I don’t know much about love. Most of what I know stems from what I dream up from books and movies, and what I see around me – couples that mindlessly wander down Waverly Place, simultaneously lost in lust and yet profoundly aware of each other’s presence.
I wasn’t planning on writing about Valentine’s Day at all. What does a single guy in the city have to say about love? But it seems that my eyes – (and perhaps my heart, too) – were both a bit more open than usual. The occasion inspired me to think about the boldest four-lettered word of the bunch.
What a tricky thing to grasp. You would think Valentine’s Day, an occasion about extravagant displays of affection, would shed some light to help us understand more clearly what love is all about. Or perhaps the holiday just complicates our understanding even more.
In the endless sea of kisses and locked arms I witnessed around me on that day, I saw just as many, (if not more), single people. To us, we parties of one that went about our day solo, a bouquet of flowers wasn’t a gift to give or receive but just a pretty sight. Champagne and chocolates were just sweet indulgences rather than a dessert that follows a candlelit dinner. And February 14th was just another brisk Wednesday in the Village.
As I’ve had a few days to reflect on this truth, I find myself in a state of foolish bewilderment. You’d think that in such a big city, in such a vast world, everyone would have an easier time finding love and we’d all live happily (hopefully) ever after.
I’d like to imagine we’re all single until we aren’t – until you meet the person who turns on the lights in the glass butterfly conservatory of your soul and opens its doors. That special someone who commands the stars to align above you for the perfect sky, who makes you feel as though a stroll is a dance and a bouquet is a forest.
So, I must ask, why so many single people? Where are all of our plus one’s hiding?
Perhaps real life isn’t as simple as the storybooks and love isn’t a pop song. Maybe we’re picky in our pursuits of companionship, or our skin is thicker than Cupid’s arrow is sharp. Whatever the reason, we’re always assured that “the one” is out there waiting for us somewhere. We’re told that whenever one door closes, another door opens, and whatever is meant to be will happen on its own – in love and in life. So we’re told.
Whichever way we decide to interpret this narrative, I wonder, however, whether the line between hopeless and passive romantic has become blurred. I’m starting to think I disagree with what we’ve been told.
As a single man, I’ve always been more conscious of the presence of couples around me. Yet, this Valentine’s Day, for some reason my attention was drawn to the other team in the game.
For we singles, love may very well be waiting for us somewhere in the world. I’d like to think everyone’s knights in shining armor are on their way. There’s something refreshing about being a hopeless romantic and believing in love wholeheartedly. But maybe we can be brave, active romantics too – agents of our own exploration for romance. What’s the point of waiting around for love when we can set out to find it instead?
I’m not suggesting we divert from the paths of our daily lives or aimlessly travel around the world to find romance à la Eat, Pray, Love. Perhaps we could simply be more aware of our surroundings, ourselves, and each other. As I passed by bars and looked around me on the street, what I saw around me on Valentine’s Day made me wonder – maybe if we took our eyes off our screens constantly and our lips off our wine glasses, we’d feel more inclined to look around and speak to one another.
I wish I could make a profound statement about love or share a revelation I experienced on Valentine’s Day. But for now, I’ll leave you with a question:
What’s an open door good for if we don’t walk through it? How do we even know a closed door is locked unless we try to turn its knob? Perhaps a closed door is just as powerful as an open one if we take the initiative to go up to it and give it a push or simply knock. Who knows who might be standing on the other side.
Whether single or taken, Valentine’s Day can inspire us to put ourselves out there, to be more present and open hearted, every day of the year. Maybe the holiday itself isn’t just about celebrating love, but also about getting up and setting out to find it. It has to be out there.
I guess I’m a hopeless romantic after all.