The most frost-rating date EVER
“So,” he asked, a cup of hot chocolate in his hand and a smirk on his lips, “Can I take you out again?”
I scoffed, rolled my eyes, and said “No.”
The night began when he asked me to meet him at the Bramalea City Centre parking lot. That should have been the first red flag.
He wore blue jeans and a thick, cozy jacket. “I wanted to try this new wing place nearby,” he said as I sat in his car. He drove us to WOW! Wing House, a wing joint about five minutes from the mall. At this point in the pandemic, we could not dine in. So, I expected us to sit in his car and eat, chatting away and listening to 92.5 FM on the radio.
“The food will take 45 minutes, please return for pickup then,” uttered the cashier. “And your total will be $38.95.” I looked over at him as he felt around his pockets. He opened his wallet and paid for our food. Then, we left the restaurant and headed toward his car. “I wasn’t expecting there to be a wait, but I did see a park on the way here with string lights,” he said.
I assumed we were going to drive by the park. Perhaps, we would sit in the car and chat some more. But that didn’t happen. He parked the car and opened his door. We got out and walked through a trail for what felt like 30 minutes until we reached the skating rink with the string lights. For some context, it was January—cold, windy, and snowy. Remember how he wore jeans and a winter jacket? Well, I wore ripped jeans and a lightly lined sweatshirt.
By the time we reached the skating rink, my ears felt numb, and my toes were frozen. I could no longer walk without feeling wobbly. “It’s a little cold, maybe we should head back?” I asked. He turned and faced me, “I’ll go get us some hot chocolate! That should warm you up.”
I continued to stand in the cold and barely surviving the rest of our date. But that wasn’t the end of it: I had a raging cold for weeks after to remind me of that terrible night.
An un-bear-ably cute Valentine’s Day
“The student council came around with roses and candy today,” I sighed, fiddling with the dial of the radio. Valentine’s Day had fallen on a random Tuesday that year, but that certainly didn’t stop the world from turning red, white, and pink.
“Did you get any?” my dad asked and shooed my hand away, turning the music off instead.
“Only from my friends,” I frowned, thinking of the paper bag of roses and lollipops sitting in my backpack, “I feel lonely.”
“That’s stupid,” he said, shaking his head, “You’re not.”
“Gee, I feel much better now,” I responded, rolling my eyes, crossing my arms over my chest, and staring out the car window.
We were only a few minutes away from home when he turned the car around and stopped at the nearest Shoppers Drug Mart, leaving me in the car to go inside. When he walked out a few minutes later, he was holding a big, white bear under his arm.
“Dad…” I stared at the bear when he sat back down in the car and asked, “Who is that for?”
“It’s for you,” he shrugged, holding it out to me as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed, practically ripping it from his hands. It was soft to the touch and had a red bow tied around its neck. “Really? Why?” I asked.
“You said you felt lonely,” he explained and gestured to the bear, “He’s a new friend.”
I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed so loud. I hugged the bear close to my chest, burying my face into its fur. “You love me so much,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled, “Just don’t tell anyone I said it.”
I didn’t stop talking about it for days.
“Be mine!”; To: Myself, From: Myself
It’s not even a real holiday! It’s a marketing scheme created to manipulate people into believing that love is a necessity by purchasing chocolate and pink-coloured merchandise, I thought to myself.
Not that I have anything against chocolate or the colour pink—on the contrary, I’m a fan of both. But the idea of a holiday which encourages spending money to verify love has always rubbed me the wrong way.
Exactly one month following the end of my three-year relationship, I found myself alone on Valentine’s Day. During my relationship, I had always prided myself on not requiring superfluous expressions of love to validate my feelings. Now that I was alone, I realized that what I actually loved about the “day of love,” was having someone else there.
Everywhere I went, I was reminded of my newly found “single” status. The lavish decorations of hearts and balloons, which I once rolled my eyes at, now brought forth feelings of failure and loneliness. Why had a day that I once scoffed at become a source of pain?
Instead of spending my day vacillating between internal pity and external annoyance, I decided that I would redefine how I celebrate love. Even if I no longer experienced romantic love, I realized there are countless forms of love to celebrate—including self-love.
I shifted my perspective and fully embodied the concept of “treat yourself.” Treating yourself simply includes engaging in acts that make you happy for your own sake. What I learned from this practice was an invaluable lesson: loving yourself is the greatest gift you can give and receive on Valentine’s Day.
So don’t despair if you find yourself newly alone this Valentine’s Day. Try practicing self-love, and maybe, like me, your worst Valentine’s Day might miraculously change into the best.
My spooky valentine
Five years ago, for our first Valentine’s Day, my partner surprised me with a haunted tour of one of my favourite spots in Toronto: the Distillery District. I have always been a history buff and loved scaring myself with stories of paranormal activity—this was the perfect blend of the two. Surprisingly, being from Toronto, I had never taken such a tour in the city, despite there being so many haunted options.
The tour took place in the evening; the dark sky added to the excitement. We walked around the Distillery District with a guide dressed in a cloak with a lantern. We listened to stories of the people who helped build the District and their unfortunate demises. We finished the evening scouring the city for an open ice cream shop so we could try the most fun flavour they had. I had no idea this would be the beginning of my favourite tradition.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it difficult for us to continue this tradition but this year, we’re back at it! Now living in Ottawa, we’ll be spending our Valentine’s Day holding hands during a haunted tour of former Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s summer estate. Maybe, we’ll finish the evening with a warm beavertail rather than ice cream—after all, we are in the birthplace of the iconic Canadian treat.