“YAAAAAY MY FAVORITE DAY EVER – February 14th!!! I wish this day was 36 hours long!!!!” said no single girl in the history of American Valentine’s Day. Which I looked up. This day was started a while ago. It sucked for people then, and it sucks for (most) people now.
Living in Brazil also means I get to “celebrate” this day in February AND in June. Which is actually fine, because lets be honest – I’ve never been upset about an opportunity to be dramatic and declare that calories don’t count because of the emotional toll of such a day and blogging about it for your entertainment. The least the universe can do for me is give me two such days a year.
My best friends and I have been deeply engaged in our 360-world text message life – we chat and snap and skype constantly across six different time zones. Out of these lovely ladies, all are in relationships except moi. Two are married with kids, three in long-term relationships, and one has been playing the online dating game like a virtuoso now that she’s moved to a new area.
Me? Well the kid I tutor asked if I was pregnant, guessed I was 39 years old (in his defense, he’s nine and I was wearing an ill-fitting dress and am chubby and chronically tired) (AND there are things that are chin hairs after a certain age?! What the hell?). I can’t remember the last time anyone flirted with me and I was feeling down on myself and lonely and staring another holiday season in the face and so yeah. Fine. Yeah. I did it. I downloaded Tinder.
It was a moment of weakness, and I was being pressured from someone 6,000 miles away, and I gave in because also I wanted to. Wait – I’m not gonna feel guilty or ashamed of this. This is what the people are doing these days.
And it was fun. It took way too little time to set up a profile, which should have been my first clue, I guess. I think I entered like two facts and a few pictures. I finally figured out what “swipe left” meant. And then I was on for about three days. Because you know what? Guys on tinder are just as creepy as I thought they were.
Sure, it was fun to look at some eye candy for a bit with my girlfriends and squeal over his pic and profession and geographical proximity and mutual interests. But then again, pretty much every guy looks hot with a hat and sunglasses on and a well-thought out filter. You’re just teeth at that point. Generally, we would chat for a few moments, then he’d ask for a full body shot, followed with “haha and it doesn’t need clothes haha.” To which I would respond “oh you’re one of THOSE” and then he’d go “haha what do you mean?” and then I’d back up outta there.
So it’s V-Day Eve, and I’m currently listening to the 90’s Baby Maker playlist on Spotify and trying to sing every harmony in SWV’s “Weak” while my roommate stands in the kitchen door in her underwear eating chicken out of tupperware and laughing at me.
This playlist is not a joke. I am ovulating listening to it. This might also have to do with the fact that my period comes like clockwork and I held an adorable, flirty baby twice last week and made brief plans to take him as my own past customs. Our completely different color palettes probably would have made it impossible. But a girl can dream. The thighs and drool and big bright eyes on the kid were amazing. A roomful of women sat captivated. Also I’ve been following National Geographic on their instagram story and they’ve been bottle feeding these really adorable elephants.
Being a woman is crazy.
In other news, I’ve been able to work out again, after seven months of swinging angrily in the hammock (harder to do with dignity than one might think) and scrolling through twitter to watch the world burn. Getting in five miles a day is a glimpse of Heaven. It’s almost 100 degrees F every day when I leave the house, but I’m even enjoying the blisters. But like, how long is one supposed to keep up a regimen of relatively healthy habits before one is objectively good-looking? 10 days of sweating and counting calories and abstaining from alcohol which was really helping me keep it light and silly and see the humor in things while nothing was really very funny at all so I just want to know
WHERE IS MY AB.
I’ve also enrolled in an online certification program for TESOL to make me a more kickass teacher. Because like education is important? In other news – I will donate to your salary if you dress up like a bear and chase Devos. Anyway. Trying to let my politics take a rest for five minutes a day.
So my program is supposed to be 15 hours a week. And I already work 9 hours a day plus tutor an hour a day plus work out two hours a day but. It’s simply amazing how much cleaning and organizing and cooking for fun I am now interested in doing when I have videos and readings and discussion posts I should be attending to. Sigh. I had been so excited to start – the addition to my resume, the highlighting, the deep conversations about educational philosophy . . . and then I got hit with all the latest teaching jargon and theory and so many big words and I literally sit at my laptop in the recliner, feeling it burn the tops of my thighs, swatting at all the acronyms and fancy buzzwords and wishing I was mindlessly binging on Netflix again. But the children doth needeth meth and my skill – wait – they don’t need meth. They need mineself?! SOmethingeth. Anywayeth.
So I’ve been interviewing (pantless, but perfumed, because I have no sense) (its too dang hot here for clothes!) via Skype for a new job…I’m still too nervous about it until it’s official to say anything publicly, although apparently not too nervous to friend-request the woman who interviewed me. Maybe should have swept through my social media before doing so, including the status update where I mentioned I wasn’t actually wearing any pants during our interview, but . . . I’ve never been that great about keeping secrets.
