Happy Valentine’s Day, gorgeous readers! This year I finally embraced my inner lovesap and bought decorations for Valentine’s Day. These declarations of affection have been cheering my apartment for three weeks now, and I’m a little sad at the prospect of taking them down after today. I think the reds and pinks take the edge off of the white-walled mental asylum look that I’ve been coming home to for the past year. Am I allowed to keep these pretty things up until the next holiday, St. Patrick’s Day? (In either case, I could really use a stepstool if I’m going to make this decorating thing a habit. Right now I drag my kitchen chairs around my apartment and hop up to hang things.)
I haven’t always been on good terms with Valentine’s Day. In fact, my saddest, loneliest Valentine’s Day was a year when I was in a relationship, but it was disintegrating right under my feet. I didn’t know it at the time, but a few short weeks later, the romance was officially over, and I felt the strangest mixture of sadness and liberation, like, Ah, yes, now I can move on with my life. It sucks to be alone again, but at least I can focus on taking care of myself and not worry about him any more!
Not too long after that dark and strange February, I decided to make my peace with love’s holiday. It struck me that letting the same day get me down every year was ridiculous, and I was ready to turn over a new leaf. In my mind, I made Valentine’s Day even bigger than it was out there in the real world. I made this holiday my own day to celebrate love in all its forms: friendly, family, nature, self. Romance wasn’t really on my agenda, so I just ignored it for a while. As I was doing this, that dark, gloomy feeling that used to settle on me when I thought about how alone I was, how my romances never worked out, how men didn’t ask me out—that gloomy feeling started to fade. I felt lighter and less alone, knowing that I was always in good company if I was by myself. And eventually, romance found me again.
Here’s the funny thing about romance: it’s not really a happy ending after all. It’s more like an on-going story, one with ups and downs and twists and turns. I feel blessed every day with Matt in my life; he is truly one of the sweetest men I have ever met. Still, it’s not a happy ending with him. With the distance between us, it’s hello and good-bye and I miss you and I can’t wait to see you! Last week we even had a fight (a misunderstanding, really), and then we had to figure it out together. Is fighting romantic? Hardly. But there was something really good and strong about the way we handled it. For me, it was sort of a relief to get mad about something and then talk until I wasn’t mad any more. Usually I’d rather hide in a closet than talk about my anger with the person who is upsetting me. This time was different, and it was good. I’m also glad Matt chose to stay with me instead of getting a room at the Hilton—I’d like to think that he had more fun and romance with me than he would have at the hotel, but one never knows about these things.
During our fight, Matt offered to come back again soon—a sort of impromptu visit as a goodwill gesture. Usually we go a long time between visits because his work schedule is insane, and I’m (mostly) content to honor his calendar. As it happens, the weekend he suggested is the weekend of the Armadillo Dash, my half-marathon in March. I feel sort of guilty that by getting mad, I am being rewarded with another visit. On top of that, I’ll have a race sherpa*, someone to drive me to and from the race, someone to hold my things, someone to cheer for me when my legs are folding beneath me. It seems so manipulative: just get mad and you get what you want! The truth is that I didn’t want anything; I was just mad about what happened. Perhaps that is what absolves me of any accusations of evil-doing. I wasn’t trying to be manipulative, and in fact, when Matt and I were talking about this, I said, “I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.”
He replied, “You can’t make me do anything.” He didn’t say it with malice. It was just a statement of fact.
And I laughed. It was true. I think a little ice melted between us too.
And that, my friends, is how my half-marathon has turned into a race for two. I was totally anticipating a solo day, and I would have been fine and happy with that. But I’d be a fool to turn down a chance to share the day with my companion, the one who sent me an e-mail before my first half-marathon entitled “E-cheering section.” Matt and I have shared a lot with each other—he even took me to the driving range with him! And I’m not a golfer, believe me. Why not add half-marathons to the list?
(But because I love him, I’m going to offer to let him meet me at the end of the race. The man needs his rest, and I hate waking him up, especially at some dogawful early hour in the morning. We’ll see what he says.)
* Thank you, Kate O., for introducing me to such a fabulous racing term! (I also stole “dogawful” from her. Heh!)