So. It's February. You know, the month of Valentine's day. That Hallmark-Greeting-Card-UnHoliday-Bent-on-Commercialism-and-Buy-Some-Shitty-Wilted-Roses-and-Ferns-and-Baby's-Breath-From-Safeway-and-the-Normalization-of-Heteronormativity-and-Normative-Romantic-Relationships-in-General-and-We're-Far-Too-Cool-and-Critical-and-Sceptical-and-Tough-in-the-World-for-that-Shit day. You know. That one.
And - I was thinking about Valentine's Day as I was cutting out a gazillion hearts out of multicoloured construction paper with my babes to make lovey cards for a class of 23 and a daycare cohort of 15. Hearts upon hearts upon hearts. To glue upon hearts upon hearts upon hearts. What do I want to teach my babes about Valentine's Day? Surely I don't want to teach them normalization? Commercialization? Surely I don't want to impress upon them the importance of celebrating the heteronormativity that abounds everywhere in our culture, and on this day in particular? Surely, as one half of a failed marriage, I don't want to teach them about love everlasting? The short answer here is, of course, a resounding "Hells NO!" But the long answer, as is the case with most things, a bit more complex. You see, I have an enormous amount of trouble with the aforementioned HGCUHBoCaBSSWRaFaBBFSatNoHaNRRiGaWFTCaCaSaTitWftS attitude. (HA! How's that for an unwieldy acronym?!)
Anyways. In order to figure out what to tell my kids about the day, I had to think about what I think. Admittedly, this has shifted over the years as I've gotten older, and you know, divorced. Not because my ex is a bad person. For the record, I think she's a wonderful person. But rather because my life post-separation has been a sharp, stiff learning curve in figuring out who-I-am-in-the-world-ness, and who-I-want-to-be-ness.
And oddly, perhaps, I've gotten a bit mushier about this business of loving. There is precious little of it in the world. Far, far too little. Far too little vulnerability. Far too little going out on a limb, wearing your heart on your sleeve, valuing emotionality, valuing connection and the risks we have to take as human beings to make connections. And the corollary, naturally, is that we live in a world full of violence. Interpersonal violence. Violence within and against communities. Global violence. And it seems to me that in a world so chalk full of the latter, the former becomes so much more important and in need of valuing.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't like heteronormativity. (Duh). I don't like normalcy. I don't like the notion of commercializing love. And I fucking hate roses, ferns and baby's breath. And don't even get me started on carnations. Oh man - do NOT get me started on carnations. (I loathe them and the utter lack of creativity they represent, both). I don't believe in marriage (not in any normative sense, at any rate) and I don't think 'love' is meant to be some eternal, everlasting feeling. But I also don't think there's anything wrong with a day meant to celebrate love. In all of its forms and variations and possibilities and sometimes even its impossibilities.
If we have a problem with how the day rolls in mainstream society - then we can change it. We can do it our own way. It doesn't have to be a day of straightness and marriage proposals and wilted roses and trite crap. Make it a day to celebrate lusting and fucking and multiple lovers. Make it a day to celebrate the person you love monogamously. Single? Who gives a shite. Me too. Fabulously so, I might add. Make it a day to love yourself. Make it a day to plan a large-scale queer make-out session at City Hall. (I'd so get behind that action). Make it a day to celebrate self-loving a buy yourself a saucy new vibrator at The Travelling Tickle Trunk. Make it day to recommit to living lovingly. Make a day to go out on a limb, tell someone you love them, tell someone you value them, tell someone you're sorry, tell someone you think they're hot as fucking hell. Make it a day to take a risk. On someone else. On many someone else's. On yourself. Make it a day to be vulnerable. Make it a day to ignore completely and promise yourself you'll do better with those things all year round. Put your heart on your sleeve. And own it. Admit it. We don't need to buy stuff or be heteronormative or any of those other crappy things for this to be possible. Really. We just need to allow ourselves to swallow the cynicism for a minute. We don't have a shortage of cynicism in the world. We do have a shortage of valuing (I mean, really valuing - in a critical, but also an open and vulnerable way) love - in all of its good and hard and crappy and heart-squashing and beautiful and tragic and multitudinous, diverse forms.
Here's the thing. Though I believe this is already patently obvious, I'll state it anyways. I'm not cool. Never have been. Never will be. I'm critical enough. And plenty sceptical when I need to be. I'm a little tough, too. But I am and will always be a heart-on-the-sleever. A guileless, utter-failure-at-aloofness, total softy. And I'm ok with that.
Last week, when confessing my deep and pressing fears about not being intelligent and critical enough for academia, somebody gave me the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life. She called me a 'trifecta' of intelligence and intuition and open-heartedness. It blew my mind a little. I might not be as clever or as critical as other folks. This much is true. But I am a trifecta. And this is how I FEEL. So I'm gonna choose to value that shit.
You don't have to agree with me. I know I'm a bleeding heart. (It's part of my dubious, and possibly somewhat loser-ly, trifecta charm). That's cool. But if you do, maybe I'll run into you at the Tickle Trunk on V-day.
In peace and in love...