Valentine's Day is a week away and the store displays touting red hearts and I Love Yous put me in a weird romantic overload. It's as if we need this made-up Hallmark holiday to give us an excuse to proclaim that we're in love.
At this time last year, I had a Valentine: We met online, during a bought of loneliness over the holidays that prompted me to sign up for a free trial on EHarmony. He was someone I dreamt up, a mere figment of my imagination.
We were wrapped in our own little romantic bubble, with him showering me with the attention I so craved. At the time, it'd been a year since ending my last relationship and after all the reading and reflecting and writing, I was ready for love, and in my lovelorn eyes, I projected this perfect being unto a boy that was merely willing.
We had one of those first dates where in reflection you can't remember exactly what was said, what the conversation was, what details were exchanged because you're so enamored, so excited about the prospect of falling in love that you fail to listen. And all you can recall are those little moments that made your heart jump, because in the end you're not there to really get to know this man because you've already projected all of your dreams unto him and you're just there to fall in love. I remember my heart skipping the first time he mentioned the future, and how he couldn't wait for me to meet such and such, and take me to do this and that--and the first time he uttered, "We."
I remember how lucky I felt to have someone there, who was available, who held my hand and wanted to do nothing but spend time with me. And then after six blissful weeks, reality seeped into that cocoon of infatuation we spun together, or rather I spun all on my own, and the "we" that he so naturally uttered fell apart.
It would take me months to gain perspective on that relationship. It was far from love and closer to the excitement and jitters and goosebump-inducing infatuation one experiences when they're merely in love with love--and not so much the actual person you're supposedly in love with.
At that relationship's end, I vowed that I would be more cautious with whom I let into my world, into my heart...and I bundled myself back into that solitary cocoon of books and movies and writing...until I read something that urged me to go back "out there."
It was my first night back "out there" that I crossed paths with the man who would challenge my idea of what love and a real relationship could be. He was what I was waiting for. His name would turn out to be Aaron--and those walls that I built up, the ones I said I would make the next man take down brick by brick, slowly crashed down so naturally.
He didn't only help me understand what unconditional love was, but he willingly allowed me turn him into a character that I would continue to write about. And for this, above all, I will be eternally grateful.
Now, me and the dreamt-up man from Valentine's Day past are just neighbors, the kind that randomly bump into one another from time to time while walking on 14th Street, the kind that promise to catch up over coffee, but never do. I pass his apartment everyday on my morning crosstown commute, but the memory of our courtship rarely crosses my mind.
But this afternoon while sitting on the M14, I looked over at his building and saw him sitting on his fire escape. It was then that I realized that without those blissful six weeks I spent with him and the subsequent sudden breakup, I probably would have never met Aaron, and started this blog about love...the one that I rushed home to after spotting him to write about the time I met this guy online, who was once my Valentine.