Today there are going to be a lot of Valentine’s Day writings all over the internet. Last year I wrote my favorite (to date) Valentine ever. But that was an unusually lovely time. I was living with my best friend, I was dating my (still) soon to be husband, and I was figuring it all out (still doing that too).
But, in general, this commercially (if you let it be) holiday has never been my favorite, or even one I looked forward to. As an adult I’ve spent very, very few Valentine’s Days with a significant other and in college, as I walked to class, the chalkings on the quad of “I love Melissa” or “CJ + DV = LOVE” would sometimes have my rolling my eyes, sometimes become invisible, and sometimes make me feel lonely. Did I sometimes search for my own name in the chalk graffiti? Yes. Did I know, realistically, that I didn’t know anyone who would write my name on the sidewalk? Yes. And did I, on any other week, think that these pronouncements of love were stupid? God, yes.
The truth is, I spent a lot of my 18-22 years feeling lonely. Feeling between relationships like some people are between jobs, feeling lost being so far away from where I grew up (Seattle Vs. Illinois), and feeling like I was incapable of finding the close relationships I had in high school. College was a lesson in lonely.
Grad school was different. I was in San Francisco and spent the majority of that time single and (to be honest) healing. I learned again and again how to love myself, all by myself. And then I met Kamel, through a bit of a fluke, and am now engaged. You’d think I’d be jumping for joy, feeling like I won the relationship lottery – Finally, Ladies! I’m off the market! Getting Married (with a capital M), my life is now complete! But no. If my chief identifier was as a “wife” or “married” or “engaged”, if that’s how people introduce me, or label me in their minds, that would be incredibly disappointing and frightening.
So today I’m writing about the ways I love myself while still being capable of loving Kamel.
I love the way I sing in the car. The perk of having a long commute means I can listen to a lot of music, very loud, and sing at the top of my lungs, complete with dance moves.
I like to travel spontaneously. I love to travel alone. When I can, I fly to Chicago to visit my friends, without Kamel, I run off to Salt Lake City for work, I have adventures and then I come home and tell stories.
I write. Every Saturday I write. Every morning I focus an hour on my blog. Every evening I focus on editing and more writing. Regardless of the plans that could be made, this comes first.
I read. I go to bed early, put away my phone and read. When Kamel asks, “aren’t you bored?” I say no, and keep reading.
I dress up. I wear good shoes and I pin up my hair and I throw on a flower, and I wear tights (tights!) and ruffles, and strappy bits. And I go to work, or go to a friend’s for dinner. Or take pictures in front of the mirror before changing to the next outfit. I dress up when I want to, regardless of the activity or time of day or what Kamel is wearing. He often says “You’re making me feel under-dressed.” (Not difficult) So, if he wants to keep up, that’s on him.
We do so many things as a team. There are so many aspects of my life that I need to, now, think of and view as a group decision and I love Kamel in a variety of ways. But I love me first.
Happy Valentine’s Day!