It was the Valentine’s Day directly after I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, just two months after we had ended it. Actually, he broke up with me. At Christmas. But that summer I had moved all the way to San Francisco to get away from him, so I suppose it was my fault to start with, and—it’s a long story.
Anyway. I was still depressed as hell and wondering what had happened because it was supposed to be my idea and I was all alone and miserable and lonely, walking down Turk street on my way to class. The fountain at the Blood Center had been dyed an unfortunate shade of pink to celebrate the holiday and it was the most terrible thing I had ever seen. I stood at the corner waiting for the light to change, trying not to cry so I didn’t worry the international students standing at corner with me and staring at me and then I had this great idea.
I wasn’t actually alone. I didn’t have a boyfriend—especially not a stupid one—but I had people who loved and adored me. I had amazing friends and an incredible family and I was abundant with, overwhelmed by, smothered in all the love I was lucky to have in my life.
Valentine’s Day didn’t have to be about pressure and romantic love and whining because I didn’t have anyone to buy me flowers and candy like I was some kind of fucking cliché. I loved and I was loved. Love was so much bigger than romance.
I pulled out my phone and I called my grandmother. I said, “I love you, grandma! Happy Valentine’s Day!”
“What?” she said. “Your mother said you don’t have that boyfriend anymore.”
“No, grandma, we broke up,” I said, slowing down as the sidewalk started to get steep.
“I bet you’re sad he broke up with you today,” my grandmother said.
I stopped at the bottom of the stairs leading up to campus. “I don’t care about boyfriends,” I yelled over the sound of the 31 pulling away from the bus stop, about to launch into my Grand Unified Theory of All the Love We Actually Have in Our Lives. The international students, who had all followed me up the sidewalk, also on their way to class, all looked at me with what I imagined was pity.
“You should get another one,” my grandma said, and then she put my mother on the phone.
Eventually I got another one, and I’ve got one right now, and I am very lucky in romantic love. I also still believe in my Grand Unified Theory of All the Love We Actually Have in Our Lives. I am very, very lucky to be loved the way I am. I am lucky in the friends I have and the family I’ve got and the people who let me love them and the people who love me back even when I’m a messed-up pile of junk. You’re very lucky in the people who love you, and the people you get to love too, you know.
Happy Valentine’s Day Eve, you guys, and Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I hope it overflows with an abundance of cake and chocolate and cheese and happiness and all kinds of love.