Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Cynicism

Love is throwing yourself into a volcano for those last moments of happy togetherness. (Image lifted from  the Reduced Shakespeare Company.) 

It's Valentine's Day.

At this point, I'm cynical enough to dislike the holiday and old enough to not care. There are some wonderful things about turning 30, the least of which is the death of teenish hopes in romantic gestures by people you barely know on a day that wouldn't be important if Hallmark didn't deem it so. Seriously, guys. It's not romantic, it's creepy. Don't let Hollywood tell you differently.

Of course, my first boyfriend might say that the very same cynism was around even during my adolescence, terrified as he was to give me flowers and chocolate only to have his jugular ripped out by the sight of romantic weakness. Instead, he shaving creamed "Happy V-Day" down the side of my parents' giant blue Astro van while I was finishing an AP Chemistry test. I stayed at school late that day, running an experiment or a study group of some sort. By the time I saw my surprise, the rain melted the script into a somewhat menacing and snarling frowny face. After I puzzled out the meaning in a nearing twilight, I was quite flattered.

The next Valentine's Day he broke up with me. Could have seen that coming, right? I dropped high school and flew to Scotland for a nanny job, leaving the whole mess behind me. Ah, young love.

I know it's a self perpetuating cycle. I clearly communicate that I don't trust men and their affections would be better spent on a less intelligent and easily flattered sprig in her early twenties. (I don't believe that she is less intelligent, of course, but perhaps due to insecurity, she presents a hyper-femininity to stroke a weak male ego and years of male attention have reinforced this persona into a strongly fortified shell against the potential of who she can be.) They do this and I'm left disappointed. The inability of men to puzzle the question "Why the weak ego?" or "What is wholeness and growth?" an apparent epidemic of our 20th century culture.

Of course, I create the world I want to see. Lately, that world has been riddled with male entitlement, porn, weakness and addiction. But, if I breathe and draw a frantically bitter mind off the brink of a destructive worldview and back into my body, I start to see a different scenario. My impenetrable shell of under attachment and cynism isn't due to the lack of pursuing and eligible suitors, but a deep desire for a break from it all. I want to be single. I need a pause in my life, where I can live life for me, pursue the dreams I have, and see where it takes me. In what ways am I allowing entitlement, weakness and addiction run/ruin my life that I'm blind to and not addressing? This is the question that expands out of my chest when I take a breath and it holds me in the present. Where is my ego weak and sensitive to the slightest provocation? Where am I stunting myself to wholeness and growth?

It would be nice to be doted on, Valentine's Day or not. But perhaps I am doted on already by family and friends but I am not in a place to understand or accept the doting. A short list consisting of the following comes to mind, to make this statement more truth than hypothesis:

  • Last weekend, I had surgery to remove my wisdom teeth. For two days, my dad offered to blend anything into a liquid that met my fancy. Soup, french fries, cookies, fish sticks. Nothing was safe from my dad and his blender. 
  • Several days ago, a very close friend offered to pay for an Avalanche class because an upcoming layoff has left me more than little worried about finances. 
  • My two month old niece is a relational prodigy with her recently developed smile. She coos to get your attention, studies your face, then responds with the largest of aunty melting smiles. 
  • In the International District, the first of the boldest cherry trees have started blooming. Fragile and new, they brave their pink against the incessantly grey February sky. 

My question this Valentine's Day is not in regards to woe and bitterness but rather, how can I fully dote on the people in my life who mean the most to me?

How do you dote on the people who mean the most to you?


  1. As you would probably guess: with food. I would say with snarky comments, but I give those to everybody.

    I am not buying cards, candy, lingerie etc. for V-Day this year. I'm just making Chris an awesome meal.

    I also recommend looking up the history of St. Valentine to ease your cynicism. He was just a dude who performed (then) illegal marriages for Christians. Which I think anybody, except oddly a few Christians, can get behind.

    1. I love your food. And your snarky comments.

      According to Wikipedia, our current manifestation of Valentine's Day (i.e. chocolate giving and sappy notes) was made famous by Chaucer and the rules of courtly love. Now there's an idea to get behind, in that, Courtly Love was a farce and we should definitely not get behind it.

      Enjoy your V-day meal, failed mousse and all. :)