Back to the topic – Can you believe it? This is my 11th blog post about Valentine’s Day. I was in a serious relationship for one of them. Geez. What if I *am* going to die alone?
Actually I have more faith in my sisters and best friends than that. Someone will take me and all my cardigans and all my dogs and costumes in and let me call a tiny nook in their house home in exchange for the occasional pot of tea.
But when I let myself, I miss feeling in love. I miss loving. I miss feeling loved back. I miss the nervous stomach cramps, the sweaty palms, the thrill of catching eye contact and then flickering away.
I miss the way my insides flip over when his hand hits the small of my back, I miss the hours spent making conversation and fun out of nothing, the text messages in the middle of the day for no reason. Holding hands while driving and mutual eye rolls at church service and ‘I’m proud of you.’ I miss someone to bounce decisions and ideas and goals off of, to share inside jokes with, to build dreams and make plans with.
But but but – but I know someone out there is going to be my valentine for every contrived holiday and every normal day. I’ve got too many ideas for future adventures and what to name our totally genius babies and weird ideas for how to raise our children and so many secret Pinterest boards saved and far too much pent up sexual tension for this all to go for naught. Also have you seen these birthing hips? Would be a shame to let them go untested.
Maybe this is just a sugar crash talking. I really miss conversation hearts. They are actually my favorite candy. I know they taste like chalk. But apparently I like to eat chalk.
Anyway, as I said earlier, i’ve written one of these Valentine’s Day posts every year for the last decade…they wax and wane between motivating to self-deprecating to Galentine’s focused to ridiculous pleas for attention from major league baseball players. But the thing is that I posted a repeat of one, from my first Valentine’s Day here in Brazil. If you don’t know, I basically moved here to run as far away as I could from the memories of a heart-breaking relationship that we both had thought would end in marriage. So that first Valentine’s Day especially was raw and rough and there.
And for no reason, an incredibly kind person, who truly is mostly, as she refers to herself, an “internet friend,” seeing as we only knew each other from a week spent on a mission trip to Mexico together, wrote me the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me. I’m copying it here, mostly so it’s easy for me to find later, as I anticipate it being something I can cling to in dark times.
But maybe it also inspires one or two of you to reach out and say something lovely to a single lady in your life tomorrow. It can be a difficult day. And we don’t want a Bible verse, or a pithy quote, or a reassurance about the partner waiting for us in our future.
Just to hear what I might look like from the outside, what is of value in me from another perspective, was treasure enough to carry me. Anyway. Keep reading to find these words, if you will. And if not – Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Galentine’s Day, Happy Day. O, Happy Day. You deserve one, and a hundred, and a thousand, and a thousand times more.
Is it weird that I, an internet friend, am responding to you about a blog post?
Is it weird that I call myself an internet friend? It seems simpler than: “we once spent some crazy time together in Mexico and then became Facebook friends and now I kind of revere and adore you and literally all the words you say so I have this mega huge friend crush on you and I guess I’m coming out about it now…”
About Valentine’s Day.
Disclaimer: I really really hate when the non-single ladies go out and sound all preachy and know-it-all-y about, well, anything, so I’m super sorry if I come off that way but I want to be really really real for a sec:
Valentine’s Day totally sucks for all of us. At least those of us who are real people who are poor because life.
Like, sure I have a husband. And guess what, we have NO MONEY. NONE OF THE MONIES. ZERO.
So every year, since our first year together, it has always been the impossible choice of do we do the smart, financially prudent thing we agreed on with our budget and essentially skip it, or do we blow out a bunch of money we have been saving for a house/new pair of jeans because I literally only own one that doesn’t have holes/car repairs/heat.
If we skip it, then we both feel sad and terrible and pathetic. If my husband doesn’t surprise me anyway, I am just a little bit let down and he feels like a schmuck. If we don’t skip it, we both are stressing in our heads about how much money we are spending on a stupid thing that would cost us like half as much if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day and don’t enjoy it. And if he does surprise me, I feel guilty because I literally never do anything for him and also how much did he spent on that chocolate no chocolate is worth 18 hours of work unless it is a lot more terrible of a day than this one.
Also, Valentine’s is super hard with unrealistic expectations and unless you have zillions of dollars, it is super difficult to actually pull off an impressive romantic gesture. So everyone feels let down there, too.
Also, I feel guilty and kind of like a schmuck because I have these awesome, empowered, amazing friends who are single and feel crappy at Valentine’s Day. And I am torn between wanting to, like, publicly praise my husband for making romantic effort (positive reinforcement and all that) but also feeling like I can’t rub it in other people’s faces.
