I hated St Valentine’s Day. Really, I loathed its arrival every February 14 because it meant that no female thought I was special, that I didn’t matter. It left me ashamed, sad and depressed. I felt alone, trying to pretend it was only an overcommercialised day. Deep down it hurt though and I couldn’t pretend otherwise.
My first St Valentine’s Day card arrived when I was 16. It was crammed with lots of verses, like “Roses are red, violets are blue, etc,” and I analysed it for ages trying to figure out who sent it. I have my suspicions but what the heck – a card is a card, and I was thrilled to get it.
The following year I kept a more eager eye out for the postman. I should have known better. He passed by without dropping a card in the letter box. I somehow got through the day with a mixture of anger and disappointment. What made it harder was my friends regaling me with the number of cards they got. I could have cared less.
After that I lived in dread of St Valentine’s Day. Really. My anxiety levels would reach alarming proportions by February 13 knowing what was to come. Each minute of February 14 I worked myself into a lather fretting about the postman. Would he, won’t he bring that damned card? The answer as always was NO.
This went on throughout the rest of my teenage years. My 20s brought no relief, a decade of failure that ripped me apart, increasing my sense of loneliness. I sank even deeper into myself. I saw myself as a failure with every passing year.
I arrived at the age of 30 at the very lowest depths. Thirty is a pretty significant age when you have time to reflect on your life. Some are married with children at that stage, or in a long-term relationship. I was 30 and never had a girlfriend. I was at a point where something had to give – and give it did.
You know that saying about waiting for a bus – you wait forever and then two came together – well my first two girlfriends were like that. Well, apart from the fact that there was a gap of a few months between them. Remarkably, our time together didn’t overlap with St Valentine’s Day. So I was still waiting for the card.
And then I met Trish. Suddenly I fell in love, something I thought would never happen. I proposed after five and a half weeks and we married the following March. So, just over a month before the wedding I planned my first proper St Valentine’s Day.
I was living a few miles from Trish, and as luck would have it I had to work that evening. So I bought a big card and posted it in plenty of time, or so I thought. On the day I cycled into Trish’s house having booked flowers in advance. So far so good. Unfortunately, it was early afternoon and the card hadn’t arrived. Needless to say she was less than impressed.
As time ticked by the atmosphere got a little frosty to say the least. As I pondered ways to kill the postman there was a knock on the door and there he was with the ‘missing’ card. Of course Trish was all smiles. The relief flooded through me and off I cycled to work knowing the wedding was still on.
Since then St Valentine’s Days have been less frustrating or fraught with tension. For the past 34 years I have always given Trish a card, sent flowers and usually, but not always, taken her for meals. The past few years, however, we have tended to avoid meals out because of limited menus, high prices, etc. but tonight we’re going out on an old fashioned date, complete with dinner.
I can’t wait. Oh, and I got her flowers too. I’m still an incurable romantic. Here’s hoping we have more St Valentine’s Days to come.