Valentine’s Day in elementary school is when you found out which girls “liked” you and which didn’t.
We all made those little Valentine’s Day card boxes out of shoe boxes we decorated.
Then everyone in your class would give one another Valentine’s Day cards and candy.
Most of the time, you just signed your name on the back of the little rectangle card.
But if a girl liked you, you got a bonus note.
“I think you are very nice and sweet and I hope you like the candy I gave you. I gave you more than the other boys because I want to be on you.
“<Insert random girl name here>”
Only part of that is made up.
And then you make eye contact, if she wasn’t fidgeting nervously at her desk.
Does she want to talk on the phone?
Does she want to hold hands?
Does she want to “go together”?
Sweet. Simple. Drama-free.
You eat candy hearts. And Sweet Tarts. And you open all your cards, ignoring the ones from Chad and Jim and the other Matt and John and the Bills.
And your heart flutters because Erin dotted the “I” in her name with a heart.
Because you got a cute note from Kelly or Lisa or Deanna or Jill or Sarah or Kim or Stacey or Leslie or Gretchen. Or whoever.
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get better than that.
Free candy NOT from a creepy white van AND notes from girls so you don’t have to read between too many lines.
How great would that be as adults? If all the single people got together and exchanged candy and Valentine’s Day cards with cartoon characters on them, with little notes?
You don’t have to answer that because I already know it’s one of the top-three best ideas ever.
(Note to self: Try to invent a Valentine’s Day for single people party in 2015 to do this exact thing.)
A Brief History of February 14
Roman Emperor Claudius II executed—not one, but two—men with the name Valentine in the 3rd century. Both in different years. Both on February 14.
Claudius thought Valentine’s Day was bullshit before it was cool to think so.
The Catholic Church honored those men as martyrs and dubbed the occasion St. Valentine’s Day before later removing it from the church calendar in 1969.
There’s no evidence linking the sex act of 69ing to this occasion. In fact, it’s widely speculated inside my brain that 69ing was happening before 1969. But Wikipedia doesn’t know, so I don’t either.
I was never particularly good at this Valentine’s Day thing.
A year ago, I was excited to get a red envelope from my wife. We’d spent more than a year sleeping in separate bedrooms. Hope?
I opened the card. A card for Dad.
A scribbled signature from my son.
It’s the kind of thing you appreciate, of course, but it’s also the kind of thing that rips your guts out.
I didn’t expect Valentine’s Day to bother me much this year.
When I first thought about it, realizing it was a Friday, I knew I’d either have my son at home (and I do!) or I’d go get wrecked with some single people who are in the same boat I’m in.
Either way, I had a plan.
I scrolled through my Facebook feed earlier. Lots of nice notes from friends to their spouses.
Couples I have memories of doing couples things with.
There were a few pangs. Nothing I can’t handle.
You know what I’ve been wondering a lot lately? What my ex-wife thinks and feels on a day like this.
Does she ever think about me?
Or does she think about him?
Or does she think about some new guy?
Or maybe nothing at all?
I don’t know. And it really doesn’t matter. I can’t help it. It just pops in there.
That’s what she said.
One of the more-selfish life observations I’ve made as my years have advanced is how we gravitate toward people sometimes—not because of how much we like them (even though we do!)—but because of how they make us feel about ourselves.
It’s crazy. Do you really like that person? Or do you just like how they make you feel?
Is there even a difference?
I don’t know.
I like how you make me feel.
I want to like you unselfishly. I try to. I hope you feel that way.
But, really? Other than my son who I will shower with affection this weekend?
No one makes me feel as good as you do.
I try to write every day. I try to leave a little slice of my soul in each post.
And so many of you hit the pause button on your busy lives to drink a little of it.
I’m sure some of you roll your eyes and hate it. Thank you for not telling me.
Maybe others smile, like it, go on with your days. Thank you.
Others take a minute to hit that “Like” button. Thank you.
And others still take a few extra minutes to be part of the conversation. Almost always, you have something thoughtful, supportive, empathetic, kind, encouraging and/or funny to say. Thank you.
You’re my Valentine.
A friend. A reliable one. Giving me so much of what’s been missing in my life for so long.
The encouragement to believe in myself. To believe that I can be so much more than just some corporate nobody. That I can punch these keys and it can matter. To someone. Maybe you.
Someday, someone is going to give me a second chance at feeling alive. I can’t wait to meet her.
But in the meantime, it’s you.
You’re giving me a second chance to feel alive.
And that means so much to me every day.
But it really means a lot on my first Valentine’s Day.
My first Valentine’s Day where something’s missing.
But here you are. Reminding me to breathe. Giving me hope.
You are very nice and sweet and I hope you like the candy I gave you. I gave you more than the others because I want to be on you.
Some of that is untrue.
But this isn’t…
I love you.