My friends and I are talking about Valentine’s Day.
We’re arguing about chocolate and cards and capitalism and corporate greed. We’re asking if one rose is enough and if 12 is overkill and what the second-most romantic flower is. The answer, of course, is tulips, because there are two of them.
We say: roses are cliché anyway.
We ask: what should we buy then?
We say: nothing, it’s a bullshit occasion.
We argue: we have to buy something.
We reason: it’s not true love then.
And now my friends and I are laughing and we’re buying roses and heart-shaped balloons. We’re buying bubble bath and scented candles and we’re stuffing teddy bears into backpacks just to cover all bases. We’re hoping we make it to home.
We’re throwing shade at Cupid, that nosey little shit, and complaining about his poor aim. We’re joking that we wish Cupid had hit Kayla instead of Jess, and we’re sitting on the kerb writing messages that start with ‘Dear Jess’ and end with ‘I love you’.
My friends and I are crossing out words, starting again and bastardising poems that begin with roses are red and end with a predictable twist. Violets are blue and so are our faces, we’re holding our breath as a dozen roses wrapped in ribbons make their way to a doorstep carried by expectation and desire and hope.
Jess is doing the same thing with her friends, including Kayla, who can’t believe Jess puts up with us sometimes. Kayla’s telling Jess and her friends that she’s celebrating Galentines this year, and she’s probably better off too, at least she’s not spending it with that guy that gave her roses and a teddy bear and chocolates and then took her heart and crushed it. My friends and I are joking that we wish Cupid hit that guy with a real arrow, but we’re not joking.
My friends and I aren’t spending the evening together. We’re busy arriving at restaurants on time and fashionably late to bars. We’re eating soufflé and bouillabaisse and other foods we can’t pronounce. We’re ordering the second-cheapest wine to match our tulips not our food, and we’re trying not to laugh as we read coq au vin on a menu lit by candlelight.
We’re staying home and watching Notting Hill, either by ourselves or with our partners or with our housemates or with our mums. It’s always Notting Hill. My friends and I know every line and we say whoopsy-daisie but we say it best when we say nothing at all.
We’re falling asleep on couches and in beds and with our heads on bars. We’re sleeping with the one we love, or the one we’ve just met, or by ourselves, or with last year’s teddy bear.
We’re lonely and unhappy, we’re happy and alone. We’re wrapped tight in someone’s arms and in the future and we can’t sleep because we’re not sure if they’re the same thing.
It’s just another day, really.