I would like to preface this article by saying that if you have somehow managed to find yourself in a serious, committed relationship: congratulations. You did it. You have defied all odds and I hope it lasts forever.
But if you — like me — are some shade of single, then welcome. Welcome to my thoughts on love.
This year, I did not get any chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Or any flowers. Or any decorated pink card with a sappy, romantic message. This year, I got absolutely nothing for Valentine’s Day. But it’s totally okay. It’s not like I wanted anything anyway. In fact, I’m happy I didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day because it has confirmed my theory that Valentine’s Day is a total and complete waste of a holiday. And love is seriously overrated.
I used to believe in soulmates — you know, the hyper-idealistic and self-centered idea that there exists a single person in this crazy mess of a universe made especially for each of us. I used to daydream in class about getting married and having children and maybe even getting a pet dog or a goldfish. I used to be a sucker for Hallmark movies, bawling my eyes out at the scene where she miraculously comes to the sudden realization that she’s falling in love with her best friend. To be entirely honest, I would probably still cry watching that scene now. And the scene where he drives to the airport to dramatically profess his love for her before her flight takes off. And the scene where they open a bakery together. Oh, and maybe even the scene where he finally decides to introduce her to his parents. But that’s not the point. The point is that this year, I’ve decided to hate love. I’ve decided to be a rebel. This year, I wore black on Valentine’s Day: black jeans and a black hoodie and a black belt.
It was supposed to send some sort of deep, meaningful, rebellious message about the stupidity of Valentine’s Day. I was supposed to look badass — like the type of girl who doesn’t care about soulmates and hates little children and would never cry at a predictable Hallmark movie.
I was supposed to look intimidating — like the type of girl you’re too scared to talk to. I even tried to glare at the Starbucks employee while waiting for my morning coffee. He asked if I needed anything else. No. I did not need anything else. I snatched my coffee off the counter and walked out with my head held high, as if I had things to do and places to be. On my way out, I saw a swarm of teenage boys walking down the sidewalk towards me. Tall and handsome, with dark brown eyes and black hair and khaki pants — irresistible. My type exactly. One of them might’ve even been my soulmate. I hope you’re rolling your eyes right now because I most certainly am. There’s no such thing as soulmates. As the group of boys continued walking toward me, I tried to look away, praying that they did not approach me. Please do not smile in my direction. Do not wink at me. Do not even look at me. I’m wearing black on Valentine’s Day. It’s deliberate and it means that I do not want to be approached.
So while I was busy trying my absolute hardest to avoid any possible source of human interaction on Valentine’s Day, I came up with my newest theory on love. Here goes.
Love is like getting an ice cream sandwich. You run down the street on a lazy Saturday afternoon in the middle of July, flip-flops slapping against the concrete, beads of sweat dripping down your neck, hair sticking to your skin, sun painting your nose a gentle shade of pink. You wait in line at that blue and white ice cream truck for what feels like forever, behind the little boy on his bicycle and the old woman who owns three cats and the man who lives about a block away. You wait for that ice cream sandwich.
When the line finally clears, you almost can’t believe it. It’s your turn. You stand on your tip-toes and lean in, stretching your arm and thanking the man inside the truck. You smile — palms sweaty and sun beating down against your forehead and feet hot against your flip-flops — as you peel back the wrapping paper. There it is.
But somehow, it’s not all what you expected. You look down and very quickly, you realize that it’s practically all melted and wet and the vanilla ice cream is dripping into the wrapping paper and onto your palms and down your wrist. The layers of chocolate become soft against your thumbs and the ice cream drips onto the concrete and you desperately want a refund. But by now, the sticky vanilla is all over your fingers and there is no way you could possibly get it off. That’s love — seriously overrated.
Next time the ice cream truck rolls around, you ask for a popsicle. Why? Because you learned your lesson. Don’t get a sticky, melty, runny ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day. Get a popsicle. You’d think we would learn from love too. But we don’t. Of course we don’t.
In fact, I think we live for that sticky, melty, runny love. I couldn’t tell you why. I am certainly no expert. Maybe evolution. Maybe human anatomy. Maybe genetics. I don’t know. Science is confusing. But whatever the reason, we all fall for love. The illusion or the reality? Maybe a little bit of both.
This year on Valentine’s Day, I made sure that I would not fall for love. I spent the afternoon laying on my living room floor, scrolling through sappy, romantic Instagram posts. First there’s the oh-so-necessary picture of a couple hugging on their sofa. Then another couple taking a mirror selfie. They should really clean their mirror. A third couple kissing for the camera. I could’ve sworn that girl was single about a month ago. She could do better. “Roses from bae,” I read the caption below the next picture. Big deal. I could go out and buy myself roses too. But it’s not like I want roses anyway.
This year on Valentine’s Day, I’m proud to say that I chose popsicle. Because when you choose popsicle, you don’t get hurt. You don’t get melted vanilla ice cream running down your wrist and soft chocolate sticking to your fingers. You don’t get messy. Maybe someday, I’ll choose ice cream sandwich again. Maybe if he holds the door open for me and compliments my hair and dramatically professes his love for me in an airport and wants to open a bakery together. Maybe then, I’ll choose ice cream sandwich. But for now, I think I’ll stick to popsicle.
Rafaela Kottou | firstname.lastname@example.org