Tissue paper hearts tucked away in well-loved books. Heart-shaped boxes, at one time teeming with candy, now empty and set on a shelf. Pink. Red. Cupid. Love. February 14 has come and gone. Safe in our rear-view mirror. The Valentine sweet rush has faded to a drowsy sugar crash.
I’m not a romantic. When my husband bent down on one knee to ask me to marry him, on a pier, under the moon with water gently splashing the sand below, I nailed him in the chest with my fist, pushing him to the ground like a turtle stuck on his back and covered my face. “Yes. Cut it out!”
My septic heart can’t even enjoy the sweetness of young love for long. My daughter, ten-years old, received a chocolate rose with a sweet note from a lovely young man, also ten. This boy has given my girl chocolate for Valentine’s for the past three years. Christmas presents and Halloween candy, too. Just a treat to let her know he thinks she’s special. Aww.
Blech. For some reason, romance has always seemed manipulative to me. Dishonest. Like the lover with the roses in hand is trying to trick me. Trick or treat? It’s a costume or a mask, romance is not real. It’s an imagined version of ourselves presented on a platter. To entice. Woo. Lure.
Valentine’s Day is a pastel knockoff of Halloween. You act differently than you do most of the year and give out candy but you don’t get to dress up in zombie masks, hang reapers from your oak tree or generally scare the hell out of people. Maybe, we paint over all the pink and start calling February 14th Second Halloween.
It. Goonies. Stranger Things. See the connection? Love of friends. Sure, there are romantic threads through lots of great stories. Romance is a catalyst. A starting point for, hopefully, a long and diverse tale.
My dad is suffering from cataracts and is almost blind. He’s completely deaf and because of his rheumatoid arthritis can’t use his hands to grip. Also, due to the RA, he has a hard time swallowing and can’t keep weight so he comes in at a whopping 100 pounds.
My mother survived stage three kidney cancer. She kicked breast cancer’s ass, as well, and recently had a cyborg pelvis put in to replace her own, wonky structure. She too is a wisp, 98 pounds soaking wet. Still, as they bump into each other inside their tiny kitchen, fetching treats for their new kitten, they are laughing and patting each other’s hands.
“We may be falling apart but at least were doing it together,” my mom grins and stares at the wall, thinking it’s me. It’s not romantic but its real and deep. It’s what comes after the beginning.
Romance is like candy. It’s a delicious treat every now and again but a steady diet is sure to play havoc with your brain and body. Cupid’s big day feels a little forced.
Sitting side by side at the doctor’s office, holding hands during a terminal diagnosis. Standing beside each other, weak and full of grief, while saying goodbye to a dying parent. Loving each other through the ugly. Real love. Epic love.
On this February 14, my husband waited for both girls to return from school and they all whisked out the door to pick up a surprise for me. When they returned, arguing about who chose the best present, they screamed Happy Valentine’s day.
My little one gave me a sweet crystal bear holding a red heart. Not surprisingly, I find this knick-knack on her bed side table more often than my own. My husband gave me the world’s biggest Hershey bar because he is very wise and my oldest passed me a pink and red card with a lovely lesbian couple on the front. Yup, we’ve got a big future ahead of us. I’ve got epic love.