Dear Valentine,

“Should I blog on Val’s day or should I not?” This question has been tossed back and forth numerous times in my mind. I’ve wondered: what could I possibly have to say about Val’s Day that isn’t already out there? Heck, there’s an entire movie dedicated to the day. But finally, the story found me. Just as it always does.

My “Gnashing” History
In primary school, I gnashed. In JSS, I gnashed. In SSS, I gnashed. Right now, well, I’ve obliterated the word “gnash” from my vocabulary, so let’s just say “I…”. But wait. That leaves it open to interpretation, doesn’t it?

I’m sure many of you who went to high school in Ghana know all too well what “gnash” means; even if you claim to have never experienced it yourself. For those foreign to the word, hmm, how do I explain this? It’s kind of like getting stood up? Or having an important occasion go unnoticed? Well anyway, I’ll admit that I did. If you’re talking about gifts, sweets, cards, teddy bears and what have you from boyfriends and significant others, then yes. I gnashed. For one thing, I’d told myself I didn’t want or need a boyfriend because I didn’t want or need that distraction in my life. Honestly though, I didn’t want to find out my parents’ reaction at learning I had a boyfriend. And yes, I believe I would have told them.

The “Unpopular” Valentine
But the fact that I had no boyfriend to “spread” (pamper) me on Val’s Day didn’t mean I gnashed in other areas. Not at all! The “suppression, oppression and depression” affected me occasionally, but certainly not all the time. I’d receive cute lil’ surprises from supposed admirers; I once received a little red book entitled “On Love”! I know right, how appropriate! And boy, did I fill my head with those love quotes.  And then, there were the little expressions of love from my girls. – For those who don’t know what “a-girling” is, it’s basically the Wesley Girls’ version of the “school mother – school daughter” relationship. – So my girls always made Val’s Day a memorable occasion. With Amansh for instance, we wrote notes to each other on a daily basis. On Val’s Day or even Novi (November) Rush, we went the extra mile…literally. She’d find a wad-of-cash-looking note all rolled up on her nicely decorated bed, and once she unrolled it, there wasn’t any way she wouldn’t notice. So, I must say that while I haven’t had many valentines in the “popular” sense, I have had valentines; spontaneous ones which always succeeded in warming my heart.

My Pre-Valentine
This year, my Valentine’s Day started early. I met up with a wonderful woman and friend, Arame Tall, after work on Friday, and she took me out on a date. We went to dinner at another friend’s place – Sali – where we had a sumptuous meal, talked about Africa’s economic integration and development – which, by the way, we ended up calling “The Cause” – and she bought Sali and I roses! Now how sweet is that?! Afterwards, we headed to the theater to watch Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, author of my favorite book/movie, The Notebook. I adored it. Sparks seems to have a thing for letters, just like I do. Like his characters, I save my letters (and birthday cards and sweet memorabilia). Needless to say, I’m a grade one romantic. We left the theater around midnight and then spent at least an hour trudging ten blocks in the snow, slush and freezing cold. I was convinced I was getting frostbite. Talk about not feeling the love! Eventually, a taxi did stop for us – thanks to Sali’s persistence – and then I was awakened to the fact that despite my consideration of blacks and whites as equals, others would still deny a consumer service because of the color of their skin. Mind you, some of those cab drivers who ignored us were black themselves! Anyway, our lovely cab driver – bless his heart – eventually got Sali and I home. I was so thankful when I arrived that I gave him one of my roses in addition to a generous tip. I guess he counts as one of my valentines?

To Val’s Day or not to Val’s Day?
Now I’ve seen and heard some people say that Val’s Day is overrated. That it’s too commercialized, that it shouldn’t be celebrated. In fact, it should be scrapped altogether. I beg to differ. First, I don’t believe Val’s day should be so burdensome to the point where some guys would pretend to be sick just to avoid the cost! Quite the contrary. I believe Val’s Day should be a simple affair with the respective parties chipping in. It doesn’t always have to be dinner for two at an expensive restaurant; it can be dinner at home trying out a new recipe, messing up badly and settling  for leftovers from the night before while reminiscing about how far you’ve come together. Nor does it have to be “chinchinaa” (by force) you have to get me something or else…It can be “how about I get you something this time, just for the heck of it?” And finally, Val’s Day doesn’t have to be commercialized. It should be whatever you make it to be. Instead of spending money, what about spending time? – We’re in a recession, abi? -How about you sing (or try to sing) me my favorite song, write her a poem or offer to take him out for a walk?

Love Is The Message, and the Message Is Love!
Yea, I’m definitely against scrapping Val’s Day. True we should show the love each and every chance (day) we have, but Val’s Day is also for those people who need an opportunity to hope, love, dream again and give themselves up to the romantic notions that daily living sometimes seeks to rob us of. At the end of the day, love is all there is. [I must say, I have spoken like a true romantic!] So, if you think you’re gnashing this Val’s Day, think again. Happy Valentine’s Day! Will you be my Valentine? ;)

Now & Always,