Author Roxane Gay wrote a beautifully concise essay for The Guardian about Valentine’s Day. If I have to assemble a survival kit for the pink-and-red onslaught, I would include it. Among the many meditations about today, this paragraph leaps out as a reminder:
This year, I am surrendering to Valentine’s Day – willingly. It is far too exhausting to invest so much energy in disliking a holiday that, at its purest, is designed to celebrate love.
I feel ambivalent about today. Like Gay, I hated Valentine’s Day, now I just tolerate it. It’s like mosquitos during a Manitoba summer, having a few bites doesn’t stop a person from enjoying the day. Today is like any other day. We have the Louis Riel Day long weekend, I took a couple of vacation days last week to make a mini-holiday, and Richard Armitage recorded love poems for Audible.com. I would also put them in the survival kit.
Thanks to the magic of Tumblr, I would have never found out about the collection. It’s Richard Armitage, love poetry, and it’s FREE! (For a limited time only of course.) It’s a good cross-section of poets from Edgar Allan Poe to e.e. cummings. I quickly downloaded the collection, and began listening to it on my morning commute. It’s amazing how Armitage’s reading of Sonnet 116 made my crammed commute a little easier. I even played it again on the way home. I pulled out my earphones, my smart phone, and mentally having a conversation to him at the end of a long day. I had a long day. Read me home, I thought. It beats thinking about what to cook for supper, or making calls, or anything else. It makes things tolerable.
I also discovered another thing while listening to those poems. Once I really, really believed in them. I used to believe all those fairy tales about love, about finding ‘the one’, and worked really, really hard to make myself ready for that person. Roxane Gay’s essay talked about expending energy on hating Valentine’s Day, and the way we throw the word ‘love’ around. I find myself very careful with the latter over the past few years. I say ‘I really like (blank)’. I really like these poems, I really like Richard Armitage, and the word love gets saved for the important aspects of my life.
As for the former, the part about the fairy tales, I find myself in a grey area. I can’t take a cynical view of love as I see many happy couples, in fulfilling relationships, and it happened after a period of self-reflection or just not looking. I admire the guts it took for Ms. Gay to write I don’t know if I will ever marry, though I hope to. I stopped hoping for marriage. My mom keeps telling me about this cousin marrying at 50, and I very gently told her I am not that person. I elect to stay home on Saturdays. I took down my Match.com profile. I started to look at a life without marriage ever happening. February 14th feels like just another day, I stopped fighting the pink-and-red onslaught and decided to survive it.
Today I will stay home, watch Richard Armitage’s swoon-worthy performance in North and South, before I start seeing him as the less swoon-worth Francis Dollarhyde on Hannibal. (Trust me, I saw ‘Manhunter’ and ‘Red Dragon’-this should be interesting for the cravat crowd in the fandom.) Happy pink-and-red onslaught day. May your survival kit be ever fortified with good things giving you joy.