In a college acting class, we were asked to do an exercise in "emotional recall": choosing a moment in your life and using the memory of all the environmental details to dredge up the emotions you felt. The moment I chose was the previous Valentine's Day, and the memory was of having my heart broken.
I closed my eyes and remembered standing against the wainscotting next to the kitchen door, the light switches pressing into my back. I remembered staring at the floor and the dining room table. I remembered the tension of the atmosphere and the deadness in the pit of my stomach. And I remembered my loved one telling me and my family that it wasn't my fault, that it wasn't our faults, but that it was time to go. I remembered the footsteps down the stairs and the click of the latch on the door and the rush of tears as my mother left the house, seeminly for good. I remembered the sense of relief afterward at the thought of the severing of this relationship and the lightness of having the burden of love taken off my back. And, when she suddenly reconsidered, the almost unbearable weight of having to shoulder the cross of love again.
This is why, for me, Valentine's Day has never been about the sweetness of love, but rather a memorial of its overwhelming and almost unbearably crushing weight.
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