Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh Shit, Valentine's Day

With the move behind me, I came to contemplate the rest of the month of February. Seems one of the most Hallmark of holidays will soon be upon us. I was made most aware of this when out with my brother and his wife in Chicago on Saturday night after packing all day.

They had invited all their friends to a local Mexican place to stop by and say goodbye. I walked past the mannequin dressed up as a bandito into a dining room in full-on red paper hearts and mylar balloons Valentine's "splendor". It was the decor you'd have expected if the junior prom committee had been hired to decorate with a $100 budget.

While I can appreciate, as a business man, their desire to tap into the Valentine's dinner market, barring a terrific sense of humor and irony on the part of my sweetie, I don't think they'd be on my short list. Acid test: Does the restaurant you're thinking of for Valentine’s have a big screen TV?

But the place did remind me that I do have some sweeties in my life this year. And I have no idea what to do about any of it. The key is to find precisely the right way of acknowledging their meaning in my lives. Too much, and I'm signaling more than what I feel. Too little, and feelings are hurt.

And I only have one Feb 14th. Time spent with one is time not spent with another that day.

I write as if there's this giant list of women. There's not. Meg is very casual, on again, off again. Hell, I haven't seen her since Christmas. M, well, that's heading more towards off from my end these days. She wants a boyfriend. I don't want to invest that much time with any one person. It's clear to me that I also don't want a relationship with someone who I feel wants more than I can give. I feel a little pressured and a little smothered with her, and it makes my inner voice yell out "run away!". I did learn that, in the future, I'm not going to let things get physical before being very clear about what I do and don't have room for in my life. I don't think M would have been open to connecting that way with me had she known, but once she did, there was some bad "sunk cost" thinking on both our parts: "Given what's gone on, we should try to go down this path".

K is great. When we're together, we're together, and when we're not, we're ok. And if I imagine my Valentine's day spent with anyone, it's her. Doing something that's appropriately "us" and appropriately not "mainstream Valentine's celebration".

I think right now I just hate the feeling of obligation. I don't want to do anything because I "have to". I want to do things because I want to. Valentine's day has a lot of "have to" in it, and I think this is why parts of me resent it so.