I’m done hating Valentine’s Day. Instead, I celebrate the sort of love that I actually embrace: the communion of kindred spirits. As Camus (yes, I’m quoting an existentialist today) says: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
This week, I received a Valentine’s package of candy and lace and handmade notes from my glorious goddaughters Delia and Luci—ages 12 and 9, respectively. It reminded me that, when we were kids, February 14 was a time to celebrate friendship and gobble chocolate. So why not bring that back? Let’s take this holiday, however crassly commercial it may be, as an opportunity to beam extra sweetness into the world. Sparkle with great kindness; I know that’s your real self, anyway. To quote dear Anne of Green Gables: “It’s splendid to find there are so many kindred spirits in the world.”
I send love–juicy, limitless love–to everyone.
Whether or not I’m in a relationship, I have become rawther cynical about the possibilities of romantic love–so much so that the other day I gave a mean little shove to two teens with entwined tongues who were blocking a subway door. But Elizabeth Alexander’s New Yorker elegy for her husband doubles as a testimony to what two people can offer each other in the name of clear-hearted intimacy. Of a dream she had a few years after his death, she writes:
I look back. I look back. I can still see him, smiling and waving me on.
It was the two of us walking the road and now he has let my hand go.
I walk. I can always see him. His size does not change as I move forward: like me, he is five feet nine and a half, exactly right. I can still feel the feel of my hand in his hand as I walk. I wake and the room is flooded with pale-yellow light.
This essay is the most beautiful thing I have read in a very long time. It is so beautiful and so lovingly, piercingly true that, though I still think successful marriages are less attainable than Greta Garbo (now), I am once again grateful that they can exist.