I love Valentine’s Day.
I’m one of those.
But I adore being a little self-pitying if even for just a day.
I cherish the opportunity to complain about being lonely.
And I love pink shit.
I’m a bit romantic, too. Maybe a lot romantic. I’ve written at least one short story about everyone I’ve ever had a crush on, and I have whole anthologies on people I’ve never met. This might be a bit of an overshare, but it’s the day after Valentine’s Day, and I’m feeling a little greedy. I love to talk about love. Maybe that’s why I love Valentine’s Day.
I also think love is everyone’s favorite phobia. Especially here, at Cornell; and on every college campus, but this is the one I know best. And I know that shaky, sick stomach feeling we get when we talk to someone-we-think-we-could-maybe-love.
Maybe it’s the vulnerability, or the un-achievability of it all — because everyone loves to win and when you’re in love, well, there’s really no winning. I’ve been there, mid-conversation with someone you know better than you want to believe, and it’s like sea sickness. It sweeps over you. And it should be recklessly exciting but instead it’s painstakingly uncomfortable. And it usually makes me want to walk away: from the conversation, or from the moment, or from the person.
We do this because love goes against all of our instincts. It is unsafe and unwilling to cooperate, and we are all strong, ambitious students with goals. And goals don’t play nice with the rules of monogamous relationships, and we really aren’t sure we want kids, anyway — given the state of the world — and whoa, how did this get so out of hand? We haven’t even had a first date yet.
I don’t mean to say that I fall in love often because I really don’t. But I do feel like I meet someone-who-I-could-love all the time. Every day, almost. And it becomes this game of chutes and ladders, missed connections — all of us complaining about our collective loneliness. This is the part of love I don’t like to talk about because it feels a bit condescending. I don’t like to think about the parts of love we look away form. Be it self-sabotaging or a savior’s mentality, we do this to ourselves. Maybe not all of us, I know some of this were happily in love this Wednesday, but I think I, at least, was holding my tongue, taking my time texting back, trying to be uninterested. It’s not enough to appear uninterested; you really have to feel like you couldn’t care less.
Do you ever hear someone talk unabashedly about what they care about and it feels so pure, like you just came up for air after swimming through a clear lake? And you question how anyone could love like that, if you could love or be loved like that. It’s the way my parents talk about science, or the way my best friend talks about her religion, or the way I explain my newest writing project. I wonder, why does it feel so good and exciting to feel like that about something, but so scary to feel like that about someone?
Maybe it’s because science, or The Bible, or short stories have never stabbed us in the back, or lied to us, or cheated on us, or liked our best friend better all along. I think if the only thing standing between us and being excited about love is trust, well, we should sign ourselves back up. Here’s to being ready to be hurt, again. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Sarah Lieberman is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Blueberries for Sal appears alternate Thursdays this semester.