The last Valentine’s Day my ex-husband and I spent together ended at a little French creperie we frequented over the years since moving back east from Colorado. The cafe offered vegetarian options and ambience the fancier restaurant lacked. A married couple, a cozy cafe, a chatty, gregarious French owner, and made-to-order dessert crepes that melted in your mouth–pretty picture, if you didn’t look too closely at it.
This particular evening took place about nine months before the ex told me he hadn’t loved me for years and wanted a divorce. My body, mind, and teeth were in the final stages of decay and pain; still, I sat on the built-in bench with its menagerie of fanciful pillows along the wall, taking comfort in illusory intimacy. Across from me he sat, iPhone in hand and eyes on the screen. If I’d been the woman I am today, I would’ve pointed out his rudeness. Back then, I took pains to not call attention to myself.
Ah, but the rosy-cheeked owner noticed. He may’ve rested his hands on the ex’s shoulders when he said, “Why are you looking at a screen when your lovely wife sits in front of you?” As ugly as I was, I suppressed an urge to hug the romantic Frenchman for shaming him, for saying what I couldn’t.
I share this story as it’s one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. To be legally joined but worlds apart in the same room, as if Cupid himself abducted and forced his, St. Valentine’s, or Hallmark’s torturous day upon us. What we subjected ourselves to in denying and delaying truths. I carried several years’ worth of the ex’s Valentine’s cards in my purse. He wrote of my having all his love, loving me with all his heart…my last-ditch flotation device, those words, punctured and flat before the year was out.
Therefore, on this fourth day of my little Valentine’s Day guide, I offer these five suggestions:
Disconnect. Close your laptop, turn off the TV, the phones, iTouches, iPads, Xbox, etc. I’m not denouncing their positive attributes, but we rely on them too much. They distract us, knowingly or not. They ask so little from us, just our undivided attention, and it’s easy to give. Walk away from them for the day. Your attention’s needed and wanted elsewhere.
Discover. Each other. No, nothing New Age-y, unless you’re into that. Just make a list of a few things you’d each like to do. Share them. Keep an open mind. Agree on a couple and do them together. Oh, did I mention you can’t spend any money?
Dispense. There’s nothing sorrier than seeing hordes of men (and a growing number of women) scouring ravaged Valentine’s Day card displays the night before or worse, on the actual day. And put down the half-dead bunch of grocery store roses. What are you doing? Why? However introverted or embarrassed you may be, this year, destroy the myth that only a card and cheap chocolates can express what you feel towards each other.
Disclose. If ever there was a day to share a fantasy or dream with each other, make it this day. And yes, it’s fine if it’s from your list. The meaningfulness is in sharing it. Doing it. Or at least trying it. Even just a part of it. The excitement is in knowing he or she wants you to be a part of it.
Discard. Hang ups. Inhibitions. The urge to draw the blackout curtains. Insecurity. Each other’s clothing. If you can’t take sunshine or lights on, try candlelight. It looks good on everyone. Too quiet? Music’s fine. Music’s great.
Love is great. Celebrate it. Not a holiday.
The following article applies to all rooms at times: