After Divorce Dear Valentine

Dear Valentine,

Yes, this is self-addressed, so no need for the stamp. Maybe you will allow for a momentary grace period so that your kinder, sweeter (though not Confectioner’s sugar sweet) voice can speak on this day given over to L-O-V-E. You are disdainful of anything trite: the hastily remembered, supermarket rose bouquet swathed in Baby’s Breath; the mass-manufactured diamond entwined heart necklace sold in the chain outlets (Because Nothing Says You Love Her Like…); the pressured expectations of performative sex in brand new, itchy, ill-fitting lingerie. You can go on and on about all that loving sweetness sold in Aisle 6.

Of course, you’re not expecting any of that crap since you have no Valentine. Divorce lowers expectations for the little velvet box on the pillow. Your parents might send chocolate (“We still love you!), and certainly you hint to your kids how much you love their homemade cards (hint, guilt, then leave the art supplies on their beds). But you hope to disappear on this sentimental, prove-your-love day and reappear on just-another-Monday.

But what about that lovely thoroughbred at the barn that you fed sugar cubes to after your riding lesson? He lapped up the sugar from your palm with his warm tongue, then crunched up the crystals. A small gift for his patience with your human mistakes during your lesson, and for his forbearance of your human weight on his back. Don’t you seduce your own children with double-layer chocolate cake? You could make them wheat grass smoothies with mushroom protein powder for dessert, but you want the oohs and aahs, the deep sighs of pleasure and the chocolate smeary kisses. There is love in all that.

No need for embarrassment or shame. Remember when you were a little girl and spent hours making Valentines for your friends and parents and secret crushes? Red construction paper, red foil, and white doilies. Intricate, layered designs. Each card had a specific intention and message. Not just a slapdash I Love You on the bottom of a factory made Hallmark card, but these sentiments: You Are Worth the Time, You are Worth the Effort, You Are One of a Kind, You Are Not Perfectly Aligned, But You Are Perfect To Me.

What are the words you need to hear today? You choose to listen to your more cynical self. Just today, you Googled the origins of Valentine’s Day because you remembered a thread of that story and wanted to prove the holiday was for sentimental suckers. You discovered the holiday originated in ancient Rome when women waited in line for men to beat them with goat skins in the belief that it would increase their fertility, and then willingly (or not?) prostrated themselves before these randy men for two days. Does Walgreen’s sell heart-shaped boxes of chocolates depicting this forced orgy?

If you search for negative interference, that’s what you find. Let your defenses down: no Roman centurion will whack you around with a goat skin. Remember the secret messages you wrote to your future self when you were that little girl with a box of Crayola crayons, a stack of construction paper, and Elmer’s Glue: I Love You. You Make My Heart Beat Like Crazy. I Will Never Love Anyone Like I Love You. You Are So Beautiful To Me. Will You Be Mine?

That doily heart. Paper thin, so fragile like a real heart, like that little girl’s heart, like your own But the heart is a muscle, not paper at all, and beats 100,000 times a day, breaking over and over, and reassembling itself again and again, in love, out of love, for love.


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