I hit my I-hate-Valentine's Day wall a few years back, having grown tired of giving my power away to a random winter's day and all the propaganda that went along with it. Railing against Valentine's Day took just as much effort as playing into Valentine's Day, while proving equally stupid. Why hate on love just because I wasn't inhabiting a version of it that looked like the trumped-up fairy tale this culture and the Hallmark corporation continue to shove down our throats?
And so it was that I chose to take Valentine's Day back and make it work for me. Determined to free myself from the baggage of V-Days past while embracing the energies of love, love and more love, I decided to be the love I craved, instead of whining about all the love I wasn't getting, and inadvertently giggled my way into my best Valentine's Day yet.
I recruited my best friend, Justin, who was crashing with me in Beachwood Canyon (think Hyde Park, only funkier and witchier, with trees, hidden staircases and a big Hollywood sign perched on top of the hill). As we shared morning oblations and readied ourselves for Sunday morning dance class, I grabbed a heaping stack of blank Valentine's cards left over from the previous year's entrepreneurial train wreck and a pair of Sharpies.
Our first stop was Naturewell, my favorite Silver Lake juice joint. Think—hmmm…we don’t really have anything comparable here, do we? Think Tea House if, instead of kick-ass yummy tea, it served fresh organic juice, and instead of tourists, the place was swirling with locals, and instead of a mercurial dread-locked employee with Virgo leanings and a short temper (and a part-time Jared who brews a bitchin’ white sage chai with rice milk and endures my moon-born meltdowns with saintly compassion), there was a trio of happy hipsters behind the counter who knew your name and smoothie order by heart.
Justin and I scribbled wildly while waiting for our kale smoothies, taking any and all cues and translating them into Valentine-y love.
"You have a dazzling cluster of freckles on your cheek," I wrote to a woman gargling wheatgrass. "I've decided you are my Valentine."
"Best diastema ever!" Justin wrote. "Valentine-o-rama, brother."
"Thanks for blending so masterfully, Valentine," I wrote to Jackie as she shoved a handful of parsley into a Vitamix, "and for looking so pretty while doing it."
Our hastily scribbled love notes were met with mile-wide smiles and heartfelt bear hugs, which made me wish I had a hundred cards, instead of just the 30.
On to Sweaty Sundays—a "contemporary class for everyone"—and Silver Lake's hottest dance scene (think Railyard's Embodydance, but instead of New Age hippies; lolling freeform twirls; and boring, flutey New Age music, think choreography; catcalls and dirty bass lines; crooked hair; torn fishnets; and tatted trannies with morning-after mascara dripping down their glowing, hungover faces). Stretching out before class amid a fluorescent sea of Eastsiders, we dashed off a slew of cards:
"Valentine, I heart your glittery leg warmers almost [read: nowhere near] as much as I heart your lisp."
"No one chassé ball-changes quite like you do, Valentine. Will you go across the floor with me?"
After sweating our grooves on and making about a dozen dancers exponentially happier with our impromptu literary love bombs, we bounded back out into the world, stopping briefly at Flore, our favorite neighborhood vegan joint (think Annapurna's without the ethnic thing, the cozy-while-hygienically-questionable couch and the diminutive Punjabi mainstay leering at the lady folk) for a tempeh no-tuna melt to go, for which we tipped handsomely with lyrical love memos.
Onward to the Barney's New York warehouse sale, the seasonal mecca for money-shy fashionites with a taste for designer labels and a desperate need for jeans unriddled with holes and stains. Between poring through racks of cashmere and sifting through cardboard boxes stuffed with high-end accessories, we sprinkled the warehouse with impromptu bouts of affection. We loved up the security guard for keeping losses down and saving us from our larcenous tendencies.
I Valentined a woman mid-fight with her teenage daughter who "had to have" a three-sizes-too-big Alexander Wang tunic. ("Dear Valentine: Know that, when she says 'I hate your guts,' she really means, 'I love you for loaning me your nipples for all those months.' You rock, mom. Happy Valentine's Now.") We even got to Valentine the cashier, a sullen Scorpio with a nose ring and killer eyebrows, to whom I composed my undying adoration as Justin waved his pendulum over a pile of clothes, letting invisible guides and the forces of gravity decide which were to follow him home. The cashier was so touched that she burst into tears and darted around the counter to thank us both with sloppy, skinny-armed bear hugs and a tear-wet smile.
It's funny (sad, silly, lame)—all those years I wasted lamenting the love I thought I lacked, and thus refused to honor, when the truth was: I was that love the whole time.
Here's to Valentine's Day and every shred of love that animates this wacky-ass world we share. I'm tickled to have a chance to celebrate such a phenomenal force, however it chooses to shape itself.
Editor's note: A previous version referred the Tea House employee described as the proprietor; it has been corrected to reflect this change.