Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Manifesto

Well, maybe an informal one. Despite being happily married for over 3 years, I'm actually a hater of Valentine's Day. It's not a big deal to me or my husband.

"But, why?" you might ask. "Aren't you in a happy relationship? Don't you feel entitled to flowers, chocolate & the whole nine yards."

Not really. I'm not a gold-digging hussy; if you don't love someone, that 2 carat diamond & vacations to exotic locales won't make a damn bit of difference. Personally, I'd feel like I was being purchased.

My husband couldn't afford an engagement ring for me & my wedding ring was a gift from my mom since she couldn't wear it anymore. I didn't care. My husband's not in a career where you'll get rich & we have crazy loan debts; I saw no need to put myself in more debt for a lavish wedding that wouldn't do much for me & was more for everyone else.

Let me also tell you about my horrid history with Valentine's Day. I got dumped on or near Valentine's Day 3 times in 4 years. I even wore all black on Valentine's Day in those years.

Before this, I was the smart kid who was considered too ugly and undesirable for anyone to have a crush on. After the "handing out Valentine's cards to the whole class" days of elementary school, I had to deal with the carnation & candy sales of middle and high school.

NEVER got a carnation from ANYONE, save the time a friend gave me one of hers since she had a lot of them herself. No secret admirers until I learned about one years later. He never gave me a clue or even spoke to me at that time.

Middle school & dealing with the same dopes in high school was pretty hellish for me; I always figured Columbine would have happened 5 years earlier or that I'd be doing something like that myself if I didn't have goals + see a brighter future for myself beyond my small town & the jerks who tormented me.

So when I went to college & decent looking guys showed an interest in me, I was happy. One guy noticed me around Thanksgiving break and is the reason I passed Applied Calculus that spring. Things were going okay until he decided to get back together with his ex. I found out about that when I asked if he wanted to hang out on Valentine's Day. That was dump #1.

#2 happened when I was a sophomore. I was dating this guy who was in a fraternity at GA Tech. He seemed to like me enough when he called me from long distance over Winter Break. We went out a few times & he even got me emerald earrings as a birthday gift in January. Later on, he got into a car accident & broke his leg. Being a good girlfriend & not having a license or car, I went to his school to see him. Figuring he was busy trying to recover + get his car fixed & also being busy myself, I didn't see it coming at all.

He calls me up the night before Valentine's Day to break up with me, right before I was helping my sorority decorate for an event the next day. This was bad enough.

What really topped this one was that my little sister got engaged on Valentine's Day. I only have one sister & if you're a woman, you know how painful this is. If you're a guy, let me tell you that it sucks when society at large expects you to settle down & says you're a failure if you never get married. Giving a speech on getting dumped in my Public Speaking class made me feel a whole lot better. So did later watching this guy hit on a new sorority sister who turned out to be a lesbian.

The year between this & dumping #3 was pretty good. I wasn't dating anyone locally & the guy I wanted to date lived in NC. I drove back to NC amid cheap gas prices & it was the best Valentine's Day I'd had in my life. Before my husband, I always told guys I wasn't capable of loving anyone in a Romeo & Juliet way but I did care about them & if I say "I love you," it doesn't mean Romeo & Juliet love.

To be honest, I never actually loved anyone that way before my husband.

Oh, but #3. I was dating a guy 14 years older than me (nicknamed the "Dirty Old Man" by my sex buddy). He had 2 kids that he saw every other weekend. I didn't mind since I'd just hang out on my own then & usually went to my work study job to get more shifts.

Well, he decides to go out of town without telling me after I'd not seen him in a while. The weekends were usually the best times for me since I didn't have class or as much to do until my sorority meeting on Sunday evenings. I was mad b/c had I known before that, I could have signed up for more shifts at work. I got angry & said I hoped he got eaten by a gator.

That weekend, my sex buddy contacted me about going to this party that would be at my school that weekend. I'd planned to go there to get my mind off that situation and ended up hanging out w/him. After telling him about the situation, I figured I was about to get dumped & decided to do what one usually does w/a sex buddy; he didn't mind.

The boyfriend calls the next week (about February 10 or so) & I asked if he wanted to break up. He said yes. So then I had the one up on him by having slept w/the sex buddy & confessed to it. He got mad but I mentioned that he'd been planning to do it anyway, so it didn't matter. Honestly, having done it made me feel better about getting dumped.

Eventually I reconciled w/this guy after my brother in law died but it was very brief. He stopped talking to me, I knew I had no future with him & we were both moving away from that area.

I simply didn't date in college to look for the "one" since I wanted to live in NYC & most people I knew didn't want that. I wasn't about to commit to anyone since I felt it would hold me back from what I wanted & there was no way I'd give up on my dreams for anyone. Not to mention thinking I was incapable of loving anyone since I wouldn't do things I'd seen other people do in the name of "love."

The stigma of Valentine's Day convinced me that I'd better get married in black & on Friday the 13th if I had any chance for a happy relationship. I figured if I wore white & did the traditional stuff (especially getting married on Valentine's Day), I'd certainly be ditched at the altar. If a guy wouldn't let me do that, he'd never be for me.

But by some miracle, I met a guy who is as non-traditional as me. That would be my husband. He had no problem w/me wearing black or getting married on Friday the 13th; he encouraged it. He never tried to convert me into a Valentine's Day lover since he had his own sordid history w/that holiday: he was either alone or in bad relationships. He even had an ex who demanded a particular size diamond for an engagement ring & wanted him to move someplace he hated.

Well, 3 years later, what can I say? We're still in a happy marriage, still supporting each other's dreams, haven't stopped the other from being who they are and doing things you'd never think a married couple would do if you got all your information from TV shows. I don't have my husband "whipped" or act like his mom.

Both our parents are in marriages that are functionally dead but refuse to leave b/c things are too familiar. We both sort of vowed never to have our marriage be that way. I think growing up in that kind of house makes you more pessimistic about love & more certain it doesn't exist. Too many people get married for the wrong reasons or stay in unhappy marriages. I just don't see a reason for it. My own sanity and happiness are far more important than familiarity, finances or "the kids." Kids should be around more self-reliant people who know themselves & don't need anyone to complete them. They should be taught never to give up their identity or dreams for others & that if someone loves you, they HELP you be your best instead of trying to make you into what THEY want.

My husband doesn't "complete" me & I don't "complete" him. We compliment each other. He makes me a better person but I'm still a separate individual & so's he.

See why I hate this holiday? We'll probably just watch the "Cheaters" marathon on G4 & do icky husband/wife stuff. That's all I really need.

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