I was grabbing a coffee at the Amarak in Luther Bonney when I saw it. “Nuttin’ but Love,” a featured Valentine’s Day blend from Coffee by Design. The name references both a Heavy D and the Boyz hit from 1994, and the nutty undertones of the coffee. I enjoy a little nut flavor in my coffee, especially in the afternoon, but I immediately recoiled in horror.

I hate Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is to love what Christmas is to family. If you’re not in love on Valentine’s Day, it’s like a giant magnifying glass on the problem.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a total cynic, the Grinch of Valentine’s Day. Why care about a day devoted to love when you’re destined to spend the rest of your life alone and unloved? But now that I’m in a relationship, I understand it’s not just single people who have it hard on Feb. 14.

My boyfriend brought it up very casually over dinner, while I was shoveling Pad Thai into my face.

“So, Valentine’s Day is coming up,” he remarked. I did my best to not gag on the noodles or temporarily black out. Instead of answering, I looked at him like a deer in headlights.  I had to try and act normal, because the topic seems to conjure a pretty standard timeline in a lot of girl’s minds: Valentine’s Day, true love, engagement, marriage. Followed by a house, some babies and happily ever after.  Valentine’s Day is like the gateway to my own personal hell.

My second most immediate fear was that something suffocating and completely outside of my comfort zone was about to be suggested. Dinner at Fore Street, followed by the Symphony? The last thing I’d want would be some kind of ridiculously grand gesture. Even a trip to a popular restaurant is tainted; the place inevitably brimming with the unnerving spectacle of couples acting abnormally.

Then there’s the dilemma of repaying that kind of romance and chivalry. Other than in the bedroom, how to you reciprocate?

He lives on West End here in Portland, and I live on the East End. With the windchill factors below zero on a regular basis, it’s practically a long distance relationship. When we’re together, we’ve been holing up, eating in and watching movies. But it’s only been a few months — we’re not ready to settle into a boring routine.

So despite myself, there was no way I could suggest we stay in on the most romantic day of the year, lest we shuttle straight through the rose-colored lenses phase in the blink of an eye. An activity requiring a dress code slightly more formal than pajamas did seem appropriate.

I shrugged in response and said that we could go out, as long as we went somewhere normal, which sort of counts as acting interested in Valentine’s Day. I didn’t care what we did, as long we were together and the city was plastered in photocopied red hearts.


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