I wasn’t sure if they’d celebrate Valentine’s Day in Eesti, but the somewhat alarming invasion of the giant heart-shape balloons et al into all the shops and malls recently made it clear that this is a widespread celebration. It’s the only “celebration” I know of that seems to unfailingly make more people miserable than happy, which is an intriguing characteristic for a celebration to have, I feel.
When you’re single, you feel either depressed and lonely and left out of this day of coupledom, or you announce that you don’t give a damn and instead spend the day (and the run-up to it) complaining bitterly about what a waste of money it is, polluting the air with your lemonesque vibes and draining the fun out of it for anyone who does enjoy it. No matter what you claim to feel about it, however, there’s always that faint sense of anxiety mingled with hopeful expectation, which shatters as soon as the postman arrives and the ony thing he’s brought you is a phone bill and a flyer for Domino’s Pizza’s special Valentine’s Day offer.
When you’re in a couple, it’s most likely that both of you will go with the flow and announce your scorn for the occasion, and there is no sense of anxiety or panic about being alone for Valentine’s Day because (a) you’re not and (b) even if you were, the whole thing’s nonsense anyway, right? But you’re caught in the law of St. Valentine nonetheless – Jo over at Please Don’t Eat With Your Mouth Open makes a very good observation in her most recent post, where she says that Valentine’s is a day when couples do things together, “if only because it would be weird if you didn’t. Like if you just decided to go out with all your mates on Valentines Day when you were in a couple, that would be odd.” So no matter how much someone in a couple moans about the hype surrounding V-Day, they’re still going to hope for, nay, expect some expression of love on the day. So not getting said expression of love when you’re pretty much exempt from the Singleton Panic by virtue of being part of a couple, is about ten times worse than not getting anything when you’re single and didn’t expect to get anything, even though as a single person you would still have been hoping and secretly crushed when you didn’t…. do you see?! Do you see how much trauma and anxiety is woven carefully into this day? Bevchen sums it up very well in today’s post at Confuzzledom, and has posted that fabulous poem by Liz Lochhead, I Wouldn’t Thank You For A Valentine. Go and take a look if you don’t know it – I think it’s a perfect reflection of how this day makes most women feel, whether they care to admit it or not!
I was never the receiver of countless Valentine’s cards. I’ll always remember my first ‘real’ card (the ones my Great Aunt Eileen sent to The Sister and me from “Guess Who” when we were children don’t count), when I was in first or second year at school and had a crush on a boy at the youth club. Boys never noticed me. I was a bookish girl, a bit of a geek, lanky and awkward, usually hiding in a corner and peering nervously over my glasses at all the cool people. Thankfully I am now super-cool and confident, and as I mentioned in last year’s Valentine’s blog post, often find myself drowning in a sea of fluffy toys and red roses from devoted admirers at this time of year.
Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t get a card. I never had before, and I wouldn’t this time. It was impossible. Except it wasn’t, and I did. There it was on the mat – a big card addressed to me! It didn’t say much, but I clutched it in trembling hands the whole way to school, my heart singing, looking at the card every five seconds to make sure that it was real. I wanted to believe that there was a remote possibility that it could be from the boy at youth club, but even if it wasn’t, it was still a card, from a boy, to me, and this was something of a miracle.
My friends were as incredulous as me. Who’s it from? Could it be from HIM?! Let me see the writing! What boys do you know? (I went to an all girls school, and quite embarrassingly I really didn’t know very many boys at all until I was about 17 or 18.) I shared their disbelief, but with the smug joy of one who is living in an impenetrable bubble of happiness because someone actually sent her a Valentine’s card.
This lasted for approximately 25 minutes into the school day, when someone asked to see the envelope and casually pointed out that there was no postmark. I stared at it, and saw with a sinking heart that there were some squiggly lines in place of the postmark. A cynical being might suspect that they had been drawn on to give a vague appearance of a postmark. But how would it have gotten on to the doormat of our house without a postmark?
The bubble burst. It was a very nice morning, though, while it lasted. And since then, I’ve always known since then that someone cared enough to send a Valentine to an awkwardly shy adolescent who just wanted to be like the other girls and share a bit of the attention for once.
Thank you Mum, for my first Valentine. And I love you, too. :)