Great loves too must be endured.
Every year on this day, I think of how my junior year English teacher pulled me aside at the end of January to inform me that, as extra credit, I could write an essay in the voice of John Donne about Valentine’s Day.
This conversation worried at the back of mind for the next two weeks. Why did she want me to do this? I didn’t need extra credit in English, did I? As far as I knew, I was carrying a nearly perfect score in that class. Had I failed to turn something in? Was my GPA plunging without my knowing it?
And why this assignment? I hated Valentine’s Day (and still do). A day engineered to make the uncoupled feel badly about themselves, a day where those who did have significant others in their lives built up expectations that may or may not be met. A day to buy to prove our love.
Mind, I went to an all-girl school. All day long, as florists delivered their overpriced bounty, the PA would buzz on and a voice would summon so-and-so to the office to claim their evidence of being loved. It made me ill. That year, and all years, I forbade whoever I was with to buy me anything on Valentine’s Day.
Just treat me well all through the year, that’s all I ask.
So I just let the day go by. I didn’t do the extra credit assignment. And I didn’t need to, I got an A in that class. The next year that teacher and I were talking- she was writing my college recommendations for me- and she mentioned how disappointed she was that I failed to present John Donne’s speech on Valentine’s Day.
“I hate Valentine’s Day,” I told her.
“How do you think John Donne would have felt about Valentine’s Day?” she laughed.
I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry.
Here was a teacher, looking to tap into my sarcastic nature, giving me permission to lampoon the silly romantic customs of my peers, and I totally let that opportunity slip by.
How did she know me so well?
Anyway, I still really don’t like Valentine’s Day, the showy aspect of the whole thing, the push for commercialized cards (that are strewn all over my living room floor until I get around to gathering it up and tossing it into the bin), the enormous quantity of candy my kids consumed yesterday afternoon (I’m guessing a gallon of red food dye was involved).
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, I love, and I do try to show it. I resent being told when and how.
So, celebrating in my own way. My favorite quotes on love….
I love her and she loves me,
and we hate each other
with a wild hatred born of love.
To love abundantly is to live abundantly,
and to love forever is to live forever.
The love we give away is the only love we keep.
A great many people fall in love with or feel attracted to
a person who offers the least possibility of a harmonious union.
-Rudolph Dreikurs (psychologist)
Perfect love means to love the one
through whom one becomes unhappy.
To love is to stop comparing.
Oh, I have loved him too much to feel no hate for him.
We think about sex obsessively except during the act,
when our minds tend to wander.
Love begets love.
This torment is my joy.
Love is not a sad man sitting under a tree, but a raging sword flashing with blood and fire.
“An Adventure of Don Juan”
The most important things are the hardest to say,
because words diminish them.
Love consists in this,
that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Enjoy your day!