Happy Valentine's Day! Can you believe we're already in mid-February? I could have happily skipped right over the first 6 weeks of this new year. Though apparently, the Groundhog saw his shadow so we're headed for an early spring.
Good thing, 'cause love is in the air. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest cheerleader for Valentine's Day - unlike St. Patrick's Day when the Irish music is piping all around me nonstop. With V Day, the trick seems to be not to take it too seriously and to know that the first person you have to remember to love today or
any day is yourself.
Still, if asked (you're asking, right?) I'd have to say my favorite V Day would have to be in 1991 when I decided to screw the whole "couples only" mind-set for V Day. Being date-less didn't mean I had to hide in my dorm room and listen to Indigo Girls on endless repeat. Really.
Instead, I took matters into my own hands (no, not like that). Since the college's theatre production that year was a musical, Camelot, and, for the first time being performed off campus at the Gloucester Stage Company, I decided to dress up and take myself to the musical for Valentine's Day, borrowing a friend's car and buying my own dang ticket. No, it wasn't pathetic and sad but sort of social - it was empowering. After I told a friend about my plans, he insisted on taking me to a florist and buying me a red rose wrist corsage. Flowers on V Day. Sigh.
Ya know what? I had a blast. I stood tall when asked who I was with and replied "myself" (I had to stand tall; I was wearing four-inch heels). I endured pitying glances and too hearty "oh that's great!" and "well, good for you!" responses. I didn't care. The play was great, the night was marvelous, and when I got back to the dorm room, another guy friend had left me a beautiful peach rose on my dresser. My 18-year-old heart swooned, I'm not ashamed to say. I grinned for days.
Sidebar: Camelot was randomly on TCM channel this afternoon. I have mad love for Richard Harris (The Lion in Winter remains an all time favorite movie of mine) and clearly a soft spot for Camelot itself. Not for the first time, I wound up spitting unkind epitaphs at Guinevere. I mean, come on woman! You're married to a great king. Keep your flippin' legs shut already. Lancelot will not live up to his name, I promise. And then after wrecking a kingdom and breaking your husband's heart, you go to a nunnery? Yeesh. Even Vanessa Redgrave can't fix that one.)
Back in 1991, I think what makes that particular Valentine's Day so special to me was that I made a choice. A choice not to allowed the strictures of society, the ones that say if you're not one of two, you can't enjoy Valentine's Day, to keep me from doing just that. Years later, I would take that philosophy with me to Ireland and Italy, having adventures in some of the most beautiful places in the world without waiting till I had someone to go with me. Or, to put it into Silverado parlance: "Life is what you make of it, friend. If it doesn't fit, you make alterations."
Romance is great. It's amazing. I am a romance writer after all and I think, done right, it can melt hearts and rejuvenate the way someone feels about herself. But ultimately, Valentine's Day is about love, not only romance. Check out a greeting card wall if you doubt it. Or better yet, the streets of New York.
Love that comes in all kinds of guises.
Speaking of guises, no one knows the many faces of love quite like Harlequin books. For decades they've been the front line of romance novels. Love 'em or scorn them (and you better not let me hear you do that!), everyone knows the name. And I love the fact that vintage Harlequin covers have become available as office products. Nothing like a piece of Gothic romance art to add zest to your notebook cover.
To celebrate Valentine's Day and all the myriad ways we love, I'm giving away three 2011 Harlequin vintage covers calendar. Hey look! A picture! (Taken with my phone, so images may not truly reflect the awesome sauce that is this calendar).
Want one? Leave a comment and tell me about your favorite or funniest or most poignant or even your worst Valentine's Day. Let me know the best ways you've shone/been shone love. I'll pick a random winner on Thursday.
I wish for all of you a day, a week, a year full of love in all its versions.