I had always hoped that I’d celebrate Valentine’s Day like a TV commercial. Full of roses, chocolates, hearts and kisses, and receiving an oversized stuffed bear that I’d lug home proudly, only to find I’d have no space to put it. Until recent years, I have yearned to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a part of a couple. As my musical love sings, “it is easier to give than receive love”. He also sings, “I wonder if you know the pain to want the one thing that you haven’t got?”. That Darren Hayes, he’s certainly relevant to Valentines nights spent alone on the couch, pitifully consuming soft cheese and cheap wine.
I’ve supported Hallmark quite a bit – sending off carefully written cards, and once a stuffed pink elephant to a boy who worked in the stockroom at the department store where I worked. During the next shift after Valentine’s Day, the stockroom boys called my by his last name, and then when I saw him next, he told me how brave I was for telling him I loved his smile, and I went and squealed in the toilet. I loved him for months and months. We flirted. He enjoyed Darren Hayes and Kylie Minogue, and hey, so did I! Perfect for each other. Or not. Things never turned out. God he was cute.
Once some flowers were delivered to me at my day job. They were boxed, pink and very big. Everyone around me crowded around and collectively awwwwed. So romantic! I was puzzled at which one of my unrequited loves the flowers may be from. The card read “Dear Kylie…”. And I picked up the flowers and placed them on my colleague’s desk. Kylie’s desk. Everyone awwwwed at me again. Sometimes people mispronounce my name as Kylie.
Years ago, when I was 16, I got talking to this boy on the Internet during work experience at the radio station. He was 18, lived in Melbourne, and had a car and a job. He and I would write snail mail letters to each other after I finished work experience because I didn’t have the internet at home then. His letters would come drowned in Lynx deodorant spray. I still recognise the smell of the spray. He was SO romantic, definitely out-romancing any of my expectations. He was like a Nicholas Sparks novel sprayed with Lynx. I am not sure if I fully appreciated it. He’d call me baby a lot. Like Madison Avenue, I hate being called baby. And after I went to the Savage Garden a concert and met Darren Hayes’ parents on Valentines’ Day in 1998, I arrived home to a massive parcel on my bed. It was a large hat box filled with a small heart shaped box (almost Nirvana-esque, had I appreciated Kurt back then) with some chocolates, and a teddy bear, also sprayed with that bloody Lynx. My parents wanted to know who it was from, and I was so embarrassed. I told them, and we moved from snail mail to phone calls, and then later that year we met. I had to be in Melbourne for a hospital appointment. He met me at the hotel, arrived with a bunch of flowers bigger than my head, and then we went for a romantic meal at a new restaurant called La Porchetta. That night, he pecked me on the lips, and I didn’t feel sparks fly. I was so embarrassed showing any affection. What if Mum saw? Months later, he drove up to my house, we sat on the couch watching Felicity, and he put his hand up under my tshirt. That should have been exciting. He was polite enough to ask me if he’d gone too far. The moment his hand caressed my breast was not like Dolly Doctor told me it’d be like. I knew I didn’t love him. I just didn’t feel anything. I was 17, unconditionally loved, yet I was cold. (And I’ve never thought hard about that time until now.)
Many years have past, and many heart shaped cards have been written, stamped and mailed. Even on days other than Valentine’s Day, I’ve held my breath and told people that I’ve fucking loved them. Sometimes I’ve told nobody and everybody my love for someone, just not that someone in question.
I’ve just wanted to be loved in return, as much as I’ve loved them. It hurts.
I love life more now. More than the idea of romance, more than some cellophane wrapped flowers that will probably make my eyes itchy, more than than the futility of a loving a man who only had potential to be a good person. Maybe it’s my because of my 30s, but things are shifting. I don’t want to be loved by just anyone now. And I’ve come to appreciate all the types of love in my life. I am loving doing things, going places, learning, talking, laughing, growing. And I’m heroifying my amazing friends, rather than the boys who have been no good
for to me. I can’t think of a time in the past year that I haven’t felt happy, loved or blessed.
My beautiful friend Camille recently received the gift of life. She will be able to breathe easy soon. She’s slowly improving, and while I know it will be a long road to recovery, I am elated for her. I’ve cried tears of worry, I’ve cried tears of joy. The best thing is that she’s alive (and tweeting!), and excited at the thought of all the possibilities in her future. She is so strong and courageous, a real life superhero. I am so grateful to her donor and their family for their precious gift. It’s Donate Life Week from 24 February – 3 March, and I urge you to consider registering to be an organ or tissue donor, as well has having the conversation about your wishes with your family.
This Valentine’s Day, I won’t be lamenting being single, wishing I was being swept off my feet. I’ll be appreciating the love I already have around me, and beaming because my friend is Camille has been given the best gift of love anyone could receive.
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Tomorrow I am speaking on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters at 9.00 am AEDST. I’ll be speaking about the psychology of skin with science journalist Natasha Mitchell, a dermatologist and another guest. I am so excited because Life Matters is my favourite podcast. You can find out your radio frequency here, or stream live online. I’ll post the link to the podcast when it’s up. I will be speaking live to air – wish me luck!!
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This post is part of Solitary Diner’s Valentine’s Week for Single People blog hop.