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  • Writer's pictureAna Del Castillo

Valentine’s Day is Bullshit

Love’s Where It’s At

A couple of years ago I had the most epic and romantic Valentine’s Day I’d ever had in my life.

I was alone in Death Valley on a solo road trip and I was surrounded by natural beauty and wonder. I was intimately connected to my own thoughts and feelings, and I was listening to myself in a way that I hadn’t ever allowed before, so I felt loved — much the way one does when someone puts everything aside and gives us their undivided attention.

This particular (Valentine’s) day felt epic because Mother Nature had put on a show.

It rarely rains in Death Valley but while I was there it not only rained, it flooded. Rainbows emerged everywhere I looked! With water coating everything, the landscape glistened, shined, and preened.

It was breathtaking. It felt like the world around me was being baptized and blessed, and I was lucky enough to be there for it.

To me, this was love. Real love. Not the commercialized bullshit ‘love’ this day represents.

Listen, I love chocolate (dark chocolate), and I love to go out for a great meal with someone I care about, and I like flowers, and I love love.

And I am married to the love of my life and yet this day still makes me feel like there’s something a little wrong with me if I don’t feel the prescribed way it tells me to.

Real love is not showy couple goals that get posted on social media. I mean, it can be, but that is not sustainable or authentic.

It’s not fancy dates or perfect homes. It’s not total peace or joy.

It’s listening; really listening.

It’s attention.

It’s care.

It’s respect.

It’s fucking. It’s love-making. It’s holding and caressing.

It’s sexy, annoying, boring, infuriating, surprisingly sweet, frustrating, ambivalent, frightening, confusing, feel-like-I-won-the-lottery, what-was-I-thinking, can’t-live-without, come closer, stay away, you’re my best friend and favorite person, I don’t like you very much, day-to-day figuring out how to feel affection and consideration ongoing for another human being.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night to help when they’re sick.

It’s crying on shoulders; it’s venting; it’s having a cheerleader and tough critic.

It’s being gotten and getting the other person so deeply that when they’re gone their absence is palpable.

Above all else though, it’s messy.

And it certainly doesn’t look any specific way but it sure does feel a certain way.

Because love can be and is

Leaving your spouse even though on paper your marriage looks perfect.

Getting married even though your family doesn’t approve of your bae’s race or religion.

  • It’s telling the truth even though the truth will cause chaos.

  • It’s keeping your mouth shut.

  • It’s staying to work things out when there’s been an affair.

  • It’s leaving their ass!

  • It’s staying to work things out when the sex has died.

  • It’s having an affair and coming back to life.

  • It’s going back to school.

  • It’s quitting school.

  • It’s having children.

  • It’s not having children.

It’s stretch marks and cold pizza and bills and laughter and knowing looks and inside jokes and orgasms and sleeping in…

And it’s having the courage to leave everything you know behind to go on a solo road trip because you can’t hear your own thoughts or feel your own feelings anymore. And then finding yourself alone in Death Valley on Valentine’s Day looking at the majesty of this amazing landscape and knowing that there’s a place for you inside your own skin that finally feels like home …like peace.

That’s what love is to me. It’s messy. It’s life. It’s authentic.

And love is nothing if not authentic.

So yeah. Valentine’s Day is bullshit.

But love? That shit is the bomb.

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