There she was, sitting in La Colombe. Typing away on her marble-skinned MacBook wearing thick, square glasses. Ray Bans, perhaps. Thick, dark hair pulled back in a messy ponytail with a wool gray scarf draped around her neck sipping on what seems to be a cappuccino. Or maybe a latte. Cafe au lait? I’m not sure. Every few seconds she looks up from her screen and purses her lips, perhaps thinking about what to say next. I wonder what she’s writing about. Me, perhaps?
The first article I ever wrote for the Daily Collegian at UMass was titled, “How love being single on Valentine’s Day.” I was sort of talking to someone at the time, so I’m not entirely sure if I was throwing a subtle hint when I chose the topic and/or when I told him what I was writing about (def was) but we ended up dating, so maybe it worked?
Read the throwback here.
I was a sophomore in college, about to turn 20 years old, at the very beginning of my online writing venture. Re-reading it makes me laugh, not because the writing is entirely that bad (minus the fact that the article is one giant cliché), but because instead of being like omg yolo single let’s go spend all of this money on myself and drink wine with my ~girlies~, I have more pressing things to worry about these days.
Like, you know, paying my Pepco bill, fixing my kitchen sink, and calling the doctor’s office to rebook a missed appointment.
My to-do list today is never ending, and none of it involves a boo thang. I refer to Vday as “S.A.D” (Single’s Awareness Day) in my article — so clever Beth! — but these days I sorta feel like every day is Single’s Awareness Day. Not that I’m necessarily “S.A.D” about it, but I don’t need an article to highlight the engagement photos on my newsfeed and f*ckboys I mention quite frequently. Do I sound bitter yet?
I started writing this blog not entirely sure where I was going to go with it. People watching at La Colombe didn’t seem to be doing the trick, so I scoured Thought Catalog, NY Times, and Huffington Post for inspiration, but they all seemed to mesh together.
- I Don’t Know About You, But This Valentine’s Day I’m Going To Enjoy My Goddamn Life
- 14 Things Your Single Ass Should Do This Valentine’s Day
- F&*# Valentine’s Day And All The Men Who Use It To Avoid Actual Romance
- I’m By Myself Today
- 5 Ways To Love YOU, Better This Valentine’s Day
The list could continue. Mostly self-centric, “love yourself” type of posts sprinkled with some dinner ideas and a dash of sex talk. None of it really inspired me.
Ah, fuck it. I said to myself. I left the draft on WordPress sit open and unfinished as I continued to work on my grad school application.
I talk a lot about the importance of self-care. The importance of being at peace with your own thoughts and decisions. The ability to always know you will be ok, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. The ability to feel ok with being alone, to feel ok with being, well, you.
I scrolled through Instagram the afternoon, double tapped away at dozens and dozens of roses, cute “candids,” and my favorite, a woman hugging a giant bottle of wine. These days, my love life has been rather sporadic. Nothing consistent and nothing that has really made me want to pull away from myself, friends, or Bad Feminist book.
Maybe it’s just you, Beth.
Valentine’s Day: the day we pretend to ignore, but one that cannot be avoided entirely. I woke up at 5:00am to head to the gym, hardly remembering where my toothbrush was never mind the date. My phone pinged at roughly 6:30am with a group chat. A Happy Valentine’s Day bitmoji. Ah, today’s the day. “Happy Vday lovezzzz!” I reply.
Later in that morning, my mom calls. After a rather brief conversation I tell her I love her and push the red button on my phone and crack the eggs over the stove. A few moments later, I feel my phone vibrate again. “Hey, what’s up?” I answer.
“I forgot to tell you, Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.”
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too, mum.
Ask me on any given day, I’m content with being single. I have enjoyed navigating through life on my own these past couple of years. I seek friends and family for guidance along the way, but I have spent a lot of time figuring things out by myself. There has never been a time in my life where I’ve felt more at ease with being alone. I’m not sure if that makes me sound like a total loser, but it’s the truth. I was always a “boyfriend” kind of girl. I enjoyed consistency. I enjoyed having the same person to text, to see at the bar, to call when I was having a shitty day. And at times, I miss that.
I miss someone else validating my worth, but I’ve found it more empowering to be able to validate it on my own. Not because I’ve always wanted it to be that way, but because I don’t really have a choice.
I write off a lot of men for various reasons. Perhaps it was a slight glitch in their personality that released a red flag, or they showed up overly intoxicated to my bar and demand “a beer and a kiss,” (yes this happened). Other times it’s simple laziness from either party. There may have been an initial connection, but it’s short-lived due to scheduling conflicts, uncertainty, or other love interests at the time.
I now find myself in La Colombe coffee shop. The man to my right is nose deep in a Stephen King (nothing says romantic quite like King), and the couple to my right is chatting away about politics (because, #DC).
There is a small child across the way with platinum blonde hair wearing a long red, polka-dotted dress printed with the words “I Love You!” She points to the heart stitched on the stomach and said, “Mommy, I love you!”
The barista has a long, thick braid resting down her back with large gold hoops and a Nike snapback. I squint to get a closer look at her tattoos. In Love We Trust is inked on her left arm surrounded by an intricate floral design, vibrant with deep reds and pinks.
Then there’s a man with a plaid scarf. Hair gelled to the side, beard trimmed, in a grey suit paired with a red tie. I sat at my marble-skinned MacBook typing this blog post, unsure of exactly where I was going to take it. I kept glancing up, and awkwardly making eye contact with him each time. I wonder if he knows I’m writing about Valentine’s Day, or him, for that matter.
“Are you writing about me?” he asks playfully.
I look up from my screen, Well, maybe now I am, I laugh.
“Nick,” he says as he extends his arm out.
Beth, I say quietly.
He looks over my screen, “I knew you were blogging! Don’t make it another cliche Elite Daily article. I beg you. I’m far more interesting.”
I’ll try my best. (definitely blushing at this point)
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he smiles and starts to gather his things, “maybe next time I can buy your cappuccino, latte, or cafe au lait. Whatever you’re drinking.”
It’s a cappuccino.
“Well, a cappuccino it is,” he smiles as he turns to the exit, “You should call me sometime, or text. Maybe LinkedIn message?” I laugh as I grab the business card from his hand and watch him leave.
I promise I won’t turn you into an Elite Daily article.
“Better not,” he winks as the door quietly shuts behind him.
A coffee shop, a single woman, and a cute guy? Total blog material. I reopen the WordPress tab and my fingers begin tapping away.
I’m not sure if Nick created a narrative about me before he striked up a conversation. If he noticed me actively observing my surroundings or the way my lips always press together when I’m deciding what words I’m going to type next.
I was told by an old professor, “Stories don’t unfold on their own. Specific events do. You have to create the inspiration from the events and then later create the story. Create the narrative.”
In this case, Nick seemed to create the narrative for me. The cursor on my WordPress draft would have still been blinking on a half-blank screen without him unexpectedly becoming a part of the story. Or would it have? I can’t help but wonder if scenarios like this happen at random, or if there is some greater purpose to it all.
I can’t help but wonder if right now I’m single by choice, by fate, or by chance. Perhaps I need this time to write my own story, or perhaps I need to actively create a different narrative and see where it takes me.
Events happen. Stories are created.
And, oh yeah, Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.