Soundtrack in my head: United Future Organization, “My Foolish Dream”
The main character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind said, “Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” Do I feel that’s true?
At our house meeting on Sunday night, we usually check in with a random question designed to help us get to know each other a little better. The question for that evening was “How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?” My response was that if I’m in a wonderful relationship, I love it—if not, then I don’t. Which means that for most of my adult life, I haven’t exactly loved Valentine’s Day.
I was recently thinking about an anonymous love note I received in my senior year of high school. I’d almost completely forgotten about it until I paged through my yearbook from senior year and that’s where I re-discovered it, twenty years after the fact. Apparently I’d thought it would be an interesting thing to hold onto.
I remember I had not paid much mind to the note at the time, even though it was a very sincere one. The writer of the anonymous valentine complimented me on my newly pierced ear (a pretty radical thing for a white guy to do in Oak Park, Illinois circa 1985), told me she thought I was unique and cute, and said that she noticed me right away at a party a few weeks before. She concluded by saying that she was too shy to reveal who she was.
I think I paid it little mind to the note because the writer wouldn’t reveal herself, and I was close to graduation anyway. I might recognize the face of the writer if someone showed me her high school picture. But it was somebody I would have known only for a fleeting few weeks or months.
It’s pretty funny when I think about it in the context of my dating and relationships since. Over ten years ago I was engaged and got within six months of the altar, but I’m glad we didn’t follow through on it. Since then I’ve been pickier and more careful—some might say too careful. But I’m also living, more or less, the lifestyle I want to lead, which would not have been possible had I gotten married. Now that I’m at the cusp of forty, I’m thinking a lot about marriage again. I would still rather be single than unhappily married, but, well, that longing is kinda there…
Today, at the co-op house, I discovered that someone in our house had taped a carnation and a chocolate heart to the door of each individual bedroom in the house. It didn’t take us long to guess who was responsible—we have one housemate that often refers to the rest of us collectively as “lovers,” though not in the literal sense. That kind of made my day. Conversation at dinner was more animated and warm than usual, and I think about how great it is to live here and belong here. We’ve had married couples live here before, and I think it would be nice if I was married and living here.
Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day 2007. This kind of Valentine’s Day is good, too–for now.