February 14, 2010

Blue Valentine

James | Blue Valentine

There's nothing like Valentine's Day to remind you just exactly how single and alone you really are.

Last year was probably my only really significant Valentine's Day as part of a meaningful romantic couple on record. In retrospect, it was probably a lot more special than I realized. My better half at the time and I agreed that Valentine's Day was a lame and artificial holiday neither of us care for so we decided not to anything special apart from spend our time together. She met me after work and presented to me my first and only real Valentine's Day gift (that I can recall, anyways).

She gave me James, my cherished plant. (It was the first and only name I could think of when she asked me to name it.) At the time, I was of course thankful and touched to receive any gift, but was admittedly underwhelmed. I felt it was more a reflection of what she wanted from and for me at the time instead of something I wanted for myself. Whatever reason, I think I was wrong.

She bought the plant earlier that day at Granville Island. We proceeded to bus back to my place. We sat in the back and made out as passengers stared at my plant which had been lavishly wrapped in bright wrapping paper. I do not really remember what we did afterward, but I am sure it was nice.

I have enjoyed taking care of James and waking up to it without directly thinking of or being reminded of the disastrous failures of that relationship and how messily it ended. James is a reminder of my ability to take care and foster growth in another individual despite horrible and unfortunate personal setbacks. When I thought I had accidentally killed it, I was very sad (for various reasons) and much relieved when it recovered.

The truly thoughtful, memorable, enjoyable gifts I have received in my life have been very rare. James represents a true gift: something I cherish now that I would have never even thought to have gotten for myself and have appreciated even more because of that fact. Most of all, I like my plant apart from her and unlike other things from her, I can enjoy it without any ills. I cannot recall the last time I immediately associated it with her, in fact.

So while this year's Valentine's Day should be a sobre one for myself, I am reminded that the day is not without its charm and small moments, despite its superficiality. It and she gave me at least one good thing I have kept without any ills. So thanks for James. (No thank you to the endless other bullshit though.)

FYI: In Japan, Valentine's Day is a little different. February 14 is a holiday for women, where men must buy gifts for the important women in their life, not just romantic partners, but co-workers, family members, friends, etc.

One mother later on March 14, they celebrate White Day, the reverse Valentine's Day where women do the same for men. Supposedly, women are suppose to buy men "white"-themed gifts, i.e., white chocolate or presents wrapped in white gift paper. In Japan, the two holidays are much more ritualized and formalized in an obligatory manner.

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