Even though we all know having a relationship isn’t the happily ever after of a Disney movie. Valentine’s Day is basically the number one time to feel insecure about your relationship, partner, and question every issue you have had from the moment you started dating while you scroll through Facebook looking at everyone else’s happy relationships and wondering why you are such a failure to still be having epic, heart shattering fights over dirty dishes.
And while I am feeling all of those things, I even have the audacity to feel jealous of all my previously mentioned super awesome girlfriends who are doing Galentine’s Day, because that is awesome and didn’t become a thing until after I joined the ranks of miserable couples during Valentine’s Day and I missed my shot and it looks like the best to drink and watch movies and witch about all the things, relational and otherwise.
Because to be honest, Valentine’s Day just reminds me of all the goals and amazing things I wanted to do but didn’t. It makes me feel like a stereotypical vanilla wash out. Instead of traveling the world, changing the world, speaking deep thoughts and forming real connections with all sorts of interesting people, I am at home. With a screechy poop machine that I love with all of my heart, but still. I sit in my pajamas and complete arduous grad school assignments while meal planning or googling questions about babies’ poop colors, watching the world happen without me. Watching all of you have these incredible adventures and accomplish fantastic things.
And on the one hand, I am so genuinely thrilled for all of you amazing women friends of mine. I am your biggest fan, cheerleader, and social media follower. I am overjoyed by your joys and triumphs. But I am also just a little sad and lonely to be left behind.
All that to say, you aren’t alone in feeling lots of complicated feelings on Valentine’s Day.
So here is a list of reasons why you should feel AWESOME this Valentine’s Day:
1. You have SO MUCH LOVE all without a boy. I once saw you hug and console a dirty little girl who had just learned her mother was in serious medical danger. I saw you love on random little boys playing soccer and yelling bad words at you. I saw, and see every day, how this huge colorful love just explodes out of you, changing everyone around you. You brighten this world with joy, and people love you for it, for you. You not only are just full of love and joy in a way that makes us all marvel, you are clearly, deeply loved. Your life is full of love, every day.
2. You have REAL AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENTS. You have impacted countless young lives through your teaching and heart. You are bi/trilingual, a fantastic, published writer. You lead a rally in Rio, have visited places most of us only see in magazines, and have vanquished cockroaches. You saw and are basically bffs (I mean, they recognized you!!) with an Olympic team. You took a risk and traveled literally the entire way around the country, saw it fall apart, and turned around, wrote powerfully about it, and moved on to another amazing adventure. You PERSISTED. You are the type of person people write songs about…there really should be a ballad about you. The steps you have taken may not have always been picture perfect, but you overcame each one with incredible courage and honesty. Switch some pronouns in Kipling’s IF, and it could be written about you. Also, you’re eons more qualified than the current US Secretary of Education, so there’s that. Honestly, it is a good thing the point of a relationship isn’t to add to your worth, because there is literally nothing a boy could add. You’re amazing.
3. You have power and you use it for good. All of your experience, your wisdom, and joy, beauty and creativity, you could use selfishly, but you don’t. You advocate for those with less, you pour in to the forgotten and difficult to love. You are so, so full of muchness and you channel it into making this world better, from penguin videos to investing in students. I see Jesus in you and in the way you use your gifts and your love and your joy and you dump it all out for the people around you. Even your beauty, and I don’t mean that inner beauty nonsense, I mean you are super crazy pretty and you put on these amazing outfits and take pictures and make people smile just to see you and your killer smile. Just your smile brings people sunshine.
4. You know how to laugh. This is a real, rare gift. Most people take all of life and its crazy dumpster fire years, cockroaches, and other forms of shite and moan. A precious few can find some snark. But it is super rare to find someone who can take the worst days and experiences, find real humor in them, and laugh about it (especially at oneself). You and your posts inspire me because you can take these events where you “not so quietly lost my shite” or were yelling into the void, and turn them into something with joy. A memory you can share with laughter. You can literally take terrible experiences and turn them into the gift of laughter to those who know you. That is beautiful, and gives you courage and fortitude to face a lot of challenges and adventures with strength. You never give up, and you find the joy no matter what the circumstance, so kudos to being more like Jesus than most of us, in that way and you know, with the sacrificial love.
5. You have a full life and you are a beautiful person. And I get that even full lives come with loneliness and insecurities and bathroom cockroaches, but c’est la vie. You are an incredible person who somehow manages to take life’s messiness and turn it into something empowering and encouraging. Probably someday you will settle for some boy who isn’t worthy of you, and all I can hope is that kissing and stuff doesn’t distract you from the important work of being you. Because the world needs you and your voice and your live updates on racist couples you ran into at a hotel restaurant.
Cheers, friend! May your Valentine’s be full of complicated adventures you can blog about the next morning. If you’re ever in the states, particularly my end of them, my treat for a belated/early Galentine’s Girls Night. Because I am seriously bumming about missing out on that.