Do you remember how elated you felt at age 14 when roses were getting delivered to classrooms and one got placed on your desk? You almost inhaled it with your nostrils and wore a smile through the high school yard for the rest of the day because the world knew that you had somebody who loved you. Does that stain in your favourite paisley printed shirt still have the scent of that dumpster behind that bar where you fucked that nubile twenty something with a torso worthy of infomercials? You know the overly bronzed one you met on a dance floor a few hours after attending a couples Valentines dinner, the one where your friends thought inclusive was more constructive for your single ego than exclusion? What about that ticket stub cemented in the pages of your favourite book, does its texture still fill you with the sensations you felt seeing Grizzly Bear live with his hands interwoven in yours?
The month of love is upon us again and like a stale Hallmark card, jewellery advertisements and luscious florist window fronts are reinforcing just how desperately single we are, deluding us into believing that our partners love for us will be measured on February 14 by the worth of the gift we receive. February’s the month where singletons frantically attempt to fulfill their New Years resolution to find love by dating a string of unworthy singles. It’s the month that thirty-something fathers courting front packs look even more mouth-watering as they stroll down sidewalks with a bouquet in one hand and their child’s pacifier in the other. It’s also the month where office cubicles get flooded with floral décor deliveries, commitment rings are flashed in our faces like they are the new must have couture and the month when the world reminds us just how unashamedly single we are, all in the name of some patron saint called St. Valentine.
Yet while Valentines Day benefits some retailers, boosts bookings for hospitality venues and offers the floral industry one of the most lucrative bouquets of the year. What does Valentines Day really offer us? Does it assure us that our partner does in fact love us? Does it make us feel inadequate due to our inability to find something real that we want to love? Does it stir something inside of us to put ourselves out there more so that next February 14th we’ll be rejoicing in romantic splendor like a Rachel McAdams frame? For some Valentines Day showers us with gifts, for others it showcases forgotten affections, but for many it leaves us with a sense of emptiness. This emotional and physical void that we feel is just one of the many symptoms of St. Valentine’s love bites and whether the arrows shot by cupid has left us feeling lonely, unsatisfied or complacently falling out of love for a long time. On Valentines Day an increase of prescribed lovesickness dosages is mandatory.
Love Bite #1: Ghosts of Saint Valentines past
St. Valentine’s teeth marks have this intrinsic way of tearing at our subconscious and spilling out memories of what once was. If we’re single, view master slide reels of picnics we shared, meals that ignited our palates and those people who we believed were destined to be ours and ours alone for a lifetime come to the forefront of recollection. On the flip-side if we’re in a relationship the essence of what we once were in the honeymoon phase of us and the divide that has grown from love aging our relationship is unavoidably paramount. Yet while nostalgia is something to be cherished our past is our past for a reason. It didn’t work out with them because choices we made and actions committed by them contrasted the future we perceived for ourselves. As for the for the loss of liveliness that initially made us float like helium balloons each time our partner smirked at us while driving down the coast, that expression is still there. The problem is that our focus has shifted from what invigorates us with romanticized vivacity to where we should be as a partnership in relation to a predetermined timeline laid out by the judgement of others.
Love Bite #2: If I can’t have a partner I’ll at least go home with one
The dawning of a new year, wedding season fever and the abundance of summer love and affection being flaunted along cityscapes and beach shorelines, induces a fervour to date until we find something worthy for many singles and the influx of Valentines Day commercials just supercharges this frenzied compulsion. We find ourselves on dull dates that we’re itching to flee from, only be told by them immediately post dining that they’re not getting anything out of this date, so they’re just going to head home. We decide to take a chance on someone who is a little outside of our comfort zones and go home with them post a mediocre date. Only to find ourselves being pounded against a pillowcase that hasn’t seen a washing machine in months and waddling down a busy laneway in desperate need of some Aloe Vera gel and a stiff vodka. Sadly love is a battlefield and dating well it’s a tsunami, one with swells that are unpredictable, winds we’d rather not be releasing post sex and enough force to deflate our romantic notions of what love should be. But despite our single status and the series of lacklustre dates we experience on our journey towards finding someone real that we want to love. Our efforts and courage should be modestly lauded, because we are still looking. We still have this belief that we can find love, we still have the confidence to continue to let ourselves be vulnerable in front of complete strangers and we’re still not desperate enough to choose Ryan Gosling and an electric toothbrush over experiencing collisions of the heart and the bedroom.
Love Bite #3: All the Valentine’s Day’s we once had are lost
One of the hardest scars of St. Valentine to visibly acknowledge however is the one that can’t be healed. It’s the one that jewelry, a romantic dinner or any gesture of affection from our partner cannot mend. This scar is invisible to the world, our partner may even be blind to its presence. But we see it, we breathe it and we acknowledge its luminosity on a daily basis and Valentines Day, well that’s just another reminder of the veneer that our relationship has become. This scar is a result of actions made, mistakes brought to light and hurt felt and the cure for it is located within you and you alone. Its blemish can be shaded with your openness and from your decision to be frankly honest with your partner, what will unfold could be the most remarkable Valentines Day you’ve ever experienced. It won’t be memorable because of its act of love in the traditional sense, but it will change the future of your relationship because from telling your partner how lost you feel, how distant you have grown or that forgiveness was more impossible than you assumed. You and your partner will find a restored or renewed appreciation for your love as it was yesterday, as it could be tomorrow or as it should be today.
Ultimately no matter the symptoms that overcome you on Valentines Day, you should remember that this day shouldn’t be a chore. It also shouldn’t be an opportunity for you to be showered with expensive material items. This day is an opportunity for those who are single and those who are in a relationship to embrace the essence of you. So if you’re in a relationship don’t settle for dinner in a restaurant instead experience something new together, something that terrifies you or a position that is sure to take you both to a destination you’ve yet to travel together. And if you’re single and still patiently searching for that someone whose love is the new slang to your headphones. Leave the Katherine Heigl box sets where they belong and eliminate the impending ice cream and chocolate coma from your waistline by getting out there and experiencing Valentines Day on your own. Because whether you end up past out on your best mates sofa, dancing on your own to Whitney Houston on a dance floor or with a tongue exploring your gravel pit. Experiencing Valentines Day is a much wiser alternative to mourning it.
Lastly, if you do one thing this Valentines Day make sure you take a Saint Valentine Selfie of yourself or you and your partner. While this may sound like another hipster trend to clog up your Facebook newsfeed, this simple act is actually the easiest way to capture the essence of you or you and your partner at your purest. Fuck taking a picture of the food you share on the night, the gifts you receive or any other commercial gestures of love. Show the world what makes your love distinctly yours. So whether you take a selfie of yourself independently strutting to work this Valentines Day, capture a selfie of your partner cupcaking your face, sneakily take a photo of the view of your partner sleeping that makes you smile at 7am every morning or you Instagram a photo of you pulling out your best Solange moves with two buff himbos grinding your ass. Taking a solo selfie of the heart of you, that you love is the new rose in 2014, so #SaintValentineSelfie it with pride!
Written by Samuel Elliot Snowden