There was that one time in college. The candles in the bathroom were lit; no doubt they were those very popular scented ones from Bath and Body Works with their overly sweet chemical vanilla scent. The tub was filled with four or five containers worth of generic vanilla ice cream from the Kroger down the street. There were at least three empty containers of whipped cream in the bathroom trash. I walked in on my boyfriend drizzling hot chocolate sauce all over the sundae that he was making in my tub. I waited nervously outside of the bathroom door for him to finish. The final steps in this master plan were some maraschino cherries and me. I finally put my literal toe into the tub, and shockingly... it was cold. Too cold. We started running hot water, which of course, you guessed it, melted the ice cream. Our plans of making me into a Valentine's Day sundae were melting as well. Best-laid plans, am I right?
I also have a vague memory of my junior year in high school, where my parents sent me a dozen roses and chocolates. It was sweet.
Other than those two experiences, when I start digging up Valentine's Day memories ... bupkis. Part of this is by my design. I was definitely one of those V-Day grinches saying things like "It's a Hallmark holiday." I went down the decidedly cynical road, mocking the red hearts, Cupid's arrows, and planned romance. I also went through my "Black-love" phase ... which was also a made-up holiday but was somehow slightly cooler and radical when practiced by my circle of friends. It was just like Valentine's Day... but Black, and we celebrated it on the 15th, which, by chance, is when all the Valentine's Day stuff was half off. Coincidence? Maybe.
Recently, I asked around about memorable V-Days. My friends have similar fuzzy memories of Valentine's Days past. Some were sex-capades gone wrong ... or right. Someone mentioned a booked hotel room and a power outage, and another said her best Valentine's celebrations were way in the past ... elementary school, to be specific. She reminisced about cutout hearts and those chalky candies with little messages.
In the past, I'd definitely been a TCFS -- too cool for school -- kind of person when it came to February 14, but this past year has made me less cool in many ways, and the least of which is my new relentless desire to love. Love is the coolest thing to do this year; it's right up there with sourdough starters and tie-dye sweatpants. If ever there was a time to tell folks how you feel, it's now.
Whether it's celebrating your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your boo, your gal, your pal, your parent, pet, or yourself -- go all out and go all the way off. Write the cards or be old-school and write the letter. Send the love. Make the dinner and have the dessert. Give extra treats, cuddles, and pets. Feel the love. And if it's just you and you are so inclined, shave your legs, put on your best sheets, and roll around with your damn self. You deserve it. We all do, in spades.
And a pro note before I go: You don't have to celebrate only on Valentine's Day. Celebrate love wherever, however, and as often as you can, because if we've learned one thing from this pandemic, it's that life is precious and love even more so.
In a year when a lot of the memories made were shocking, sad, angry, or confusing moments, let this February 14 be a time worth remembering. Let it be love. And years from now, when we all look back at this time, you'll have a Valentine's Day to remember.
Gloria Bigelow is a stand-up comic and writer for the TV show Bob Abishola. Follow her on Twitter at @gloriabigelow.