Tine after Tine
*As always, all names are changed, but if you're reading this about yourself and are feeling uncomfortable, please let me know and I will take it down. I respect, love and value every single person I mention in my blog.
Happy international champagne-hangover day! I hope each and every one of your Valentine's Days were bursting with whatever kind of love you chose to celebrate. I, for example, spent yesterday with my wonderful mother enjoying spa treatments and exorbitant Cabernet in the Lake District. So in a way I celebrated four kinds of love... familial love, self love, love of nature and the profound and timeless love of getting wine-drunk in my PJs.
Of course, you don't have to spend a lot of money to celebrate love. (My Vantine's Days aren't usually that extravagant). Maybe yesterday you took a nice long bath and told yourself how proud you are of you. Maybe you and your best friend grabbed a pint after work and talked about that same nothingness that means so little on the surface but so much in the heart. Maybe you picked up a jumbo pack of durex from the offy and had a long overdue cardio session with your significant other/s. Or maybe you lost somebody dear and you chose to spend yesterday with your memories of them. Well, either way, whether your evening was sprinkled with lingerie, candles, take-out boxes, box sets and vibrators, or whether for whatever reason you decided to say 'fuck you' to the whole shivoo and do what you would have done anyway, this blogger blew you all a little virtual kiss through cyber-space for good luck in love this year.
And now, to cheer up your February 15th vibe of finishing off the dregs of the milk tray while you google whether you can get the morning after pill on Deliveroo (you can thank me later) ... take a trip down memory lane with my ghost of valenentine's past.
Before me stands Valentino, a 6'4 Italian apparition with naturally defined contours and eyes that promise danger, mystery and sex appeal. The specter has bright blue hair that sparkles like bioluminescent algae and his chiseled frame is wrapped tightly in a scoop-neck black maxi dress.
"Come with me, babydoll," he whispers. "Let me show you your past..."
Valentino guides me to a small foggy window in the Lancashire countryside where the Northern wind blows wild heather against the stone. Through the glass we see the dark corridor of an old music basement, where a couple of tweens are huddled up behind the warm piping, sneaking a cheeky snog.
"This is my old school..."
"How old are you there?" Asks Valentino.
"Fourteen. That's Daniel, my first ever boyfriend. I remember this Valentine's Day, he sent me a dozen roses to each of my lessons. Where are the roses? I can't see them there..."
"That's because this isn't Valentines Day. This is January 10th. In fact this is one of the only times you two were together. You might remember it as a whirlwind romance of big feelings and hot heads, but all that relationship was really was a few texts on your Nokia brick, a couple of snogs like this one, and a little hand-holding in the lunch queue."
"Oh... that's not how I remember it..."
Valentino blows glitter on the scene and the image changes. Now, through the same window we see that girl with a bag full of squished roses and a guilty look on her face. She has her finger hovering over the 'send button'.
"Yes," sighs Valentino. "This is the Valentine's Day you dumped him over text after you snogged somebody else again and he still forgave you."
"Don't do it, Emi! Tell him to his face!"
The girl presses send. Valentino shakes his head... "what a bitch."
"It's not all bad, babydoll. Let me show you something nicer."
Valentino takes my hand and leads me through the carpeted hall of a terrace in Darwin. The air smells of overly-cumin-ed curry and the sound of some shit Indie music percolates up the stairs.
"Yeah... this was during my Father John Misty phase. We're in Nick's house, aren't we?"
"The high-school sweetheart," Valentino smiles.
"God, we thought we were so cool." I bend down to a small napkin covered in blue cursive ink. "This is the poem he wrote for me. He slipped it to me in A-Level English under the desk while the class pretended to have read Jane Eyre. Yeah, we were pretty fucking cute."
We follow the rose petals and the chamber-pop drivel to a steamed up bathroom half flooded with bubble bathwater. Me and Nick are crammed into a tiny ceramic tub with our ankles up in places it doesn't seem mechanically possible to be and making noises that are only marginally worse than the music we're listening to. I smile wistfully remembering typical motor function, before urging Valentino to give the kids their privacy.
This time we're on a train. We scooch past the loved-up commuters with their cow-eyes and 'I love you' balloons to take our seats. Amongst the crowd of fawning Gavin and Staceys, Valentino signals to a miserable looking woman slumped up on a table seat, tapping her green painted nails against the armrest. Across from her is a student, flicking diligently through his textbook and typing post-haste on his laptop.
"Yup. I remember this one. That's Harry," I say. "He hardly said a word to me that whole journey. Our relationship had been somewhat lacking in the romance department and I felt a little unnoticed...so I thought I'd pick something he'd like to do for Valentines and I booked us tickets to see a speaker In Ely... thought we could get some dinner and wine before hand and reconnect."
"Who was the speaker?"
"Well, Harry was a bit of a Tory. I figured a Valentine's listening to the former speaker of the Commons was what right-wingers get off on (and he was open to different political opinions)... But it didn't work. I left feeling unsexy, unseen and obviously bored as fuck. It's clear to me now that what I needed to do was talk to my boyfriend."
"What has this all been about, Valentino? I'm not a scrooge for love, I'm a massive softy, and I'd like to think I already learned the lesson not to dump people by text or spend the international day of romance listening to a tired old man talk politics..."
"Babydoll, I don't think there is a point, really. Can't we just reflect for reflection's sake? I think it's great that we learn lessons in life, but not every moment needs to be teachable. When you laugh, cry, kiss and scream there's something more to those moments than what they teach you. They are the full spectrum of fabulous human experience. Diverse. Hilarious. Beautiful. Wild."
Valentino finally pulls out a chair for me at a restaurant table, where the little me and my little mum from yesterday are sitting down and laughing over an expensive bottle of wine playing snog, marry or kill surrounded by couples and not feeling the slightest bit out of place. Because we are in love. In our own way... we all are.