After wrapping things up, I head to his house. In my despair, I absent-mindedly toss some garbage into the dumpster behind his house while I await his return, along with those keys that have made another break for it. I really do need to weld those things to my wrist at this point. I hurl my upper body into the dumpster, making myself into a human see-saw, hips, teetering on the edge, reaching my keys triumphantly; and, not one to be easily deterred in the face of adversity, await with baited breath, a second swing at our date.
My tenacious love bubble is promptly burst upon discovery that rather than cooling from some time apart, the man upon whose lips and within whose arms I would like to respectively take out mortgages, arrives home inconsolable and believes my actions were deliberate, that I had sabotaged our date like some sinister cupid-hater. The very idea boggles my mind. I am new here, how could I know? What could I have done? I only learned to drive a month ago. Don’t you want my heart–it’s right here, under these filthy keys! I am what you might imagine a human version of a confused puppy to be and he is a despondent feline. A separate species, separate language, and now apparently an entirely separate valentine’s day. I return to Santa Monica with my tail between my legs.
Up until now, at age 27, this was the closest I had been to a legitimate valentine’s date, since high school when my friend made me a valentine on his computer, but didn’t have a printer so just made it his desktop background; or while single in my early 20s, when the guitarist for the band I toured with was in a long distance relationship; so we accordingly took advantage of the Valentine’s Day special at a buffet restaurant in the city.
Nearly as disappointing as the dashed plans with my heart stopper; with whom, I admit, I was always walking a razor’s edge between heart-stopping triumph and heart-stopping despair, was the thought that I might never “get” this tradition. I don’t really care that it might never happen for me. But I kind of care. I like getting dressed up and finding the right gifts and words and expression of love and this seems like the perfect combination of those hobbies. It would be nice to feel as though I am capable of pulling together a solid valentine by the time I hit 30. I’ve been in love a handful of times, but never shared in the experience of celebrating it on the day where it’s rubbed in the world’s fa– the day the world shares in the joy of one another’s love.
It’s a warm dusk evening in Highland Park, around 6pm. You’ll be proud to hear that my keys are safely in my pocket, or purse. Maybe in my jacket…somewhere not in a trunk. I am gingerly holding a mixing bowl filled with chocolate melting over a boiling pot of water. I drop strawberries in and spread them on a sheet of wax paper to cool in the fridge. My date, a low key guy that I feel at ease with, fixes up some homemade tacos with my favourite mango salsa from my favourite taqueria chain and we curl up on the couch with no fancy plans. I am 28 and he is 29. We both quietly pat ourselves on the back for having a fun valentine’s day for once before we turn 30. Victory.