Watching other people celebrate Valentine’s Day was fun. It was nice watching people who haven’t yet been deceived by love finding happiness in what people like me can’t partake in. I only realised here that Valentine’s day is a big deal, in India, it’s more understated. I saw people receiving flowers, balloons and other big declarations. It was an emotional time for some, and I was sitting on the other side of the screen dusting crumbs off my shirt with my feet up.
My friends and I discussed how it was a good thing that we were all single together. It’s only when you watch a lot of Korean dramas that you feel like it would be nice to have someone telling you sweet things every day. I for sure don’t see love as innocent and unadulterated in real life, nobody aspires to their parent’s relationship, no they want love stories they’ve read in books.
That’s because when you experience love in real life, it’s not in great lighting. It’s messy, it’s tough and it’s complicated. I have watched as a bystander when people walked in and out of relationships, sometimes back into the same relationships, and I never wanted that for myself. Whenever I thought I was in love I always realised later that the person was not for me. We always go for less than we deserve. I don’t know why that happens.
At least with me, it’s because of my own lack of self-esteem that I searched for love in people who would eventually turn out to try and make me feel small somehow. We keep expectations from love like they are attainable, we search for people who have the same inadequacies, or we think we can make up for his/her inadequacies. But we can’t, we aren’t there to fill up the rest of the glass that they can’t or vice versa.
I suppose when you take out the flowers and chocolates all your left with are two people who are aspiring for love, who hope they don’t mess up, who are hoping they can keep their promises and who hope the other doesn’t identify in them more flaws. Some of us with more vulnerabilities than others, with less courage than others wait for love. I am in that group. I think over time I lost courage, my depression took with it my ability to love. I am afraid of love I won’t lie. So when I see two people happy together I am in awe of them, not jealous. That they can go beyond their fears, that they can share their vulnerability.
It might take me a lifetime to love again, I tell my parents and friends, that I would like a key out of singlehood, I make jokes about it. But, I like this space, where I don’t have to compromise. Love may be a beautiful thing but I have my family and friends, who are genuine people I can let my guard down around, who give it to me straight. The truth is, Valentine’s is great for those of us who watch. But there’s a thorn on every rose.
Three years ago I’d have talked about this differently. It’s easy to write about love. As a writer it takes me very little to write about love, but I struggle with it in my own life. That’s why I see Valentine’s day as an enigma. Celebrating love, seems quite pretentious. Are gestures important? They can make one feel important, a moment of euphoria in a year of routine might be worth it. But I don’t know if I want that for myself.
I want love without the terms and conditions, but that’s the only way it comes. It’s the responsibility that scares me it’s the “sharing is caring” part about love that unsettles me. I am not good at that. I thought I was until I realised it took a toll on me, you can say it backfired. You think you know how to love until you actually do. You do the whole, putting someone else first thing and then you realise it’s not reciprocated. Sometimes it’s thrown in your face as not good enough and then you ask yourself why you ever tried in the first place.
So maybe sending flowers and balloons is great but they come at a price, a price I am not willing to pay. When I hear sweet things I tread with caution. Compliments are great until they turn into insults, and then empty words that make you feel nothing. So when Valentine’s day comes I think about this, then I compare it to the K-dramas, where beyond the struggle there is love, where there is a way out and the way out is love.
Love is materialistic, that is love’s nature and perhaps it’s better when it is. I suppose there are different points in people’s lives when their perspective changes. I know tomorrow I might feel differently about this, but for now, it’s like this. I am glad I am writing this four days after Valentine’s day because on the day it would have just been part of the noise and clutter. I waited for my opinion to change after the day, but it didn’t so now I can say this might be slightly objective at least.