In the past, most of my Valentines days have pretty much been disasters. The worst Valentines were actually the ones when I found myself in a relationship. For one reason or another, our best laid plans always turned out to a be a bust. Expectations were unfulfilled. Hopes were dashed. Drama ensued. More often than not, my then-lovers and I would end the day in passive-aggressive anger rather than the throes of passion.
The best V-days for me have been the ones I’ve spent alone.. focusing on self-care, meditating, sipping on champagne, getting my nails done and
sobbing uncontrollably while watching old epis of Grey’s Anatomy. So it was not without some trepidation that I noted February 14th fast a-coming, and wondered if this might be my first-ever boo’ed up Valentines that was not an epic fail.
“Your job,” I joked with my girlfriend recently, “is to not fuck up Valentines.” If we just made it through the day without any cray, we’d be making history. From prior experience, I’d learned that projection-fueled expectations were the enemy of intimacy. We talked at length about how we each experienced disappointment in Valentines past, and how we thought we’d avoid such scenarios this time around. Part of our approach was making light of the whole thing. Valentines? Whatevs! We were too evolved, too emotionally mature to buy into an arbitrary, commercialized holiday.
I was elated when a buddy invited us out for Valentines karaoke — it meant I didn’t have to come up with any plans, and we’d spend the evening in drunken reverie with other folks who were too-cool-for-school and refused to take Valentines seriously. But then, the 1000th snow-storm of the season hit New York and my friend had to cancel our karaoke plans. Shit. What are we gonna do?
* * *
On any given Sunday, I open my eyes and find myself in her arms. As light streams through the window, she begins to smile. She always wakes up like this — smiling, happy. Her eyelashes are naturally long, lush and black — the kind people pay for. The smell of her is somewhere between floral and crisp citrus. I love waking up next to her.
Sometimes we share our dreams from the night before. We snuggle and hold hands. Morning unfurls with coffee, a fruit smoothie and maybe satsang with Mooji, broadcast all the way from Portugal onto the flat screen in my living room. Our conversations range from the cosmic to the comic to the mundane. I love her voice. She loves mine. I listen to her speak and I fall in love again and again. The way she thinks, the words she chooses, the energy of her spirit — the flow of her chi. I listen and smile. I’m happy.
We are very different. But the differences are complementary. And in the important ways, we fit. We are both married to our own authenticity, self-care and self-love. We laugh and laugh and laugh.
* * *
She insists on walking on the traffic-side as we head down the street. She holds my hand. At home, I cook dinner. We sip wine over candle light. She does the dishes. “Can I get you anything?” Could be either one of us asking. We are often checking in.
We are both doing something together that we’ve never done before: Living in the authentic, loving, healthy relationship that we’ve tried and failed to have in the past. We share a commitment to self-awareness and compassionate honesty. As we deepen our bond, we progressively confront romantic projections, letting go of our fantasies and embracing a clear-eyed acceptance of the human beings that we are.
There is the inevitably bumpy transition from honey-moon lust to solidified commitment — complete with fears and doubts and insecurities. You wonder if this is the right relationship, the right time. You tremble in the not-knowing and uncertainty of it all. You wait for answers that are slow in coming. And when they do arise, you find your connection stronger, more authentic. A deeper union. A deeper friendship. Trust and acceptance, growing in the garden of your love.
* * *
With Kei, I’m learning about vulnerability as spiritual practice . . . What it means to build a relationship in which it is safe to take the risk of honoring my truth, even and especially when it’s scary to do so. I’m also learning what it means to be the space for her to share her scary truths. Together, we are making it up as we go along, learning by doing, trying to be mindful and loving to ourselves and each other along the way.
This Valentines day, there were no epic expectations and no epic disasters, either. Just precious time spent with a beautiful woman who has become both partner and friend. Time spent exchanging gifts we secretly got each other despite our pretense of boycotting V-day. Time spent eating food we love, drinking wine, sharing unconscious and conscious dreams, deepening our intimacy, joking, sharing support, reflecting on our pasts, projecting into the future and being honest about how exciting and scary it all is.
She didn’t fuck it up. And neither did I. And that is definitely something to celebrate.