Valentine’s Day, Ugh
We celebrate the most flashy and least important part of love. Sigh.
In my life, I’ve only fallen victim to romantic love twice. In today’s world you can map exactly where in the brain it all happened and how. But in actuality, we are all like old Rose in the 1997 movie Titanic, after she has been explained why and how the Titanic sunk, thinking “are you fucking kidding me? but it felt so colossal! All this time it was just ‘neurons firing away?? fuck you.” Well, guess what, like Rose, I also have a 4hr movie explanation about what it feels to be in love! (or one page). When the neurons fire… love makes you feel the things you never want to feel: vulnerable, fearful, giddy, devastatingly sad, overwhelmingly joyous, agonizingly jealous. You literally ‘feel all the feels’. You can’t experience loss of control more violently than under the dictatorship of love. I remember when I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t go through any of that again, and yet, yet… also hoping it could happen again. Warum??? (excuse my weaksauce German, it spills out a bit). To be honest, it was not the fairytales and princess stories we are fed as children, it was that I could not replicate that feeling of happiness on my own, with anything I did. I recalled a life where I was holding the sun in my hands, the life I wanted, and a love so strong. But I reached heights that were so steep and so long, they yielded a miserable plummet. At the bottom, there was regret, there was anger, there was a gaping wound. A decade of wounds actually… but since I couldn’t take my eyes off of holding the sun, I missed all the third degree burns.
Love was never the same. All of its images, its promise, its myth, were actually betrayal and lies to me. The prospect of love was also the prospect of massive pain. So when it knocked on my door again, when I let my guard down for a second — for one damn night — it snuck in and I was wholly unprepared. What followed was panic and a desire to flee. Yet to my dismay, I was immobile, I was bathing in kryptonite and I was not going anywhere. Despite my protestations, I let love in and now I live in Germany (wtf happened, right?). There is this idea that we always have a choice, that we can always move in any direction. I scoff at this theory now, because if that was true, foolish and unimaginable things would never happen, everyone would play it safe. But our choices are constrained and sometimes predetermined by a plethora of events that have shaped our feelings, thoughts, and motivations. Predetermined choices based on path dependency: sigh, that’s another 4 hour movie. I digress.
A lot is said about ‘what love is’. In this very scientific world we live in there are differentiations. Most people think love is infatuation, and it is amusing to watch when that occurs. People pledging to die for each other and months (or up to 2 years later) they can’t even stay shallow friends on facebook. The chemicals in our brain, they explain evertyhing about what happens in this time period. But the best allegory for romantic love really is a as a drug. Recently, an article about these neurons firing explained that the same brain mechanisms found in addiction are found in romantic love. Bro, do I agree. The seesaw of paragraphs 1 and 2 are precisely that. I ocassionally missed the high that you get from being in love and also remembered how I let myself be destroyed because I could not quit the habit. Furhtermore, I was unable to escape a second time, it hurts my pride but I have to admit it just felt so good to take the love drug again! bah.
When you tie the ends and realize that Valentine’s Day is spent glorifying a natural brain-drug addiction, it is actually a little bit funny. Makes you wonder about that non-chemically induced love, how does it happen? how do we come to love our friends, our family members, how do we form bonds? Presumably after the 6month to 2year chemicals firing action, romantic love either dies or evolves into a love bond, one that is closer to how we love our bffs. A more complicated process, that science has less straight forward prescriptions for. And so, I think I will continue to stick with how Venezuelans conceptualize Valentine’s day, as “the day of love and friendship”. It implies less restaurant visits, less red roses, less diamonds… but more gratefulness, and at least one day to acknowledge a major reason that makes this unfair, brutish, and short, life worth living. At the end of the day, what matters more? to have someone giving you a highfor several months, or to have someone as part of your life for years? The answer should be obvious… but sigh, the latter is less exciting, more laborious, and definitely less sexy.