Valentine Love Disaster

Up until last year, I’ve always been wary of Valentine’s Day and with reason. Prior to having met my Monsieur, I’d only had one good Valentine’s Day surprise from a boy and I ruined it by giving him a card that said “I love you so much I could shit.”

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I thought I was being clever by quoting some horrible movie (possibly John Waters?). I was 20 years old after all, so everything I did was oh so saucy. But you see, because I had a big crush on the cool aloof dude at university, I was totally blind to the other less cool guy who liked me. Hence, Mr. Less-Cool made me a wonderfully beautiful card and I gave him, well, crap.

Sweet enough to eat

Sweet enough to eat

What happened next was pretty typical in the life of young naïve Brenda — I was actually thrilled that a boy liked me, even though he wasn’t my first pick. We went out on a few dates, did some awkward making out, and he never did anything nice for me after the card, while I went out of my way to show him how much I appreciated him. That was not the first or last time that I got myself into an emotionally stupid situation, but at least the contenders grew in charm and sophistication in the following years (and so did I).

For pretty much all of my 20s, there were 2 fundamentally incompatible sides of me coexisting in one confused body. There was hopeful, romantic Brenda, the Brenda that dreamed of being swept off her feet Cinderella style as if in some magical romance where the stars and moon shine out of Prince Charming’s eyes. And then there was the reckless Brenda, the one who wanted to experience life fully and followed the wrong impulses in the name of mad passion.

Of course, I could never wholly shut down the romantic part of myself during my exciting yet doomed attempts at dalliances. So a little bitter-sweet pain was par for the course. The only other choice would have been to cloister myself and pray for a knight in shining armour to come rescue me (I’m sure I’d still be waiting!). And so with every wildly unsuitable date came a little heartbreak, not totally devastating but slightly soul crushing nonetheless.

Buffy and Spike -- sometimes desire just makes no sense

Buffy and Spike — sometimes desire just makes no sense

Do I regret having pursued the Mr. Wrongs out there? Hell no! Unsuitable affairs are character forming and necessary in many ways. Here’s what I learned…

People are strange and interesting. He’s European, he’s sexist, he quotes Pablo Neruda? Great! You have no future together, but dinner has never been so exciting.

The beating of your heart! It’s called passion. Of course that cute DJ has a roving eye, but, oh, when it lands on you… yessss. Nothing else makes us feel more alive.

You’ve never felt so sexy. Let’s face it, it’s kind of an ego boost to be intensely pursued, not to mention showered with compliments. And if you’re the one doing the chasing, it feels awesome to catch your prey.

Life happens now. There is no “in the meantime,” this is it. Most of us don’t meet our soulmate in primary school; we’re on a mostly solo adventure for a good long while. But those experiences, even the disasters, are [positively] transformative. Plus, they make for great stories.

What you really really need. Grand affairs teach us about passion, joy, heartbreak. And they show us how someone can be wonderful in many ways while still being so very wrong for us. It’s a reconnaissance mission; that intel is priceless.

When I was single, I couldn’t help but notice how some coupled women I knew relished in my dating stories. They squealed when hearing about ridiculous situations, or outrageous things that were said and done. I wondered if this was evidence that being in a relationship meant you had to get your thrills vicariously through others. Or maybe even by, gasp, reading romance novels?!

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones  in The Mask of Zorro (1998).

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones in The Mask of Zorro (1998).

Little did I know then that life is pretty much never boring. You don’t stop being a passionate person just because you’ve settled into a stable romance. It’s been just over a year since Cupid caught me with his arrow — romantic dreamer Brenda just can’t believe her luck, and even reckless Brenda is on board with this one. I’m still getting used to this, but here’s what I’m discovering…

People ARE strange and interesting! It’s nice to be with someone who can match your own weirdness but who’s also so very different and fascinating.

Passion is alive as long as you are. Maybe it’s not that heart-thumping vomit-inducing excitement, but surprises are in store nonetheless. And it sure helps when you’ve picked the sexiest one…

You’ve never felt so wholly loved. Holy moly, when someone finds you beautiful even when you’re tired and grumpy — it’s better than winning the lottery.

You’ve earned your stripes and stars. All those years in the wilderness make two people appreciate each other even more than if they had met as young’uns. Getting here felt, at times, like a diabolically twisted obstacle course, but the prize was worth it.

No seconds thoughts. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. You’ve played on that emerald field and it wasn’t nearly as sparkly up close.

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re single, enjoy the ride. This is the stuff you’ll put in your novel one day. And if you’re in love, lucky you. Let’s appreciate the moment either way.

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