The last time someone asked me to be their Valentine was around the time the French sent the Americans a big ass statue. It’s been so long that I’ve started marking time since then in terms of events. The year after I went to university…the time I was in that car accident…the day I was sworn in as a cop…that time I almost won a weekend at Caesar’s Palace…blah blah blah…

But I celebrate my birthday every year! And every year on the eve of my birthday I turn off the lights, get into bed and dread becoming older…and the attention one’s birthday inevitably brings… But every next morning I rise and find the sky bluer and flowers brighter than the previous day.

I turn 41 today. I can tell from my bathroom mirror that things are starting to crack and melt all at the same time, but I feel this ridiculous sense of gratitude.

How lucky am I?

I get to go to a job I love…although Lord knows I will never admit that in public. I get to hang out with colleagues I don’t hate…half of whom have become my friends.

I get to teach some outrageous students…some of whom took it upon themselves to decorate my office with balloons and punish me sweetly by singing in class.

And I get to have friends. Friends who took me to my favorite Mexican restaurant where I had far too many margaritas and far too much guac. And every year my friends talk to me and look at me on my birthday like I’m something special. Like I matter to them. Like I’m loved.

Every year on my birthday I look at the gifts my friends still buy me after all this time. And I realize they’ve listened to me all year long. For what I’ve received is what I’ve talked about; what I’ve dreamed about in front of them, without realizing it; without meaning to.

Then I say to those who dip their heads in pity when I have no Valentine’s date…don’t you pity me; don’t you dare. I have loves; I have plenty of ’em. And they listen and they care and they love. It may not be conventional romantic love but that little hole inside of me is all filled up.

Now if you’ll excuse me please…there’s a chococino in my kitchen with my name on it…

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

[Image by Sheila Santillan]

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