Dear Valentine,Yes, this is self-addressed, though no need for the stamp, as maybe you will allow a momentary grace period for that kinder, sweeter (though not in the Confectioner’s sugar sort of way), dare-I-say-more loving voice that occupies 1/1000th of your brain to speak on this, the day given over for L-O-V-E to speak. Though now that you bring up your disdain for anything trite (the hastily remembered supermarket Red Rose bouquet swathed in Baby’s Breath, the mass manufactured diamond cascade heart necklaces sold in the chain outlets, “Because nothing says You Love Her like…,” the pressured expectations of performative sex in brand new, itchy, ill-fitting lingerie). You can go on and on, right? All that loving sweetness sold in aisle 6.
But what about that lovely thoroughbred down at the barn that you used to feed a few sugar cubes to when you were done brushing him down after your riding lesson? His smooth, warm tongue against your palm quickly lapping up the sugar, crunching the crystals. A small gift for his patience with your human stupidity as you made mistake after mistake during your lesson, for his forbearance of your human weight on his back. And your own children? Seducing them with double-layer chocolate cake? You could be making them wheat grass smoothies for dessert or oatmeal raisin bars. But you want the oohs and aahs, the deep sighs of pleasure and the chocolate smeary kisses. There is love in all that.No need for embarrassment or shame. Remember when you were a little girl and you used to spend hours making Valentines for your friends and parents and crushes? Red construction paper, red foil, and white doilies. Intricate designs. Layered designs. Each card contained a specific intention and message. Not just a slapdash “I Love You” on the bottom of a factory made card. But “You Are Worth the Time.” “You are Worth the Effort.” “You Are One of a Kind.” “You Are Not Perfectly Aligned. But You Are Perfect To Me.”
What are all the loving words you need to hear from me today? You avoid hearing them all the time, choosing to listen to your more cynical self. Just today, you went searching for the origins of Valentine’s Day because you remembered a thread of the story and wanted to “prove” the holiday was truly one for sentimental suckers. Right? So yes, you found out the holiday has its origins in ancient Rome, when women would wait, willingly, in line for men to beat them with goat skins in the belief that it would increase their fertility, and then basically allow themselves to be raped for two days. Did you go to CVS then to see if there were any chocolate boxes depicting this scene on the cover?If you search for negative interference, that’s what you’ll find. If you want to let your defenses down for one minute—no Roman centurion is going to whack you with a goat skin, trust me on this—then you might be able to hear the message that girl is scribbling to you now—even though there is 30 years between you, even though she has not yet cut up her arms, or picked up a drink, or starved herself, or had a manic break--on that doily heart.
I Love You.
You Make My Heart Beat Like Crazy.I Will Never Love Anyone Like I Love You.
You Are So Beautiful To Me.Will You Be Mine.
That doily heart. Paper thin, so fragile. Like a real heart. Like her heart. Like your heart. But not like her heart or yours at all. Because the heart is a muscle, not paper at all, beating 100,000 a day, breaking over and over, but reassembling itself again and again in love, out of love, for love.