As different as we can be as humans, we can all relate in the emotion widely celebrated tomorrow. It's my favorite four-letter word, love.
"What's that got to do with it?" an anti-Valentine's Dayer might ask. I say it has everything and nothing at all.
Clear as dark chocolate.
Valentine's Day opponents might say Feb. 14 is just a corporate-created "holiday" - using air quotes - to make money and promote the commercialization of America. Well that's just too bad, Valentine's Day haters. As much as some hate the thought, Valentine's Day is here to stay.
As long as a gigantic meteor doesn't hit the Earth and take us all out.
Honestly, Valentine's Day is not worth fighting or hating. The energy it takes to do either is all lost anyway. Anyone who has ever seen a Hallmark commercial knows love conquers all, so hating is just a big waste of time. So what if I believe everything I see on TV?
I was raised in the '80s for goodness sakes.
Love is basic to me. We've all felt it. Whether it's at the exact moment we first meet our mothers to that cute childhood crush we develop in the second grade, love overcomes us. That is the only way I can explain couples who can stay married to each other for 50 or 75 years.
That and amazing skills at compromise and patience.
Some fight the idea of being in love. I have been known to do it. I fight it because it scares me a little. There's that idea of placing all my trust and devotion into one person who could ultimately take it all in his hands, crumple it up like an old newspaper, and throw it in the trash.
Or recycle it if he were into the environment.
I have openly admitted I would rather be happy alone than miserable in a relationship. That might make me sound like my "roommates" are actually inbred cats with chronic hairballs. Or that could indicate I'm a confident single woman with a good head on my shoulders, as they say in the Midwest.
I know, it's a toss-up.
I can only hope it's the latter. And that being single is hardly the end of the world. Or a sign I will die alone in a house of cats in 50 years.
It could happen.
Unfortunately that theory of being happy single versus miserable in love isn't a sound one. That's because not all relationships are all terrible or all happy all of the time. Even when two people are in love they aren't happy every minute of every day. Even if they've gone months without sex or have been fighting about money, they aren't miserable either.
They're just in modern-day love.
Being happy in love 24-7 would be ideal. That's something to aspire to but I also know it sounds more like something out of a fairy tale than reality. Unless we're talking about reality TV. Which is all a fairy tale. Confused?
So am I.
It's not until we experience loving another person do we even get what love really means. There's more to it than chocolate hearts, red roses and candlelight dinners. There's hard work, determination and acceptance of bodily functions that go along with being in love long-term. Although I would hope the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with is a true romantic, I really imagine him more as a team player. After all, love isn't all that fun when only one person is really in it. So I say let Valentine's Day be. Don't hate that lovers are getting all cozy on the couch by the fire watching a British romcom. Don't scoff at the sea of pink and red at the grocery store. Don't wallow in the self-pity of eating an entire carton of ice cream while watching re-runs of "Pretty Woman" in your robe. Valentine's Day will happen.
So embrace it.
Try Janelle Rhoton's famous local random acts of kindness and buy a person at the coffee shop a latte. Just don't make it a heavy cream if she's lactose intolerant. No sweetie to give a dozen roses? Buy 12 and go around town giving them to 12 people who look like they could use a brightened day. Instead of making mac and cheese at home on Valentine's Day night, invite single and coupled friends out for a mixer dinner party. There's no reason to feel hate when Valentine's greetings, whether commercially mass produced or not, are meant to show the love.
It's what we do with the message that makes the difference.
- April E. Clark has come a long way since Valentine's Day 2012. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.