Does everything have to work? Does everything have to be measured entirely by duration? Is there not a fleck of joy to be found in things which cannot last, which cannot hold any of our grandiose expectations? Maybe not. Maybe what I have always taken for temporary happiness was simply that moment in the cartoon before the bad guy falls off the cliff. He’s suspended in air, and for just a moment doesn’t realize that he’s going to plummet to his animated demise. He holds up that sign that says “Yikes!” and doesn’t look down. I know how that feels — you don’t look down, you won’t fall. But you always do. And loving someone it will never work with is that way, too. I’m holding up that sign, waiting for the drop.
I don’t care if it doesn’t work out in the long term, though. I mean, yes, I care, but I’ve resigned myself to the idea that it won’t happen. And there’s something rather liberating about that, actually. I can actually look at you and say “This joy is temporary. This thing — whatever it is — is not here forever, so I might as well get out of it what I can while you’re still around.” Rarely do we allow ourselves to just kind of wallow in the pleasure of something, but to not appreciate things fully when they are guaranteed to be temporary is almost a sin. You lie in bed knowing that the moment they get up from under the covers, it’s not going to be the same. So you hold onto their naked body and enjoy the fact that, for now, they are still lying next to you.
Wouldn’t just a day be nice? It’s Valentine’s Day, and we’re surrounded by people and cards and signs and dinner specials for two that are crying out to us to be in love, or at least in a passable imitation of it. We are supposed to be partnered up because we can’t allow ourselves to feel the cold reality of not having someone who cares enough to send flowers or pay for a nice evening out. We could do those things for each other, even if we know it’s not a permanent display of more serious affections. Sometimes it’s just nice to make someone else feel good for a minute.
I know that there is something more than a touch pathetic about caving so completely to society’s pressure to partner up. I know that many of the relationships which develop from this kind of oppressive expectation are insincere and hollow, based only on a mutual desire to look good and have a warm body to fall asleep next to. But I have real feelings for you, and even if they won’t manifest in something long-term, I can think of no better time to express them. You have made yourself clear in your disdain for all things ‘serious commmitment,’ and I respect that. But we don’t always need bigger promises to make something feel good.
It’s okay to lie. I think more of our everyday interactions than we’d like to admit are based on lies of some kind — at least lies of omission — and I am not offended at the idea of being appeased. Just as you bring someone to a wedding because you don’t want to be hamfistedly placed next to the only other single people at the ceremony (a kind of emotional buffer, if you will), there is a good reason to assign a tiny bit more meaning to what would otherwise be considered a friend-with-benefits for the occasion.
Because maybe relationships don’t have to fulfill everything for everybody. Maybe you are right in wanting less, and I am being overly demanding in wanting something serious. We are filled with these ideas that we are guaranteed some kind of romantic happiness, that the universe owes us a person who wants us in the way we want them, but maybe that’s ridiculous. We aren’t even guaranteed a tomorrow, and there isn’t much sense in denying ourselves the pleasures we could be experiencing because we imagine we’re being chaste for some reward which will never actually come.
So be mine, just for today. Don’t listen to the nagging voice at the back of your head which insists that every romantic gesture must be followed by an even more serious display of long-term care. We can enjoy each other’s company, even if that means two different things for each of us. We can pretend at the kind of love we might have had in another set of circumstances, treat each other with the velvet gloves that people who are more in love than us do. We both know how to do it, we’ve both done it before. There is nothing wrong with dressing the sex up with a bit of romance, even if we know it’s just a few props littering an otherwise-blank stage. It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m willing to take my empty emotional calories. I want to eat the junk food imitation of real sentiment. And I want to do it with you.