As Valentine’s looms it annoys me a tiny bit because it overshadows what is more meaningful to me this week, my birthday! I was born two hours after Valentine’s so unfortunately my poor birthday has had to share the footlights of romance for going on well, many years shall we say, but this year I’m going to protect my birthday from all of that silly business and treat myself like a queen all the day long on the 14th. A grand idea really as depending on anyone to make or not make your day is in itself a dubious subordination of one’s soul and that, my friends, will not do.
I think all this romance hype is so awful. Cheap crassness everywhere, with an entirely wrong focus. I cherish a memory of a Valentine’s I spent with my boyfriend at the precious age of 23 when I was a theatre student studying directing at the Phoenix Theatre and he was doing his MA in theatre directing as well. We were poor as church mice, and lived in a one room flat with no bathroom, an old fridge, with barely enough heat to get you from the bed to the sink and back. So, we stayed mostly in bed of course, which was the only sensible thing to do.
I remember coming home that day and knew he was at the flat before me. I hadn’t a single expectation other than to kiss him. It was so simple. I didn’t need lingerie or a box of chocolate, I didn’t need a cheap ring, just him. I ran up the street towards the apartment, my pack flying up and down, as my breath puffed out in shots of exertion in the cold February afternoon. My face broke into a smile as I bounded up the stairs two at a time.
When I walked into the flat, a single candle was lit, a cold bottle of Moet Chandon (to us in those days that was sheer luxury) in a bucket, and 12 white roses in an old vase. I screamed and leapt into bed where we spent the rest of the day, watching the wan afternoon sun go down, then the crystal winter stars dot our window with happy light and then I think there was chocolate very late, shared after the last glass of champagne.
We had nothing. We had everything.
So, this Valentine’s stay simple, hug the ones you love, honour the heart that opens, for that is enough of a gift should anyone be brave enough to give it.