Contrary to what you may expect coming from a girl who has been single for 6 1/2 years, Valentine's Day is still one of my favorite holidays. To celebrate, I wore pink high heels and spent hours cutting out hundreds of polka-dotted and striped hearts, making 23 homemade valentine's from scratch, "remember the Father's love" for students and colleagues.
It's never really been a mushy-gushy day for me. Gaudy stuffed animals, cheap chocolates wrapped in red cellophane, and balloons shaped like lips make me gag a little. I actually don't even like store-bought Valentine's - probably because I've never purchased a Valentine's card in my life; I've handmade them for my classmates ever since grade school! When I was 16, a boy strategically placed a cheesy poem and rose in my locker. I could do without the flowery language and sparklie red pen that he wrote with. Flowers, on the other hand, will always make me melt.
My dad used to leave a pot of pink pansies on the breakfast table for Chrislyn and I before we left for school. I always knew I would wake up on February 14th and be loved on by my dad; he will always "be mine."
Something thrills me about silly little holidays and I secretly wish they excited those around me, too. Not enough people wore pink or red. There should have been more love and less PDA. I observed a touchy-touchy couple waiting for their expensive, brewed-to-perfection espresso drinks at Starbucks. I sipped my usual nonfat white mocha, trying not to be too disgusted. It was bad...
I had hoped Valentine's Day would be a great day to observe my Sabbath, yet I did a terrible job of keeping it sacred. I'm taking a much-needed break every Thursday to make up for Wednesday night small group and staff meeting, Sunday evening Cambodia Team meetings, and weekend duties. I did an okay job of avoiding the office, yet I still managed to do a few work-related things on top of four hours of laundry. To make up for it, I hunted down a tasty concoction of frozen yogurt topped with Reese's. After visiting 4 ice cream parlors, all of which had already closed for the night, I ended up in the ice cream aisle at Safeway.
Last week was a blur and I'm still piecing it together. Tough conversations and discipline that was not received well, late nights, not enough encouraging coffee dates, lots of awkward miscommunication. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm being tested. My job is hard. Life, rather, is hard. Hardcore life as I know it.
February 15th marked the one year anniversary of my departure for El Alto. I remember sitting in the airport, listening to some wealthy women talk about their vacation in Cabo, proudly showing off their pedicured, tan feet. I journaled about the tension I was already facing. My hair wouldn't see a blow dryer for 4 months, my face would be devoid of any makeup, smooth legs would soon resemble a forest, and my feet would be covered in a perma-film of dust.
Even though Valentine's Day has been overly commercialized, it's still about love. Since I left last February 15th, I've learned to love more deeply, love more fully, and love more obviously. I vow to do a better job of showing you that I love you.
Only 359 days until next V-Day, and a lifetime to practice the L-word.