When I was growing up, every Valentines Day my mom would leave heart-shaped boxes of Dove chocolates on the kitchen table for my brother and I to find when we came down for breakfast.
She would instruct us not to eat it all at once. I would immediately eat it all at once.
My brother, who has more self-control than most monks, would put his heart-shaped box on the kitchen counter and go about his day like a normal human who hadn’t ingested enough sugar for a month. And then my mom would take his box and hide it—from me.
When I was 15 and we moved out of the house I grew up in, I remember finding boxes of chocolate hidden around the kitchen from years past. My mom and brother had forgotten about them and their excellent hiding skills had prevented me from finding them, despite what I’m certain was some serious searching.
I’ve had years with Valentines and years without. And, honestly, my years without have always been better than my years with—which, I suppose makes sense as all those Valentines have come and gone. But I think that it’s also because the years without have been their own love stories in a way.
Last February 14th I sat around a big table filled with friends, cheese, and chocolate, and drank too much wine while my little dog sat in my lap and we all laughed at our funny flawed dating lives. This year I have guaranteed happiness because I’m spending my evening with friends watching Dave Chappelle, and then going home to a large dog who has taken to sleeping next to me while snoring absurdly loudly.
These are my kind of love stories. Not the buy-me-red-roses and take-me-to-dinner kind. But rather the mom who always had chocolate boxes, the friends who gather around my table, and the funny dog who likes to rests her snout on my shoulder.