I am a romantic at heart and always have been. Unfortunately, this optimism has never protected me from the fickle and cruel nature of love.
When I was six, I gave the boy I liked at school a homemade valentine’s card. It was made out of a folded piece of white A4 paper and on the front; I’d drawn a picture of myself and him in wedding attire. Perhaps I was a little forward, but I was sure this was the course of action to take to win his heart. I’d seen Four Weddings and a Funeral on VHS and it had taught me well. Wasn’t love all about grand gestures and walking down the aisle and getting soggy as you kissed in the rain? Of course, with my recent chickenpox scars and wobbly teeth, I was no Andie MacDowell. Still, I’d try my luck. I handed him the card in a corner of the playground and waited expectantly for his reaction. Quickly, he screwed it up into a ball and flung it into a nearby bin before walking away.
After that, I didn’t send a Valentines card for another fourteen years. The first half of my teenage years were a barren desert of love, accompanied only by the desperate tumbleweeds too tragic to find themselves someone. The later half was mainly filled with broken hearts and sharing cake. My first Valentines Day at University was spent in the dingy Student Union club with my also single friends, drinking our fair share of vodka and moaning about the couples lurking in corners that seemed to be permanently attached to one another’s faces.
By then, I had come around to the idea that Valentine’s Day was a load of rubbish. I no longer cared that I had no-one to share it with and became indifferent to the various cuddly toys and cheap cards that cluttered the shelves of our supermarkets. Yes, I was still a romantic- but surely making a special effort once a year was an insult to being in a relationship with someone? That was it. I was done with Valentine’s Day!
The next year, I barely even noticed Valentine’s arrival and instead signed myself up for a fifteen hour bar crawl with my closest friends. Half an hour in, I met a man at the bar who ordered a Guinness for his breakfast. I joked about it being a good choice. Next week, we’ll have been together two years. I might even buy him a card.