Valentine’s Day has evolved to mean many things to me but none of those things involve love.
I was broken up with, once, on Valentine’s Day, went on a first date, once, on Valentine’s Day, even stood outside in the L.A. winter cold for four hours just to hug Johnny Depp hello after the Rango movie premier. He walked right by me and In a desperate attempt to place my lips on his cheek, I ended up kissing the earlobe of his 320 pound bodyguard, who didn’t say thank you.
Ah, the romance.
There was one Valentine’s Day that I spent on the NYC subway, riding it up and down the city, watching guys in khakis clutch onto flowers and gift bags from Victoria Secret, wondering what the point of any and all of this was. Another where a guy surprised me with a second date to a steak house, even though he knew I was a lifelong vegetarian, just because he had a gift card that was expiring and in his own words to my own face, “Nobody else to take.”
There was one year where two guys walked up to my friend Elissa and I with red balloons and asked if they could sit with us for dinner and we said yes, of course, before we realized the two guys were McLovin and the late Anton Yelchin – and later, a group of their friends.
Best of all, perhaps, was the year I spent Valentine’s Day on a road trip with my closest friends – which may have been my best Valentine’s Day ever.
Except last Valentine’s Day, I saw a psychic, when I probably should have seen a psychologist, but there I was, at a single’s party with my friend Jess, waiting in a 30-minute line to talk to a complete stranger, who claimed she had magical powers, in hopes of finding out why my love life was so blahhhhhh.
When It was my turn to chat with the lady beside tarot cards and a crystal ball, she immediatly asked me whether I’d like her to talk to me about my career or my love life. I was only allowed to pick one. There was a line wrapped around the bar of single’s awaiting to hear their very own fate too.
Career! I screamed out loud, in my head.
“Love,” I said, out loud, to the psychic. “Please, tell me about my love life.”
“Current love?” she asked, as If I was eager to hear her to recap my latest and greatest awful date. “Or Future Love?”
I didn’t have a current love, at that time. I had spent the first 14 days of February, so far, launching myself on a challenge to go on 14 first dates that month. My love life resembled someone’s closest after they’ve tried on too many outfits and spent too little time trying to reorganize everything. It was a mess.
I have bad news for you,” the psychic said.
“No, oh no, no,” I started to panic. You never want to hear anyone say they have bad news for you, let alone a psychic.
No news, I imagined, was better than bad news. Ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to your heart, ignorance is all we have.
“It’s going to take a year for you to even be ready to find someone.”
“A year?” I panicked. “I am ready now!” I said, popping out of my chair as if a teacher just asked the class who wanted to go to recess.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “You need time.”
“TIME! I DON’T NEED TIME.” I was screaming, but I don’t really want to talk about that part.
I wondered if she knew about my track record for 2016 so far. If she knew I thought I found love but really I found the fleeting feeling of being enthralled by a charming human being. I wondered if she knew I was smack down in the middle of a dating experiment I made myself do because I wanted to put myself out there more.
“Until then, do things for yourself. Travel.”
My eyes splattered out tears.
“Oh, here is something interesting.” She went on, though I wish she had just stopped.
She tossed over a line of tarot cards. One had a dagger on it, another fire, and finally a crown.
“Go to Disney Land. That’s what you should do.”
I sat back in the chair. My face flushed. My heart punching.
“Disney Land? Are you kidding me?”
“I wish I had better news for you,” she said, handing me her business card and a nonchalant smile. “But I don’t!”
“Oh,” I said, disappointed. The dagger, the fire, the crown, were all stabbing my heart at once.
I got up. Shook her hand. Took her business card and flicked it into the trash can.
A year later, I am spending Valentine’s Day beside someone I met during that crazy 14 first dates in February experiment, not at Disney World.
Even so, Valentine’s Day, I have learned has so many meanings, but the best meaning, in my opinion, is that it is a day to reflect on all the ways we try so hard to find love – when really, the best love is already present in our lives. Whether it’s the friend you text first thing in the morning, the barrista who always upgrades your coffee to a venti, or the front desk guy at your job who smiles at you, even on Monday mornings. We spend so much time harping on the love we’re missing when really, truly, most of the time, we have all the love we need to be functioning human beings.
Or maybe the meaning Valentine’s Day is just a day to eat all the chocolate and candy hearts you can get your hands on. Yeah, I like that meaning the best.