So today is Valentine's Day, a holiday I feel genuinely ambivalent about. Actually mostly I find myself mildly confused--this whole 'Saint Valentine' thing sounds a little fishy to me. I even checked wikipedia. All that came up were some vague references to 'one or more' early Christian martyrs and a variety of Popes, one of whom deleted the holiday from the Roman Calendar of Saints in the 60s because he too found it fishy. I'm just saying, the justification behind the day is mediocre at best. However, I promise I'm not one of those people who treats V-Day as a) D-day, b) Singles Awareness Day or c) a day in which to gather all my girl friends, drink bad wine, eat chocolate and curse the existence of happy couples everywhere. Self-pity isn't really my style. I actually find people who talk a lot about how much they don't care about Valentine's Day to be the ones who care the most, and that strikes me as really, really sad. So when I encounter them, I have to nod, smile, issue my standard,"I know, it's hard", despite how uncomfortable I am* and make a quick exit. I don't hate the day, not in the slightest. I just find it bizarre and more than a little over-whelming. Besides its questionable roots, I also have a severe aversion to tacky fake flowers. But what I think it really comes down to is the fact that I'm not a romantic. Grand gestures of love make me cringe. Hallmark cards have more sap than even a Canadian could handle. Do you know how much roses cost? Way too much. Don't even get me started on diamonds. You know what paid for them? BLOOD. I shudder at the thought of forced proclamations of love over dinner for two at a place that has a steak special. I don't really like pink and red together. I find the power-play of a woman lording the potential failure of this day over a man horrifying--did we learn nothing from slavery? It's all so mind-bendingly nauseating. I know right now all my non-single friends are shaking their heads at me sadly, saying you don't know what you're missing.
Ok fine, I'm single and cynical. I'm Joe Jackson. I don't care. Being on a kiss cam at a sporting event is still my worst nightmare.**
I do know what I would miss though, and that's all the things that come with being single. I think I might be a special case because I do really enjoy the pleasure of my own company, and I'm not just saying that. I really am inordinately opposed to the dynamic of a normal relationship. Here's why: I am extremely simple. I like to be left alone, I get tired of being around other people. I don't like being treated like a child. I like to be an equal, and you'd be surprised how many men struggle with that. Conversely, I don't like men who are weaker than I am--not physically or mentally. I like a challenge. I have a peculiar dislike for extreme devotion--God gave us dogs for that. I am easily bored with people who really like me--that in itself is probably a case study. I have no issue saying no. I like people who have lives outside of mine, because I like to have my own life. I don't like feeling obligated to do things. I don't like being on someone else's schedule. I like quiet spaces in conversation. I shy away from taking responsibility for anything, especially other people. I don't dislike commitment, but I don't take it lightly. I also like things the way I like them, which can be problematic--I've been told relationships are all about compromise. I think very highly of myself, which means that there are few people who I find are worth that much of my time.
And really, my biggest issue is that I am difficult to get close to. For as much as I talk about myself, I very rarely share details of my life that I deem personal. Which is pretty much everything, but especially when it comes down to who I see, what I'm doing, and when. There are a variety of reasons for that; the first of which is the fact that I'm an intensely private person and few things make me as anxious and as uncomfortable as sharing about myself. Probably to an unhealthy extent. Actually I know it's unhealthy because sometimes I would rather lie about where I am or what I'm doing over telling the generally completely innocuous truth. I've become much better at managing it, primarily because I've been in a life-long interrogation session with my Dad, but still.
It's funny though, I have become a master of explaining what I see other people doing. I am a keen observer of the human condition. I can even talk about how I feel, but I dislike talking about me. Now that I've pointed it out you'll find that this is true--we can talk for hours and you will still know very little about me. Or, if I've done well, you will think you do, but really you'll know only surface things. It just takes a long time to get to know me. It takes a lot of effort. I keep most people at arm's length, but at least I do it with grace and aplomb. I can deftly maneuver conversations away from myself and listen to you talk about yourself forever, just as long as I don't have to talk about me. It's a measure of protection--to open up is to hand someone power of you, the ability to hurt. Trust is key, and I prefer to hand that particular gift out to a select few. You'll notice that I have friends that I've had forever, and made only a few newer close ones. Now you know why.
It's not to say that I don't get along with people, or I don't have good friends, or I don't meet a lot of great guys. Some, even, are a lot of fun. There just aren't that many that are great enough to keep around. There are even fewer who make me question my aversion to romance. Maybe that makes me bitter and cynical. Fine. I don't feel bitter or cynical, in fact I feel extraordinarily content. You can have Valentine's Day if I can have my carefully crafted and wonderfully peaceful existence.
But then, maybe in some ways I am a romantic. Just not the stereotypical kind. Eat the conversation heart colors I don't like, watch the Westminster Dog Show with me, and maybe you'll have yourself this cynic's heart. Better yet, make meatloaf. And serve Reese's Pieces for dessert. SOLD.
*I live in fear of over-sharers. They're the people who have the audacity to actually tell you how they feel when you ask how they are. Probably my sixth biggest fear. **My real worst nightmare is the possibility of flying snakes being real. You may have heard me mention this before. It's because it plagues me. The other night I had a dream I was 21 and swimming with some dolphins off the coast of California. Sometimes my sub-conscious gets it right!