The Truth About Valentine's Day

Ignore the shoddy nail job--what I'm clutching here is very important to me. 


Okay, okay but really, it's also a confectionary representation of Valentine's Day, which has unexpectedly become one of my favorite holidays.

No, it's not because I happen to be attached. Although AO always makes thoughtful plans, Valentine's Day didn't become special to me when I met my match. It became special to me when I realized that real love is about what you do every day of the year.

Sounds unbearably obvious, right? Except it wasn't for me. It's one of those things I never really understood until the past few years. In my early twenties, I had this grand delusion that relationships were supposed to be simplistic. Easy. Almost...passive. Love was there and all was well. You met the right person, they would read your mind and anticipate your needs, and sunshine and rainbows would fly out of your ass forever.

But love is not passive. It's not something that happens once a year, or in some grand gesture, or in a box of chocolates (although I'll never turn those down.) Love is an action. And that's something AO has taught me.

It's not that he doesn't make lovely Valentine's plans, but it's that he shows me he loves me in a hundred little ways. It's when he gets up early with the dog so I can sleep an extra hour. When he makes me egg sandwiches on Saturdays. When he gives me a back rub when I've had a long day. When he comes with me to a family outing or listens to one of my (longwinded) stories. 

These kinds of actions are not simple, nor are they passive. They cannot be reduced to a greeting card or a single day. You do them for the people you love--significant others, parents, children, sisters--and they do them for you, day in and day out. I'm not going to get all Corinthians on your ass, because I'm still young and I'm still learning a lot. But one thing I have learned from life so far is that love is brave because it threatens the ego. It puts aside the ego's wants and needs and tends to someone else's. It wakes up early. It sits with someone when they're sick. It witnesses pain and offers comfort. And it's every day. 

Love is in the actions. They're not always easy, or sweet, or candy-coated. A real partner is someone who you should be able to have a disagreement with.  Real love is not seamless. It often holds a mirror up to all the subconscious patterns and fears you've grown over your life. It also holds a mirror up to your morning breath. And your patience. And your ability to put someone's needs in front of your own. Showing up for someone every day because you love them is not easy. But it's so, so brave. And it's very often sweet. And it's so worth celebrating.