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love the day of love [narrative]

why you shouldn't hate valentine's day

Before I relate to you how Valentine’s Day isn’t about relationship status, I must admit that I spent Valentine’s Day gobbling gnocchi decorated in melted mozzarella while seated across from my fabulous boyfriend. A last-minute 9 p.m. reservation had landed us on Federal Hill; a flame and fake rose petals kept our tablecloth company while we gossiped together and occasionally sprinkled in cheesy comments on our feelings for each other. 

So with that in mind, you may think that it's hypocritical for me to say this, but here it is: Valentine’s Day is not about analyzing your relationship status—it's about celebrating your love for the people who love you. In my defense, I’ll tell you that no one has sent me more chocolates, more cookies, and more words of love on any Valentine’s Day than my mom. I will always be my mom’s Valentine first and foremost, and if I were to suggest otherwise, I wouldn’t be welcomed home. I would also like to further clarify that out of the 20 Valentine’s Days that I’ve spent breathing, only two of them were spent with a significant other. Ten percent isn’t nothing, but it’s far closer to zero than a hundred. 

Instead, I’ve spent nearly all of my February 14ths with my best friend. Emilie and I met in daycare and immediately ignited each other’s more diabolical characteristics: Emilie’s only-child greed for attention seeped into my own psyche. Unfortunately for my brother, Emilie schooled me as an attention grabber. I threw tantrums when my parents’ attention diverted anywhere else, especially toward my brother. But it wasn’t just Emilie who was the corruptor in this friendship—I wasn’t an angel of influence either. A mischievous streak plagued my toddler years. (The time-out corner will always hold a special place in my heart.) In daycare, I refused nap time and made Emilie stay up with me while all the other two- and three-year-olds slept soundly. We both grew up in Providence, a mile apart, until eight candles lit our birthday cakes and Emilie’s family packed their bags for a new city. Emilie left me the only princess of Providence, and enthroned Pawtucket with a new monarch. A whole half of a mile was added to the journey between our homes. Still, we spent every Valentine’s Day together in Providence (along with most other days). 

I remember a particular Valentine’s Day in our middle school years when we both fell sick. Not lovesick. Just a snotty, coughing, feverish type of sick. Emilie’s mom drove her the seven-minute drive to my house. She appeared at my front door and through the glass I could already see how terrible she looked. Her face was paler than usual, and the tip of her nose was dried up and red. I was no model either. I hadn’t combed my hair in days, and the smell of sickness emanated from my body. Despite the chills, the achiness in our bones, and a couple of drum-like pounding headaches, we were determined to have a good day. We set up fairy lights and made hot tea. Emilie brought a homemade candle and cherry honey Ricola cough drops (the red kind, of course). We ate the cough drops and sipped the tea, letting them cure the itches in our throats. We were exhausted and cold, but it was love all around. 

Now we live much farther apart. I’m in Providence (in a new castle), and Emilie is in her third city, Montreal. Our seven-minute journey has been extended into a seven-hour drive, and our Valentine’s Days are spent at a distance. 

On February 14, 2022, I got ready for my first Valentine’s date in two years in my dorm room. I changed into a black long-sleeved dress that I borrowed from my neighbor, and slipped on my overworn, ripped CVS tights. Suddenly, my phone rang next to the massive jar of heart shaped sugar cookies, sent (of course) from my mom. Emilie was calling. She, too, was getting ready for her date. We wished each other a happy Valentine’s Day, and said our I love yous. And then, in the midst of our individual rushing, we hung up. 

My Valentine’s Days have been about celebrating my best friends (and my mom) and the crazy amounts of love I have for them. Even though I am thrilled to have spent it eating Italian food with my boyfriend this year, I miss my February 14ths with Emilie. On our healthy and unhealthy Valentine’s Days, we have never failed to cherish each other's company. While I love and am loved on every day of the year, Valentine’s Day is specially reserved for those who have always been there for me, in sickness and in health.



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