I’m married to someone I love, and we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and I think we’re both okay with that. When I got home from work Saturday night at 11:00 p.m., I wouldn’t have minded going out to celebrate the death of Justice Scalia, (I know that’s horrible, but toward the end, so was every decision that man made, and he hurt a lot of people) but Adam wasn’t feeling so great, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants open. So we didn’t. I would have also called it our nine month wedding anniversary.
Valentine’s Day was spent sleeping half the day, doing some grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and ferret food and getting ready for working the midnight shift. You know, doing fascinating stuff.
Why don’t we celebrate? Because to us it feels contrived. Look, I know it’s nice to do romantic things with your partner, but I like romantic things to be spontaneous, not because a calendar has a little picture of a heart on it, and the stores had to put something on the shelves between Christmas and Easter to keep people buying stuff.
Adam worked retail for years, and I worked in restaurants in college, and that kind of killed it for both of us in a way. That said, I can list a couple of memorable Valentine’s Days. Not because they were “romantic,” either.
One of my favorite Valentine’s Days was the year my college friend Amy and I were both single, and had nowhere to go, and we did what we did just about every night – we decided to hang out on the little foot bridge that used to exist between a bunch of run down fraternity houses and the marching band practice field on campus. That night, before going to that bridge, which spanned a little ditch, we went to a little gas station/convenience store. I don’t think the place exists any more. Hell, the road it used to be on is probably gone. The bridge is gone, the fraternity houses have been torn down to make way for more brick buildings… it would be depressing, but what is in its place is certainly more useful and more aesthetically pleasing.
At the convenient store, I purchased a bag of campfire marshmallows, and some safety candles. We found sticks on the field, and roasted marshmallows over safety candles. Amy smoked her usual Marlboro Lights, we talked about everything and nothing – it’s funny how she and I never seemed to run out of things to talk about. And when we finally decided that it was too cold, or that we had enough of sitting on that bridge playing troll, we got into my van and drove down what we fondly called “Psycho trail” – a series of streets we would drive down that led past places that were significant to us for various reasons.
We used to do a lot of complaining, Amy and I, about how difficult we thought our lives were. But I remember that even through the complaints, we knew… We knew that we were playing at it.
“You realize,” she said, “That some day, we’ll probably look back at all of this, and think about how much fun we had.”
When we were young, we thought everything was so consequential. Everything we did felt larger than life. If we failed at anything, whether it was a quiz, or a job, or love, it was shattering.
We were adults then, and we are adults now, but with more time and experience, we realize that life is a series of failures, and that moments of pure joy are the exception rather than the rule.
Marshmallows over safety candles are still awesome, and so are late night drives and conversations.