Had I known this was going to be our last Valentine’s Day, I would have stayed in that restaurant with you. Long after the check was paid. Long after the patrons, the waiters and the chefs had cleared out. I would have taken you to the dance floor and swayed to the sound of your voice, the dim lights glowing above like stars in the night sky. The band played, the waitress kept the drinks coming, and our hands held amidst a table full of food that we barely touched. Holding onto you, I felt so at peace. I stared into your eyes, smiling, murmuring how odd the night began, and how perfectly it ended.
Had I known this was going to be our last Valentine’s Day, I would’ve stopped that fight we had on the way to the restaurant. What were we fighting about? I don’t know. It seems so trivial now, so laughably insignificant in the scheme of things. To know that our fight, like the rest that would soon follow, would eventually end. I would have pulled the car over and gently pressed my face closer to yours and kissed you while the world passed us by. I should have known then that everything was hopelessly and tragically bound to come and go.
Had I known this was going to be our last Valentine’s Day, I would have tried to top the year before. Our first Valentine’s Day. I showered your bed with Hershey’s kisses and left a cheap heart-shaped necklace on your desk, along with instructions to call me. My phone lit up and I dashed from my apartment over to yours. I knocked. You answered, the necklace adorned across your chest. You were about to tell me how much you loved it when you paused upon seeing the roses in my hands. Heart pounding, I looked into your eyes and recited the poem I had spent the week prior writing and memorizing. I began, stuttering, trembling in front of you like I was in some school talent show. I wanted it to be perfect. As I fumbled my way through the first rhyme, you brought your hands up to your face and whisked away the tears. It was so unbearably cute. I couldn’t help it. I laughed. You did too. We both stood there laughing and crying. Two people so idiotically in love. You apologized. I said there was no need. The jitters were gone, and the poem became clear in my head. I cleared my throat. And I began once more.
I don’t know why I didn’t bother to do something else the following year, the year of our last Valentine’s Day. All I had was a bag full of kisses and a copy of Begin Again. I knew how much you wanted to see it in theaters, how pissed you were when you found out it wasn’t getting a wide release. So when I saw it at Target the week before, it felt like the stars had aligned. I shouldn’t have stopped there. But I did. I didn’t buy roses. I didn’t even bother to write a haiku. It’s true that we were in college and barely scraping by, but I was in even worse shape financially the year before, yet I couldn’t shell out for this one. I don’t know why I didn’t try. Perhaps that was why it was our last Valentine’s Day.
After we broke up, I remember wishing none of it had happened. Us. Our friendship. Having met in the first place. Now, another Valentine’s Day approaches. I should be bitter, but I’m not. You were my best friend and you knew how much I hated Valentine’s Day. I was still nursing the wounds of a breakup prior to meeting you. It left me hollow, and I balked at the smell of chocolates and roses. With you, I grew to love it again, heart-shaped necklaces and all. With us said and done, I’m in another position to hate Valentine’s Day. Strangely enough, I don’t.
I got to spend a Valentine’s Day with you. Two of them, in fact. No matter how chaotic our last Valentine’s Day started, how increasingly chaotic our relationship became, I still feel so lucky that I got to be with you, even luckier having loved you. We met in a world full of billions of people. We became friends amidst a sea of profile pictures on Facebook. Our lives collided out of the thousands of students at one little university. We held onto each other for a brief moment in time. And what a beautiful dance it was.
I wouldn’t have changed the fact that it was our last Valentine’s Day. Because nothing is ever meant to last. We were supposed to meet. We were supposed to end. It took me a while, but I see how romantic that is. How a grand and intimate chapter in my life began and ended with you.