My good friend A was born on Valentine’s Day, an unfortunate date for a dedicated foodie like her, one of the top restaurant reviewers in London on Zomato. On Valentine’s Day, restaurants are full of amateur eaters, there is scarcely a reservation to be found, and you are likely to be presented with a “special” menu instead of the regular one. I’m sure she also receives the dreaded combo gift, much like those who are unlucky enough to be born anywhere close to Christmas. All right-thinking people know that a birthday gift is separate from a Christmas gift. I am lucky that my birthday is situated six months from Christmas, for optimal gift-giving. I have always found my birthday to be completely satisfactory.
On these Valentine-adjacent days, I look back and realize that Love is not something I am particularly good at. I was never one of those bridey girls, with wedding fantasies and dreams of gowns and bridesmaids. I never wanted to get married. I believe that you should be with someone until you don’t want to be, and that involving the state and/or church and/or everyone you know with unrealistic promises of forever is setting yourself up to fail. So it’s probably not all that surprising that I ended up getting divorced, though it may be surprising that I stayed married for 14 years or so.
I don’t consider that a failure. John and I had many happy years together, and he is a very special person. I am still his emergency contact, and if he called me in the middle of the night and needed me, I would not question it as I grabbed my keys and ran out the door. I will always love him in my own way. I have no idea how he feels about me, since we don’t talk about that kind of thing, even though we are in regular email touch, especially since he keeps me updated on my new love Frank and the happily flourishing kittens.
When I was young, A, who has been my best friend since we were about 17, was a model, so I was around a lot of guys who liked hanging around models. I was never intimidated by the models. I knew what they looked like without the makeup and lighting, and also I just enjoyed them, like flowers or pretty scenery. I still got a lot of male attention in those days, and my general strategy was to go to the guy’s place so he did not know where I lived, in order to avoid his showing up again. I rarely, if ever, spent the night.
I did have a couple of guys who stalked me, one of them showing up at my job when I wouldn’t call him back and the other one not only doing that, but standing outside my house and also telling me places he had seen me. Unfortunately, Guy Two and I had crazy chemistry together, so that drama went on longer than it should have*. He stood me up one Valentine’s Day, and my next-door neighbor at the time, who happened to be A’s ex-boyfriend (her way of breaking up with him was to move to Europe. Neither of us were good at ending relationships) came by with a heart-shaped piece of coke to cheer me up. Hey, it was the 80s!
Looking back at my extremely checkered (to the point of being tartan) past, it’s clear that relationships are not my forte. We can’t all be good at that kind of thing. At least I had the sense not to have kids. Can you imagine?
*He also got into a fist fight with one of the vice presidents at my office Christmas party once. I don’t know if it’s more amazing that I didn’t get fired or that I didn’t break up with him then.
A YEAR AGO: A power outage and a sink full of sewage. How romantic is that?
FIVE YEARS AGO: Driving around with boys.
TEN YEARS AGO: The excitement of snow! Probably not exciting to those of you where it’s a regular occurrence.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Walking the lovely Rita in the park. I miss her.