearts. It was one of the only times I could ever remember when making a big deal about Valentine’s Day actually seemed important to me. Strangely enough, as far as I knew, he felt the same way I always had about the stupid way people behave leading up to and on Valentine’s Day. But I enjoyed making a Valentine for him and he seemed to enjoy being given one.

And, now, once again, I am single, alone, and counting the hours until the oxalis start popping up in the “nursery” areas of my local grocery stores. I hate being alone on Valentine’s Day. Not because I desperately want a Valentine (although, sometimes I wonder if I might), but because the mentality surrounding the day is so degrading to single people. If you are single surrounded by coupled friends, you can’t help but feel left out. If you are single, surrounded by the general public, you are mollycoddled, placated, and patronized. If you are single, surrounded by other single people, you are dragged into some kind of tribal ritual to celebrate your independent singleness. Can’t we all just drink our green beer and watch our fireworks shows and shut up about it?