In 1969, the Feast of St. Valentine was removed from the General Roman Catholic calendar, because nothing was really known of this St. Valentine, other than his general burial location: along the ancient Roman road leading from the seat of the empire to the Adriatic Sea. And there were lots of these martyred guys named Valentine. Apparently, it was a popular name. Or sayeth Wikipedia, our treasured source for all cursory knowledge. But it’s at least a place to begin. I do know that Valentine’s Day was a celebration of romantic love since Chaucer’s day, and that the Victorians made little paper love trinkets to exchange of lace and pretty print cutouts long before we coated it all in chocolate.
Better to know that than think it an invention of Hallmark and the chocolate companies, our modern wallet-vultures swooping in proclaiming “Diamonds! Dinner! Obligation!” Because that’s what it’s become, hasn’t it? A bunch of outward proclamations, proof of affection through expense. Maybe that’s the way love always was: “Buy me bigger things. Prove it.”
I like love better than that (all the roses seem ostentatious, bred to last long, and smell not so sweet). I like to love in odder ways. I like to love everything at once. I’m better at that than pushing it all at one figure, expected to partake in a game of demands.
So I’ll offer you this, a Valentine, an Anti-Valentine, since this is not a celebration of romantic love, but something broader: I love you. Planet, people, I love you, you gods-damned broken mess. I love you fiercely. I love you painfully and openly. I love you like a river loves the rock of its bed, in a cutting way. I love you like the birds love the air, born to strain against it in order move through it. I love you like these things because they are unthinking things, but dependent things. People, planet, I love you, you’re messed up awful wonderful. Just like me.
Whole world, it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s a silly celebration. So let’s go celebrate. Let’s go do something small and ill-advised and lovely.