Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love and Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again: Valentine's Day! Or as I like to call it: Thursday!

Bad jokes aside, yes, it is February 14th, that special day on the calendar where couples celebrate their love for one another, while going to extravagant lengths for each other. It's a significant day for many, and can hold great impact on how a relationship goes. A few of my friend's today are going through all the motions, with my male friends scrambling to find a gift that attempts to strike a balance between "I love you and really enjoy spending time with you" and "Please don't take this as a signal that I want to marry you and shack up for the rest of my life"; the female companions in my life are also in their own set of circumstances for today, as some are wondering what their partner will be getting them, along with what they will be doing, themselves. 

Of course, we must remember that not everybody is in a relationship on this day, and that some of us are just grinding away, killing the clock, waiting for that next opportunity to pop up. While I'm not the type of person to complain about being single on a social network, or bitch-and-whine with a group of my friends, it occurred to me the other day that I have never been in a relationship during this annual tradition. I've been in relationships before, but I guess I never had one that lasted to the month of February (is that a self-inflicted burn?).

My favourite Valentine
Now that I get older, the ability to look back in time and reminisce on my own history has become available at my disposal. And, having a brother and sister who are 8 and 6, respectively, gives me ample reason to do so. The two of them are in their primary years of elementary school, and are currently in the "buy everyone in class a Valentine so no one feels left out" stage of their lives. I remember my mother buying 30 Toy Story mini-cards that I would sign to give out to all my classmates, personally penning their names on each and every one (always giving two to whoever I had a crush on at the time). Thankfully, both my brother and sister are substantially more good-looking at their young ages than I was, so the odds of them getting a special and individualized Valentine's Day card are higher then mine.

But apart from the card-giving and gift-sharing that happens today, sometimes the actual purpose of the day is forgotten by many: Love.

Oh love. If music be the food of love, play on (some Shakespeare for all you Olde English loving-motherfuckers). We have all felt it, and if not in a soul-crushing ball-breaking heart-shattering kind of way, then a misguided-but-innocent puppy dog love that defines the better-part of our childhood. Everybody had that kid that they sat near in their classes growing up; the moments where you would ask to borrow a pen, when all you really wanted was an extra chance to talk to them. Where you would ask them what their MSN email was, then waited a day or two to add them on Messenger. When you would stare at your cell phone for what felt like an eternity, wondering if it was a good idea to text them; where you would put a frightening amount of thought into each message. When you would ask them to "hang out" and have an afternoon to chill after school one day. Love is such a powerful emotion, that we as humans are ignorant as to how big a factor it is in our lives. The amount of couples that I have seen dictate their futures based on whatever it was that their partner was doing is outstanding. Kids my age, who are evolutionizing into adults, have made their University or College decision, depending on what their boyfriend or girlfriend is going to do. And while parents of those kids and surrounding friends and influences may think they're crazy, the parties involved just see it as another moment that cements how they feel about each other.

Now that I'm 19, and I have gone through a few of those experiences myself, I have begun to develop an appreciation for love and what it stands for. I'm well-versed in pop culture, and have listened to enough songs and watched enough movies and read enough books to know all the stereotypes of love and what it represents. I have heard all the sappy tunes on the radio, and know all the words to the classics that we treasure in our memories. Can you even begin to comprehend how much Prince is on my iPod?!

Ralph just doing whatever he can to get it in
Yet, despite all that common knowledge that was in my mind, and seeing all the characters in television and movies who acted like they were on death's door when they were dumped, I always believed that it was an exaggeration. If I ever saw someone tweet or post a Facebook status that contained a music lyric or quote that was supposed to represent how they felt, the cynic in me laughed and giggled at the act, unable to stop snickering at how ridiculous it seemed at the time. "How could someone allow themselves to invest that much into someone else, only to know that it could end soon and go right back into their face?" It seemed silly. It seemed immature. 

But once I began to start dating and interacting with woman in ways other than running away in fear of cooties, the development of feelings for someone else became a reality, and the emotions that I thought to have been drawn up from the media and storytelling turned out to be true. Love really is as powerful as it is made out to be. If you went to high school with me in grade 13, you may remember my little theory called "The Game", and how I used it in order to try and hook-up with girls. It actually produced some great results, most of which leaving me satisfied (giggity).

"The Game" lost its touch as time passed- wait, I take that back. Its touch was never lost, but more so, it was changing into what it is today: a guy trying to meet a nice girl. Before, I was just like every other guy my age, and wanted to hook-up with as many girls as possible. There were hot-streaks and cold-streaks, some slump busters, some upsets, and a few shocking moments that became glorified as time progressed. High school has that affect of making even the little things in life seem important (getting a fake ID, losing your virginity, etc.). Now, the lure of rallying up points and padding stats is gone, and most of those accomplishments and moments mentioned mere sentences ago have become meaningless.

And that's a good thing.

While that might seem depressing and horrifying for some that read this column (I know my reading demographic consists of under-20s who likely shared the same hallways I did for four or five years), all it means is a sign of maturity (even if I am more immature then most of my friends). Everybody reaches that breaking point in their lives where they had a love for someone so powerful, that it completely changes their view on the world and everything surrounding them, forcing them to change their ways and how they act as a person. I remember that moment for me. And, for days weeks months following, it was taxing to deal with. That's what love is: pleasure & pain. Extreme pleasure and pain. It actually takes energy to handle being in love with someone, along with putting in the work to hope that they feel the same way. And it's those moments of happiness, those times where everything feels perfect, that we strive for. It's a drug that cannot be manufactured in a field or in a lab; it's something that seems so beyond reality, that it could only be a fairytale.

There it is. A fairytale. It seems so real to you, that you're almost playing a part in a book or movie. Every move you make and step you take is just plot in the story of your life. And that feeling of love is what drives it. Finding myself writing poetry and short-stories eventually became real, and I now understood what everyone before me was feeling. It wasn't a secret anymore, as to what love actually meant. I knew, and I respected the process. No longer would I ever make fun of someone who put a quote from The Notebook as their status, or whoever tweeted a Taylor Swift country lyric. I found myself singing and quoting "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver more and more often, allowing the song to become a big part of my life. It may have seemed immature and unnecessary before, but now I was able to appreciate what the meaning behind it was.

No longer am I in love. Nowhere near as easy to perform, but it is possible to fall out of love, as it is to fall into it. Time progresses, and you change, just as your feelings, appearence, surroundings, weather, style, and emotions do. Now am I just a man. A hopelessly inquisitive man.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

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