MY BEST VALENTINE'S DAY

  1. It's junior year in college. I'm 21.
  2. That fall, I'd had what remains the most devastating break-up of my life.
  3. I wanted nothing to do with life, let alone love.
  4. I refused to spend time with couples.
  5. I avoided Moulin Rouge, even though everyone said it would be my favorite movie.
  6. I sometimes even refused to get out of bed.
  7. I threw myself into theater, because I enjoyed being in dark rooms and pretending to be other people.
  8. Valentine's Day arrives. I brace myself.
  9. In college, it's all people sending each other roses, posting secret admirer notes in the papers, and going to dances. I'd had the roses, the admirer notes, the kisses, the dances. Not this year. And if I had my druthers, not ever again. Love was dead to me forever!
  10. So on the day I sit in Starbucks to read. Unfortunately, it's got windows on all sides and now I'm trapped watching a live performance of aggressive hand holding & bouquet-giving & romantic kissing. I stick my head further into the textbook and pull my hood up so I don't have to talk to anyone.
  11. In walks a surly upperclassman from the cast of my current play. We exchange cool greetings. He senses my energy. He leaves.
  12. Minutes later he reemerges and tosses a pack of my favorite cigarettes at the time - Camel Turkish Golds - beside my soy chai latte. "Happy Valentine's Day," he mutters, and walks out.
  13. I had rarely felt so seen.
  14. Best Valentine's Day ever.