For the past several Valentine’s Days, I spread the love. Not having a “special someone”, I chose to express my feelings to all those who held a special place in my heart. In college, I baked cookies for all my friends. Last year I gave strangers free lipstick and shared the love with you, dear readers. The year before, not wanting to think of my recent vomitrocious breakup, I mailed out silly cards modeled after vintage Valentines.
This year I did nothing. I put nothing in the mail, nothing in the oven. I didn’t buy a round for Miranda and Charlotte when we celebrated “Galentine’s Day” on the 13th. I sent no texts nor even Facebook messages. I didn’t even call my parents on Valentine’s Day- I called them at 12:13 AM on February 15th. (Before you call me an ungrateful daughter, remember it was still February 14th for them on the west coast!) I could say I bought flowers for the apartment- they sit in the kitchen for all to enjoy. But honestly I bought them selfishly for myself. I always dreamed someone would get me Valentine’s Day flowers. After years of this never becoming reality, I realized I could get them for myself. They make me happy. It’s my chronically single tradition.
I can’t complain that no one got me anything for V-day. You can’t put out no effort and expect anything in return. I am no one’s Valentine and it’s entirely my own fault. Yes, it makes me a little sad. I am so lucky to have people in my life who love me and whom I love back. I should acknowledge them more. Yes, I know I don’t need a Hallmark holiday to do that, but it is nice.
So this Valentine’s Day I looked to other New Yorkers. To live vicariously through them. To be inspired by their gestures of love. There is nothing like walking the streets of New York, taking the train, and seeing so many with arms full flowers, balloons bouncing around their heads, stuffed bears peaking from shopping bags. I like to imagine their stories.
I made my way home last night after a very enjoyable event in Grand Central Station, a celebration of art sprung from Craig’s List’s infamous missed connections (more on that in a later post). I stood on the subway platform and desperately wanted to photograph all the tokens of St. Valentine that surrounded me. Emboldened by the two glasses of wine I had consumed at the event, I approached several. “Can I take your photograph? I’m a blogger, just doing a little piece for Valentine’s Day.” I only asked four people, but they all said yes. In fact, it was a joy to watch their faces lighten up from typical-New-Yorker where-the-f*ck-is-the-train expression.
This is Caleb, the first person I approached. He looked friendly and I was struck by the beautiful, full bouquet of flowers he held in his hand. This was not a sad, generic looking bunch from a bodega. He had clearly put some effort into the assortment. “Who is your Valentine?” I asked him, and all others I approached. He replied simply, “My girlfriend.” I imagined her an adorable hipster-type, with ironic glasses and patterned tights. I like to think she made him dinner, a mix CD, and cupcakes spelling out I L-O-V-E Y-O-U for dessert. That she opened the door to greet him, squealed with delight at his bouquet, and flung her arms around his neck, “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie!”
This is Tasha and Kevin, whom I approached at Columbus Circle, obviously. The sheer number of balloons she carried was impressive, I only wished I could have seen them outside dancing in the wind. I interrupted their conversation to beg a picture and began to ask, “Is he your Val-?” Mid-sentence I rephrased myself, knowing how often I make situations awkward with such assumptions. “Who is your Valentine?” seemed safer.
“Him, unfortunately,” Tasha giggled.
“Good job with the balloons, man. That number shows a lot of love,” I said to Kevin.
“Thank you,” he said, “At least some one appreciated them,” he said, and grinned at his beloved.
I imagined them a couple who had been together on and off for years, only recently realizing they can’t live with out each other. They’d grow old together, and in 30 years, be that bickering old couple who makes your heart melt.
This man was in a hurry. Not waiting for the train, but coming off of one. I hesitated to ask for his picture, but did anyway, snapping this slightly blurry shot. I didn’t get his name, only asked who his Valentine was. “My wife,” he responded. I thanked him for stopping and he wished me a happy Valentine’s Day before quickly ascended the stairs. I imagined him rushing home to the love of his life, a woman who has stuck by him through thick and thin. I pictured him a man of few words, perhaps not one to always express himself. That gigantic balloon heart speaks volumes.
This is Ramon. I was a bit intimidated to approach him as he seemed standoffish, but the moment I opened my mouth his demeanor transformed to friendly and open. I was intrigued because Ramon appeared to be carrying a great number- at least five- bouquets of different flowers. His Valentine is “Devon”, a deliciously unisex name that left me unable to guess Ramon’s orientation. “And are all these flowers for Devon?” I queried.
“No,” Ramon stammered, clearly humoring me but a little out of his comfort zone with talking to strangers, “We are going to a group dinner, with my sister, some friends.”
“And your bringing flowers for everyone?”
“Yes, I don’t want anyone to be left out.” he replied.
My heart swelled a little, “That is so sweet. I’m sure you are going to make them very happy. Thank you for sharing that with me.”
I imagined this dinner party at a hip tapas restaurant in Chelsea. All Ramon’s friends there, stylish young professionals. I couldn’t imagine “Devon”, but I did imagine Ramon’s sisters face as it lit up with love for her kind and generous brother.
With these interactions, I was reminded of my love for this city. I suppose I did have a Valentine this year, the fabulous NYC. Cliché you say? That’s me!
Hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day! I’ve told you how mine was, I’d love to hear about yours!