Valentine’s Day Thoughts

This morning I got up, went for a run & then decided to go into town to treat myself to a Stickybeaks breakfast (green tea & oats/berries); I should probably name this place my second home the amount of times I have mentioned it here, but I swear that they’re not sponsoring me, and I really do go to other places.

Anyways.

I always forget how much I love going into the centre of Cambridge early on a Saturday morning. Most people are in bed, save a few drowsy shoppers or those who love to enjoy reading the weekend paper with an espresso. There is a certain aura of calm that is rarely felt in the day-to-day workings of this small yet busy city, and after the hectic week I have had, I’m glad I made the effort to get up super early to witness my favourite time of day here.

Sitting in Stickybeaks, I had to do reading for both Visual Culture and History & Theory of Literary Criticism (big surprise). So I had my laptop set up, books open, and I was quickly trying to book a restaurant table for a friend & I this evening, when I came across a small problem – Valentine’s Day. Most restaurants were only offering ‘love’ themed set menus, including “aphrodisiacs,” desserts to share… you get the picture. Well in any case, I ended up re-arranging dinner with my friend for Monday, where we figured restaurants will be suffering from complete desertion after this weekend’s antics, and will be begging for custom. But it was just quite annoying, and as you can expect from me, it got me thinking.

Growing up in a single-parent household with a mother who has never remarried, Valentine’s Day was pretty much non-existent in the (for want of a better word) ‘courtship’ sense. I grew up not really understanding the day, so now as an adult I just haven’t been emotionally or psychologically invested in the celebration at all. Most people probably assume my thoughts towards Valentine’s Day as a single girl is ‘ugh – couples’. Instead, it’s more like my mind is blank: I truly don’t care about being single on this ONE day of the 365-day year, instead I just feel a bit of confusion towards the day. I think ‘fair enough, you want to show you love somebody – go for it’. However, personally there’s always been a missing piece to the Valentine’s puzzle, in that I wonder why media and consumerism continually push the erotic undertones to Valentine’s Day. I’ve known many people who have said that they received cards/gifts from family members when they were younger; yet as we get older, this becomes a cute memory of those immature ages when we didn’t really understand what it was ‘all about’.

But what is it all about? The media tells us ‘love’, but this love is consistently infused with sex. I kind of think that’s a bit wrong, and I guess I’m not the only one, hence why so many people now have versions such as ‘Galentine’s Day’, which I find positive… but even in this pun on the name, it indicates a shift in the meaning of the day. I guess what I’m doing is expressing the desire for a Valentine’s Day where friends can go to a restaurant on a Saturday evening and not feel like they are being coerced into something sensual. 

Reams of people are constantly sold these kinds of things (e.g. ‘romantic’ meals) at this time of year: there are certain cultural codes that people feel they have to adhere to in order to celebrate the day sufficiently, and in a world where each relationship is different from the next, I find it difficult to believe that people can experience the day without any trace of artifice; without any trace of feeling like you ‘should’ be doing something. Even doing ‘nothing’ on this day feels like you are taking some kind of opposing position, making a decision to reject the day and what it stands for. We just can’t win.

On the table I was working at today, there were some fresh flowers. I thought of how important flowers are to our ideas of celebration. I thought about how many flowers will be given tomorrow – my mind conjured reams and reams of (red) roses, and I also imagined the intense rush to buy these highly desirable, seasonal gifts. But looking back at the flowers on my table, I saw that one of them was beginning to die, it’s petals turning brown and folding over into themselves; and I thought about how strange a gift flowers were to give on a day celebrating love, something which we are conditioned to believe is ‘everlasting’. But then I corrected myself. Love isn’t everlasting. I’ve known this from a very young age (ahem, divorced parents), and it’s actually something I’ll never forget. So I guess giving flowers is quite apt on a day like Valentine’s Day, as everything is susceptible to dying. Perhaps this is why lots of people appreciate the ‘small things’ such as being given flowers throughout institutions such as marriage – flowers perhaps mean a rebirth of love, a reinvigoration as it were. They’re actually quite a ‘big thing’.

In any case, I found contemplating all this interesting. I haven’t actually got any plans tomorrow other than an essay & some reading, just like any other Sunday. But I am quite glad that I grew up without any investment in the day other than sheer confusion, as it means that I don’t have any expectations for the day – or for any future February 14th for that matter. But I do hope that everybody has a wonderful day tomorrow, whatever it is you are doing – Happy Valentines Day! 

- Sarah xoxo

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13.2.16 Morning to evening! Spent all day doing my student blog so very bored for a lot of it! Haven’t been on my phone in hours because I use the Forest App. It’s really good I really recommend it! Rewarding myself with seeing Deadpool with @bilbototallybuggins tonight! Xxx emily

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Volks Mariko, on MDD body par Silvee Van Lieshout-van Toor

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Awww :)

(Several more from this same class).