I was walking through Target a few days ago, trying to be super responsible and not get distracted from my Only-Things-I-Absolutely-NEED list (how is it you can’t walk out of Target spending less than $100?), when I turned the corner and stopped dead in my tracks. I had stumbled upon it: the “holiday” section of Target. A giant pink and purple banner covered in red hearts hung over the aisles, staring me down. Valentine’s Day. And we were barely a few weeks into January. I stared at the sign for a second, mentally yelling at it for being so unavoidable, then turned the corner to run away from it.
Valentine’s Day? Already? I barely made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. I was just beginning to breathe again, inhaling a new year and exhaling everything from the last one. And the one before that. And the one before that.
To be honest, before the holiday season of 2014 started, I wasn’t entirely sure how I would make it through. I was okay (thank God, finally okay), but was I okay enough to make it through the season every recently-single person dreads? I didn’t really want to wait to find out, so I did what any self-respecting single girl would do: I filled my days with endless activities (that usually included wine) and packed my schedule so full I could barely have time to eat, let alone think for too long. If I ever sat long enough for memories of holidays past to creep up into my mind, I’d turn on some How I Met Your Mother and let my mind be filled with MacLaren’s Pub and the gang until I fell asleep.
Making it through Thanksgiving was a piece of cake. Even making it through Christmas was easier than I thought it would be. There’s something about being surrounded by family, crisp air, and a faraway place that is comforting and cleansing and just… distracting.
And then came New Years. The end of a season and the start of something new. It holds so much anticipation, so much excitement and fear and hope. I had never been much of a New Years person (I usually fell asleep before The Ball even dropped – old lady here), but I was determined not to sit at home and fall asleep, dreaming of the New Years past as poppers popped and champagne was cheers-ed in apartments around me. So, I put on some nice clothes and some bright lipstick (that usually makes me feel better) and hopped on over to a party, mentally promising myself I’d leave promptly at 12:30am.
The night when on and 11:30 turned to 12 and an entire apartment full of friends drunkenly cheers-ed and kissed and hugged and danced. There was a lot to celebrate. We had made it through another year, and no matter what it had held, no matter it’s losses or triumphs, it was gone now, becoming just a memory while opening doors to new losses and triumphs.
Midnight turned to 12:30 and as the fairytale clock tolled in my mind, unlike Cinderella at the royal ball, I decided to stay. This New Years was different. Although I didn’t have someone to kiss as the clock struck midnight, I was surrounded by people I loved and people who loved me too. The house was full – of people, of lilting laughter, of slurred stories, of warmth.
As I drove home (which wasn’t until 3am – yikes, missed my own curfew), I thought about something Taylor Swift once said in an interview (yep, here she is again!). She said “Life can be romantic without having a romance.” I’m a romantic, and everything in me loves the daydreaming and the hopefulness and the beauty and chaos in a romance. But what says only a romance can have those things? All of life can be chaotic and beautiful and hopeful. And that’s what I felt as 2014 fell away and turned into 2015. My life was romantic.
So this year, as Valentine’s Day approaches and people pass out pink and purple cards and candies covered in red hearts, I won’t dwell on the romances of Valentine’s past. I have a whole new sort of romance to experience. It’s something bigger than a holiday and even bigger than the unavoidable sign in the holiday section at Target. It’s falling in love with my life, my Creator, my friends, myself. It’s being open to life and all the experiences it may bring. It’s finding romance in unexpected places. Because what could be more romantic than that?