“The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you thatYOU love, well that's just fabulous.” - Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
It’s that time of year again.
Last Valentine’s Day I was waiting tables at TOPO, the famous rooftop restaurant and brewery overlooking Chapel Hill on Franklin Street. As one of the more high-end eateries within walking distance to campus, I knew all the reservations would be lovesick Tar Heels.
Despite the certainty of good tips, I didn’t want to be surrounded by students who had overcome what I couldn’t: college hookup culture.
At family gatherings, I always circumvented the “So, are you seeing anybody?” question by blaming my spinster status on the toxic dynamic of college relationships. But, clearly, there were people who defied the odds.
It was possible to move beyond casual sex and find a relationship. Just not for me, it seemed.
Seeing happiness, I expected to feel salt in the wound. Seeing love, I expected to be reminded of what I didn’t have.
But that night, I walked in and something about it all just stayed at the door.
It was a massive relief to serve that night. To see love in action. To see people from different paths of life interacting all the same. To see smiles and laughter, and awkward first dates.
I remember smiling at my girlfriends who served alongside me. We didn’t need dates to enjoy the night. We had each other and that was special in its own way.
This year, I don’t have love on the brain. This year, I’m thinking of my friends.
My Valentine's Day outfit circa 2010. Sorry, Jojo Siwa. I wore absolutely ginormous bows first.
In a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope, bursting with kindness for the people she loves, invented a way to do something American culture hasn’t traditionally been too good at doing: celebrating the joys of female friendship. Leslie created Galentine’s Day as a holiday that would fall, each year, on Valentine’s Day-eve to do just that.
Reflecting on last year, I’m sad that I let commercials and store displays of teddy bears and chocolate distract me from what Valentine’s Day has always been about in my eyes: friendship –– from exchanging cards and candy in elementary school to drinking wine and eating charcuterie with friends in college.
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of all kinds of love. Whether you’ll be with your significant other, your girls, or yourself this holiday, take time to cherish those you love.
Today I am grateful to have love in my life, but it didn’t begin and end with a man. It began and ends with me ... but I have my gals to thank too.