Thursday, February 14, 2013

After Black Valentine's

Fiancé just called me downstairs to the office lobby to hand-deliver his V-day gifts for me: a little flowering plant, a Blu-Ray of Pitch Perfect, and a punny card, because I text him puns on the regular.

Last year, he got me a Flaming Katy plant (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) and chocolate. Katy had flowers back then:

Here is this year's V-day plant, which I shall call Chloe, beside Katy, who lost her flowers and had a massive growth spurt in the past year:

Meanwhile, my officemates have been distributing chocolate and cookies like nobody's business. It's a fantastic V-day so far, and it'll only get better because we shall have a lovely dinner tonight!

But all this joy and delight comes after years of loneliness. Before this, I spent several years bemoaning my fate of being Forever Alone. But those years helped forge me into the strong, sassy, and sometimes shameless woman I am today.  Let me fill you in, because sharing is caring.

Back when I was finishing up with grad school, my then-boyfriend and I broke up. We spent five years together. Not three months later, he replaced me with a Brazilian model. True story. They canoodled on Facebook and wrote each other saccharine love messages. Devastated, I quit Facebook.

Still happy with that decision, by the way.

Years of singledom followed. It took me a while to realize how handicapped I had been by my reliance on another person to make me happy. I also saw that I created a narrative about myself ("I will marry whatsisface!"), and didn't have the emotional tools to cope when something disrupted that narrative.

My story is common. Many people in their early twenties make plans in their heads, only to be rudely awakened by the fact that, hello, it takes two to tango. Verily, the imaginary checklist that we as a society have compiled leads to much suffering. That checklist looks like this:

__ Earn college degree
__ Get job
__ Get married  
__ Have fat babies
__ Die in bed surrounded by adoring grandchildren

After the big breakup, I spent years with absolutely no hope of checking off the other items after "Get job." I resigned myself to my fate. It was a good deal, really -- I had my own money, my own place, my group of friends, and I understood the system here. When V-day rolled around, it was just another day.

Unbeknownst to me, in the same city where I slogged through life, Fiancé had a tradition going called Black Valentine's. It was basically a night of drinking where only single people could join.

In other words, he and I endured our own Black Valentine's for many years. Then we found each other and felt mutual attraction, and, on top of that, discovered our compatibility. Booyah.

Hey, he and I spent a lot of time being that single friend at parties. We understand. I know that not everyone needs to partner, and some people shouldn't inflict themselves on others.

But, oh, the sweetness of having moved past Black Valentine's.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to a plate of chocolate, cookies, and Fun Dip to consume.

Happy Valentine's.