I have to be honest, Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal in our little love nest. I’d go so far as to say we have an aversion to it. The husband and I both feel a bit nauseous at the idea of any enforced sentimentality. Call me an old cynic but there’s something decidedly unromantic about heading out to a restaurant on 14 February, to be crammed into your table alongside a factory line of other couples having A Romantic Evening Because It’s Valentine’s Day, and then be hustled out within 90 minutes so they can make way for a second sitting. Because – and I’m sure you understand – it’s Valentine’s Day.
I’d also feel a bit funny if I was proposed to on Valentine’s Day. Each to their own, of course, but I think I’d be unmoved by my intended choosing that out of a possible 364 more original dates. (Though I do get it if it happens to be the date you actually met or, I don’t know, the date he saved your life.) I honestly think my proposal story – where we had a blazing row that somehow ended up with us being engaged by the time it was over – has more romcom appeal than finding a ring in a champagne flute on 14 February.
To me, romance happens in random, unexpected moments. It’s that first takeaway, sitting on the floor of that barren flat you’ve just bought together. It’s discovering, quite by accident, that although you’re exhausted and ratty after a 36-hour long-haul trip to somewhere, you’re still delighted by each other’s company and conversation. It’s when you’re actually putting in some effort to be sexy together and instead end up collapsing into giggles when one of you trips over the cat on the way to the bed.
But I have to say, that in spite of my grumpy misgivings about the whole thing, even I have been moved today by the couples we talked to who have found love in the past year – their stories have well and truly filled my heart. To think that amid the dire circumstances of this pandemic, love has found a way. In some cases, these happy stories have only been made possible because of the pandemic. I find it reassuring that good things can apparently still happen under any conditions.
Yes, I realise I’m leaning into the cliché by bringing you these stories on Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’m just getting softer and cheesier in my old age – what can I say?
But I will leave you with one last thought on the matter. A friend recently told me that she’d read that author (and, in my opinion, legend) Jilly Cooper sends several Valentine’s Day cards to people she cares about every year, just to let them know she’s thinking about them. That is delightful and something I could definitely get on board with. So perhaps it’s not about the day itself but the ways in which we choose to honour it. Let’s Be More Jilly and reframe Valentine’s Day by spreading the love indiscriminately.
In that spirit, I’d like you all to be my Valentines and so wish you all the happiness and love for this and every day of the year. (And if anyone wants to send me Valentine’s roses, I will probably allow it.)
A few things I’m coveting this week
My ultimate lockdown indulgence – the freshest, prettiest scent. Philosophy shower gel, £19.50, lookfantastic.com