One

That’s the official title of the Three Dog Night song fitting for the single people on Valentine’s Day. While I’m not single and haven’t been for two decades, I understand deeply the pain of being alone.

From about age thirteen (i.e. seventh grade and my first crush) through twenty-one, Valentine’s Day was the sick reminder that I was alone. Invisible. Unwanted. In middle school we had Valograms that girls sent boys. Boys sent girls. Friends sent friends. My score was 0. I didn’t a single one from a friend, a boyfriend, or even an enemy. Same with the carnations that student council sold in high school. During that time, pairs of heart necklaces with “Best Friends” were popular. Each friend got half. I hung out in a group of nine girls. Nine isn’t an even number.

Every year I begged Mom to let me stay home on February 14. Yeah. That flew exactly never. So I dressed in black, came home and either read or took a nap and dreamed of a hero of my own creation then spent rest of the evening in my room crying or reading or sulking. One year I dumped all of the clothes out of my drawers and closet. To say I hated Valentine’s Day was a serious understatement. It was a day of complete pink and red misery.

The bitterness of my adolescence didn’t completely go away but rather morphed into a sort of jaded philosophy on the dreaded day. I rather celebrate with my husband on days special to us or for no reason at all. This year we are going out (tomorrow night), but it’s more because my in-laws are in town so we have a sitter for date night. I would be just as happy if it were February 22 as February 15.

My adolescent angst wasn’t wasted. Somewhere along the way I realized I didn’t need a single BFF but rather a tight cadre of friends. And those girls, the nine, – we’re all still friends. As for boys, I grew up. Flirted (a lot). Dated (some). And fell in love with the boy who God chose for me. And today, the highlight of my day wasn’t a box of chocolates or a dozen roses but parent-teacher conferences for two bright and beautiful God-loving children.

As for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I are saying “I Love You” in our own unique way. I’ve been out of town for two days. So he’s treating me by bringing home dinner from our favorite fresh Mex place. I’m treating him with shrimp saag I brought back from my trip. And the whole family is gets Munchkins. Because Dunkin Donuts is a big treat for this small town family.

How do you show love to the ones you love?

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About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

Posted on 2014/02/14, in Reading. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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