Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hardly what I would call a holiday

It can't be an ordinary day because everywhere you turn there is a reminder that you are supposed to expect or provide romance, jewels, or at least a roll in the hay, especially if you usually don't roll. But it really is an ordinary day that should only be remarkable if one is truly inspired not because the calendar tells you marking your love is important today, like a "one day sale". Although given the date is in honour of two Catholic martyrs perhaps it is a form of sweet justice that so many rush around, feeling stress, and others have expectations unmet.

The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages when courtly love was popular. Courtly love. Elitist much? No wonder there is so much emphasis on spending money for this "holiday". I have been single, miserably partnered, and happily partnered on this day, depending on the year. In my relationships I have never stressed the importance of this day, preferring that the everyday, random display, the one that comes because my lover is simply moved to act is compelling, more romantic. Does this mean I am not charmed and immensely pleased on the chance that the someone happens to chose to display their affection on February 14th? No, it's a special treat, but only because I have conditioned to think so, not because it actually is a treat. The treat is in the act, not the date.

It is one the events on our calendar that stresses the primacy of couplehood versus being single. I have a number of friends who are single, usually relatively happily so but yet the fourteenth of February leaves many of them and other uncoupled folks grumpy, claiming to hate this day, or even dare I say expressing bitterness. Really I can't blame them, especially because I recognize myself in their utterances. Today I am in a good, strong relationship but that doesn't mean there isn't a part of me sitting in that room with those single people because society places an unfair burden of explaining of their state because the norm for this culture is to be partnered. It treasures romantic love above all other forms, except probably parental love.

This is a discussion that occurred on an email list I am on several months ago. It stemmed from the final episode of Will and Grace which showed their friendship crumbled and in the past while each were happily married.
Not surprisingly we did not come to any paradigm shifting conclusions but a lot of interesting things were said. Recently there was a thread on soul mates: do they exist, does the concept harm us, can we have more than one, more than one kind. I think they do exist, I know I have more than one, and more than one kind. My friend Greg is definitely a soul mate. Sometimes I have met someone and felt an instant connection, a sense of "knowing" them previously. They were a type of soul mate in that I was meant to meet up with this person. Forever? Probably not for most of them.

There is a bit of that sense with TGF in that our connection was so deep, so fast. We met via an email list, not a hook up site at all. After a few short months we met in person and though it's hard to convey my visceral response I will try. Her face did not surprise me. Yes we had sent a few photos (how else do you meet a stranger in an airport?) but it wasn't that. It was her facial expressions, the way she looked at me - I felt naked in a very emotional way that weekend. I felt like I knew her. Those few days took me though more emotions than I usually experience in a month. Does that make her my soul mate? It is not a label I have used to describe though after writing the above, I wonder why not.

My friends are extremely important to my well-being, just as is TGF. Maybe next year I will have party on valentine's day that is all about friends and love but not romantic pairings, celebrate the other relationships that are just as important to feeding our souls. Being one half a romantic pair is not the only reality out there but it often feels like that is the only thing admirable. Especially today.


Pattie said...

Well said. I have always viewed Valentine's day as the "Hallmark" holiday. It is much more meaningful to show those in your life how much you love them everyday, not just the 14th.

As far as soulmates are concerned, I think they come in many forms. They may be a romantic partner, but also friends, a family member, etc.I have felt those soul to soul connections many times, even if that person is in my life for a fleeting moment.

wen said...

i agree with a lot of what you said, although i take valentine's day as an opportunity to stop and really think about my relationship to my partner and to visibly demonstrate my love for her. it doesn't mean i don't do it other times, too, of course. i am guilty of the flowers and jewelry this year. oh well! they made her smile, which is a great gift in and of itself. :)

i typically celebrate it as a relationship day (and friends are relationships), with cards and notes to my close friends (and a yearly party to make said cards at my friend's house in sacramento).

this year, though, i was too sick in the preceeding weeks. no cards. whoops...

good post, though...made me think! :)

Jbeeky said...

An airport? I think there is a story here.......
Thanks for the nomination, by the way. It put a smile on my face.