“You're the kind of woman I need,” he said, his breath reeking of cheap wine and menthols.
It was the weekend before Valentine's Day weekend. He's my f*ck buddy. We keep it light, but every now and then, he falls prey to his own drunken admissions. I don't have the spine to hold him accountable for them, so we both pretend like they never happened.
This stagnant love life I've created for myself is a result of both things I'm doing wrong and bad luck from the universe. I'm always single. And if I'm not single, I'm usually caught in the throes of some almost-but-not-quite relationship (see above): the guy is insecure, because I'm not good enough, or because the world in which we all currently live is too "evolved" to use labels.
So every year, when Valentine's Day rolls around, I find myself more introspective than usual.
This February 14th will make it 26 consecutive years I've gone without having a valentine (elementary school lovers don't count, right?). Twenty-six years.
According to some, I make a big deal out of being alone on V-Day. Friends tell me not to get my panties in a bunch because "it's just like any other day." Well, if it's just like any other day, then why does it get its own name, its own section in Hallmark, its own designated set of special activities? Why am I always scrambling to get a table anywhere with my fellow single girlfriends because one reservation has piled on top of another way in advance?
I can't help but feel like I've been treated like some sort of degenerate unworthy of being loved. I mean, When the f*ck is "Singles' Day"? It's like the world has discriminated against me for one day, every year, for 26 years.
I can handle being single. Hell, I'm good at being single, the way I'm good at reading people or good at curling my hair. But it's the rubbing-it-in-my-face I can't take.
See, my self-pity is like this stupid scar on my neck that only hurts when I turn one way. The pain of being single only strikes when I see the icky stuff at the end of every rom-com, or when I'm walking down the street seeing couples hand-in-hand. Seeing them makes me feel like I'm living life wrong, like there's even such a thing as right and wrong.
And I'm not envious of the men my coupled peers are with; I'm envious of the love they share with their men. Because I'm not lonely. I'm just bored. I want a man in my life who sparks a fire in my heart.
We're all high when we're in love: high on kisses, high on the light in the other person's eyes, high on the way that person makes us feel about ourselves. Being in love is a gift. The feeling of being completely bewitched by someone else is a feeling like no other in the world.
Sure, I enjoy neck massages, being told I'm beautiful, and getting gifts wrapped in pretty bows. But at the end of the day, I'm an independent woman. I don't need a man. I don't need someone else to do things for me. I need someone to obsess over. I need a feeling.
Am I feeling sorry for myself? Damn right I am. I guess I never pictured my life panning out the way it is. When I was 17, I thought I'd be engaged and wildly in love at 25. I'm now a 25-year-old single woman living in a small, cluttered-but-cozy studio apartment, spending the week leading up to Valentine's Day thinking of getting a cat, and trying her hardest not to become a cliche.
And no matter how many other kinds of love I have in my life -- love from my family, love from my friends, love from my co-workers -- I can't help but find myself truly wanting, missing and needing that romantic love. There's a space I've created for it in my heart. It's missing, and I'm affected by it. It can't just be me -- don't we all want to love and be loved?
For just once on Valentine's Day, I'd like to indulge in a bouquet of flowers and box of chocolate, share a wonderful meal with an even more wonderful person, feel like the most exceptional girl in the whole wide world. Any show of affection. It seems inherently malicious that there is a day that exclusively celebrates people in love.
So what am I going to do about not being in love for the 26th year on this earth? Well, I don't know, to tell you the truth. As much as I love being surrounded by my single girlfriends in these murky, vulnerable waters, I also enjoy making a "thing" of my sadness, so I might just spend it sitting alone in my bed, watching "Pride and Prejudice" on repeat. And crying on repeat. Yup, I'll be that girl.
I should trust that when the time is right -- whatever that means -- I'll meet the guy and feel the high I want. And then I might even miss my single-girl Valentine's Days. Until then, I'll be spending all of my Valentine's Days by my lonesome and chasing the high. But I'll try to remember that the chase is half the fun.