the sixth year

Well, here it is, my obligatory Valentine's Day post. This Valentine's Day marks my sixth year of being single. I broke up with my one and only boyfriend a little over six years ago, a few days shy of both Valentine's Day and what would have been our two-year anniversary. Since that time, I have been on a couple of dates, but I have not officially dated any one. The closest I got to "dating" was the almost-two-month-thing, whatever it was, that blew up in my face last fall. Depressing, right?

No, not really.

I'll be the first to admit, that came as a big surprise. Having wanted for a relationship for so long, and having been so pathetically disappointing in the romance department for the entirety of my adult life, I was sure that today would be akin to a slow and torturous death. I made plans to lock myself in my apartment, stay in my pajamas, sit on the couch, and drown myself with cheap alcohol while watching toilet humor comedies all day long. Instead, I found myself surrounded by love.

The day began with a late breakfast at a cafe on the East Side, where I sat alone and indulged in a custard pastry and the eleventh chapter of The Kite Runner, which I am currently reading. That was followed by a much-needed hair appointment, during which I let the stylist have at it while I caught up on my celebrity gossip via Star! magazine. Afterwards, I made dinner plans with my good friend Marisa, who traveled back home from San Francisco to New Jersey this week to be with her family. I spent the rest of the afternoon Yelp-ing, which is quickly becoming a new hobby of mine; I'm aspiring to be a member of the Elite Squad here in New York City, which will not only expose me to more of what this amazing city has to offer but will introduce me to a handful of witty and intelligent people who are seeking the same cultural enlightenment I am. Marisa and I had a casual and comfortable dinner in Chinatown, and we ended the night with exotic ice cream desserts from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

After Marisa and I parted ways, I walked a few blocks to the nearest subway station, finishing up my ice cream cone and people watching as I went. I thought of everything that had happened today: watching a late-night showing of Slumdog Millionaire with friends; receiving a Facebook message informing me that my friends back home were checking up on me via their Blackberries shortly after midnight, while they were all out at a bar; having little details about my hair preferences remembered by a stylist who had only met me once, over three months ago; tasting ice cream that reminded me of the flavors of home; all of which led me to the understanding that despite the fact that I am alone, I am so incredibly cared for. Around me, couples were bickering over restaurant choices, significant others being late, or how a waiter's mistake over dinner ruined an entire evening. I smiled at how wonderfully simplistic my day was, in my solitude. And I thought about how I didn't want this contrived holiday to be about showering someone with material representations of affection. Rather, I like to believe it's more about understanding what love is and finding your own personal joy in experiencing it, no matter how that may be.

Maybe I'm making all this up because it's been so long since I've felt a romantic connection with someone and I have to find some way to comfort the pain of my loneliness. Because I'll admit it, if I had the choice, I would have loved to spend this day with someone who loves me. Regardless, I can honestly say that when I look back on this plain and simple Valentine's Day, I'll see myself standing on a street corner, ice cream cone in hand, enveloped by a cold winter wind, and smiling at the thought of all the things that made this day a happy one.

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