table for one

Most people like things they’re good at.

At some point, maybe Michael Jordan has thought to himself, “I am kind of an ace at basketball. I will really enjoy the next opportunity I have to play.” Or perhaps David Bowie-while running his weekend errands-has mused a time or two about how much he looks forward to his next free moments for Glam Rocking and covering heinously annoying holiday songs in a somewhat more bearable fashion.

In some ways, I fit this paradigm. I both enjoy and am decent at a few things: talking people into oblivion, handing out sass, and executing the perfect high-five pretty much exhaust that list.

But one thing remains a mystery to me. Why in the Ever-Revolving World do I look forward to-and thoroughly enjoy-Valentine’s Day?

As you will see from the images in this post, Amazing-Celebrity-Crush-Inspired-Valentine-Making has been ruling my free time lately. What started as a joke between me and one friend is growing into a February hobby. I am genuinely giddy to see the feedback on them, and the growing list of requests for more.

But Valentine’s enthusiasm is nothing new for the likes of me. Every year, I look forward to the cheesy chick-flick marathons, and the box of Whitman’s chocolate from at least one of my parental units.

But it doesn’t add up. To say I’m “good at Valentine’s Day” is like saying e.e. cummings is “good at observing basic syntax”. The particulars do not match. Something isn’t gelling right. Where does all my enthusiasm come from?

My first thought is to chalk my behavior up somewhere between Delusions of Grandeur and Denial on the Crazy Continuum. Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to feel a bit out of place as the 3rd, 7th, or 11th wheel. And it can be an exhausting business to be the “buddy” or the “jovial and mysteriously content” single person in the group.

However, Valentine’s Day still [albeit miraculously] carries a bizarre mystique for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy myself long-stem roses and loop Sleepless in Seattle for 3  straight days. But I actually enjoy the feeling in the air.

Maybe it’s because red is often a very flattering color, and chocolate is delicious. But I think there is something deeper going on. Could it be that I love the thought of being in love? That the idea of romance is almost as intriguing as the experience? That sounds very poetic. But I think it is something much simpler.

In my favorite modern romantic comedy, a couple goes through an amicable break-up. The guy and his soon-to-be-ex-girl are sitting at the table, trying to make the best of things. “What about you” he asks her, “Is there someone else?”

“No,” she answers, “But there is the dream of someone else.”

Once again, the girl-driven sector of cinema proves it can be good-for-something.

I think that’s the most appealing part of the whole experience for me when it comes to this time of year. Maybe it’s the lingering promise of the new year, along with heart-shaped everything: whatever gives me the inclination, I enjoy granting myself permission to dream.

Oscar Wilde once said, “The essence of romance is uncertainty”. Even though it is the most agonizing bit for many, the facing of the unknown is often the best part of almost any story in the scheme of things. There is suspense, there is drama, there is anticipation.

To illustrate the point, consider the Secret Admirer: a phantom who often emerges this time of year. What makes him/her so infuriating is the same thing that thrills the recipient of affections: the unknown, the feeling of something to come, something great be revealed. As Willy Wonka says, “The best kind of prize is a SUR-prize!”

I’m not saying I’ll be writing odes to life in iambic pentameter next week. I won’t be humming to myself, or twirling around in my living room with a look of glassy-eyed happiness. In most ways, it will be a week like any other.

But when predictability threatens to bum me out, maybe I can call on the idyllic feeling of a daydream.


2 thoughts on “table for one

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