Today is Valentine’s Day, and all over the English-speaking world and indeed in not a few other places, today will be a pink/red, flowers, chocolate and wrack-and-ruin kind of day. Wrack and ruin, because there will inevitably be those caught without Valentine’s cards, or those who get them from the wrong sort of people, which is almost worse.
I’ve never quite understood the appeal of metaphorical red whoopee cushions plastered all over everything, or even why February 14th should be such a great day for romance. Does that mean it’s dead every other day of the year? I see broken hearts and salty tears on several continents. “But you said you loved me!” “That was a year ago!” “But…you said…”
I don’t get it at all. Then again, maybe I’m too old for this kind of spiel, too cynical or just too jaded. So far as I’m concerned, Cupid is well and thoroughly dead. Valentine’s Day was invented by the Hallmark company and the people who invented the Whitman sampler, followed by whoever jumped on the bandwagon of opportunity for exploiting the guilt of those hapless souls who’ve been too distracted for “romance” the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year.
It’s all one big commercial washout, and I’m…out of it, above it, soaring above on a gust of snide derision. Silly fools. What do they know?
Here’s what I know. Cupid is dead. D-e-a-d. I’m getting divorced, and although that should be terrible, it’s not, really. If life has taught me anything, it’s the truth of that old maxim:
It’s not his fault, or my fault, because it’s not a question of assigning blame and pointing fingers and bewailing our lost illusions, because the sorry fact is, in love, we only delude ourselves. It just happened. One (very) early morning, I just woke up and realized, completely out of the blue, that I…wasn’t that person anymore.
I’m not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I’m going to look forward to all the things ahead of me – writing without distractions at my every opportunity, blasting my neighbors with very loud and obnoxious music, laughing with the friends I know I have and can count on, being able to live a bit more spontaneously and impulsively than before.
The last time I left a long relationship, I walked straight into another one. (He was that kind of guy.) That was a bad idea.
This time, I shall celebrate my freedom, celebrate life, and let nothing hold me back if I don’t want to. I can sit in a café for hours, setting the world to rights with a friend over latte, and try as hard as I can not to think of Colette and “Chéri”, because he’s a younger man, because I’m old enough to be his mother, because I don’t feel maternal in the slightest, because I’m that kind of filthy-minded woman who thinks in possibilities and it’s been a long, long time.
I can honor ten years of my life by not falling into that age-old trap of making my soon-to-be former husband into an enemy by default, simply by a applying a prefix called “ex-”. He’s a truly great guy, he’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had, he’s in many respects nearly perfect. I was with him ten years for a reason. In that time, I began to write, I began to grab the world by the tail and start getting in its face, I began to become the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be, as opposed to the kind of person other people expected. He has sat through countless reading sessions of both the Effing Book and That Other Book, the book that took both of us by surprise. He’s been my biggest fan from the beginning, and I suspect he will be until the end. Such a gift should be appreciated, so that’s what I’ll do.
On this Valentine’s Day, I’ll celebrate that I had that much, and I’ll celebrate that the future lies before me, full of possibilities. I’ll celebrate that I sense great things will happen in the coming year, and that I can play air guitar in questionable underwear all I want. I’ll celebrate the fact that I do have friends, I do mean something to other people, I do contribute in ways great and small to other people’s lives, and how cool is that, really?
Above all else, I’ll scrape up that dead Cupid off the floor, bury him beneath a mock jasmine bush outside, and wait for spring, and summer, and everything ahead, knowing that I have not given up on life, and certainly not love, so the odds are neither have given up on me! And there are not a few days left in this year for anything I want to happen.
I’ll make a wish tonight. And as even jaded former/present/diehard romantics will know –
Be careful what you wish for! You will get it!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Image: Not sure where to attibute it, but Olenska inspired it!