I’ve never really liked Valentine’s Day. And it’s not because I’m a cynical singleton with too many cats (that’s merely a coincidence). It stems from a deep-seated belief in showing affection and gratitude to our loved ones every day – not just when Hallmark tells us. Let’s not make something as wonderful as love corny and commercialised.
But I’m not here to rant. I’d like to tell you a story about a memorable Valentine’s Day. I’d been seeing someone for about a year, and February 14th was fast approaching. Always the anti-Valentine’s lass, I told him I didn’t really want to do anything for it.
‘But you should do something!’ said my housemate. ‘He’ll definitely get you a gift. At least buy him a card!’ Not wanting to make him feel bad, I followed her advice.
He came over on Valentine’s Day. I’d hidden the card inside a copy of The Great Gatsby, which was languishing, unread, by my bed. It was there on standby, like an emergency Christmas present.
He came over. And then he left. To go to another girl’s birthday party. The card stayed hidden inside The Great Gatsby until I found it and threw it away a few months later.
That would be reason enough to cringe at the very notion of Valentine’s Day, right? But, thank God, that’s not what I remember most on February 14th.
I think about the year I came home, newly single, to a rose on my bed from an old friend who didn’t want me to feel forgotten. And the time my mate mailed me a thoughtful care-package of heart-shaped treats. And in 2017, when my work wife lovingly gifted me flowers and chocolates so I could enjoy romantic swag like everyone else.
The irony of my best Valentine’s Days being spent as a singleton isn’t lost on me. Although perhaps it’s not ironic at all.
Why? Because gal pals are the best. Perhaps it’s a bit hypocritical to choose Valentine’s Day to share these stories, especially after saying you should show love and gratitude all year round, but I wanted my friends to know how much I adore them with this little love letter. And this time, I’m not hiding it inside a book.