A rose, a heart shaped lollipop, and a pink heart card could be on their way to your betrothed during Westlake High School’s 5th period class on Valentine’s Day, if you paid the $2 price tag. Your eyes dart toward any sound from the hallway the day of, wondering whether a rose would come their way this year. The irony behind the love filled fundraiser was that I organized and handed out this symbol of love.
With acne that made me consider getting bangs and an aura of awkwardness, I lived in a semi-happy existence channeling a loveless spinster. To clarify, it was not a profitable fundraiser, $2 for a rose? I had begged our vice principal to go to the Los Angeles flower market at three in the morning to purchase the cheapest flowers – the market and the surrounding area being a place in which the words “safe” and “charming” do not come to mind – to no avail.
In high school, I longed to be a rose recipient. Longed for the time that I would understand what love was. What I gathered from watching Four Weddings and a Funeral, scrolling Instagram, seeing the head cheerleader with a teddy bear the size of a small gorilla holding a bouquet, was that love was filled with grand gestures.
Love seemed like endless happiness, presents, and conversations in the rain, and because of this I loathed and wished for it. I did not think of the costs of having a day for love because my desire to be a part of the club outweighed my judgment. February 14th symbolized the day of romantic elitism, separating the people in love from the “others”.
I internalized the Hollywood idea of love as the solution to all my problems. I assumed I wasn’t allowed into the club because I was not lucky. So I tried to gain luck by liking the worst people, expecting the best of them, and assuming the whole thing would end with a huge box of chocolates addressed to me. My favorite “bad” boy was a footballer who once told me “I don’t want to date you because I want to marry you.” Somehow that fueled my longing for him.
Last year, I sat ready for my first valentine’s day in a real relationship with someone my friends and family also confirmed was a good decent human being. I assumed all my feelings about the day had been magically erased from my mind because I myself had changed and done the impossible: got into a relationship.
A few weeks before the day I was sitting around with my boyfriend and another couple. I brought Valentine’s day up and assumed they had plans, “Well no, we don’t really believe in the day itself.” Without a beat my boyfriend replied the same thing. Wait… but I thought it was supposed to be different? Don’t people’s feelings change once they are allowed in the club?
It took some time for the reality of Valentine’s from the other side of the fence to set in. I found myself asking why I should suddenly be supportive of a day that excluded me for so long and filled me with frustration? Yes, I like flowers. I love chocolate. I (secretly also) love cuddly things. So why did it not feel right to participate in the holiday that I finally had a ticket to?
Moreover, why was I allowing this single day to have such a hold over me, dictating when I should enjoy the superficial and the more emotional aspects that come with the celebration of love? Even if I did take part, I wouldn’t be doing Valentine’s day the right way. Putting so much pressure on that one day might leave me questioning whether I gave enough flowers or chocolate or love for the person I’m supposed to love more than anything on the day.
In all honesty, it feels forced. Why should this be the day I express my love? Is the amount of love in my relationship not important the rest of the year? Do we need to subscribe to a consumerist declaration of gifts and cards?
Love has ebbs and flows. There are days I am selfish, moody, and too opinionated at the dinner table, and I feel almost incapable of love. Other days I am truly an affectionate nightmare: clingy, cuddly and a glutton for the phrase “I love you”. It does not seem possible for me to purposefully generate or contain the “good” emotions in just one particular day?
To my younger self – I am sorry to admit it, but the Valentine’s day grass isn’t greener on either side of the fence. But while there is a plethora to complain about in regards to forced, consumerist celebrations of love, cheap discounted chocolate is is not something to turn your nose up at.