Given the time of year, the subject of Love is on my mind, so I thought I'd share my thoughts, gripes and experience with you, dear readers.
Even when I was painfully single I've never been one of those people who moans about Valentine's Day. In fact, I've always been annoyed at people who go off on one about how it's just made up to sell cards yadda yadda yadda.
Having always been a hopeless romantic, the idea of the day was always a pleasant thing. When I was with someone I'd enjoy finding them a gift, or planning an evening. When I was courting I'd gain a thrill about a gesture that might impress my quarry, though it often ended up being more intense stalkery then cute. When I was single, though it put a nice neon sign around my isolation, there was always the hope that next year I'd be able to make a fuss of more than my cats (I can't complain, the cats always put out.)
When people complain about 14th February I have the same bugbear as when folk go on about Fathers/Mothers day; what's wrong with taking a day to celebrate what you have?
I'm in no doubt that Valentine's Day is a great marketing ploy, and Interflora and Cadburys are hardly suppliers energy companies or oil barons. Your partner doesn't need oversized teddies and flowers to heat their home or move their car. If you have a problem spending money on branded stuff, instead be original. It's a day to think about love, not to buy crap. There's nothing stopping a person being loving throughout the year, but why not have a day just to focus on love?
What I've found is that the word Love is highly inadequate. Much like the Inuit people supposedly (http://mentalfloss.com/article/33693/how-many-words-do-eskimos-really-have-snow) have hundreds of words for snow, we should have multiple words for Love.
I LOVELego, I LOVE the coffee at Everbean, I LOVE Queens of the Stone Age; but I can't compare that to the LOVE I have for my family. The problem is that we use the same word to sum up different kinds of enjoyment when true Love is a profound feeling.
While it's not incorrect to say you love a particular shop do you really love it? Does it fill your heart with joy? Do you constantly think about it? Do you want to share your day with it? If you do feel this way, fantastic. If you work at said shop, I feel for you. But in truth while I do really, really like it there, it doesn't make my soul sing.
I'm exceedingly lucky in love. Over the years I've had the odd (in every sense of the word) girlfriend who at the time I loved. Then seven years ago I feel IN love. See, this is a sappy distinction that I'm sure a lot of you are rolling your eyes at, but in my experience it exists. The girl I was with before my wife, I did love. I cared about her and went through the relationship motions, and was happy for a couple of years. When we split I was in pieces. Once I'd sorted myself out and got out of adult diapers, my wife and I got together. Now before I go on, if you don't want to read gushing romantic sentiment, skip the next two paragraphs for your own sanity.
See, when I fell in love with my (now) wife I realised that while I'd loved women, I'd not been IN love with a woman. The way she made (makes) me fell was all encompassing. I felt like a hole that was within me had been filled. Not that I couldn't live a fulfilled life without her, but she complemented me in ways I'd never thought of. That's complemented like Ice Cream and Pecan Pie, not "why Matt what a lovely leather vest and hotpants combination."
As time went on I realised what a lucky bastard I was to have this amazing, thoughtful, honest, caring, supportive and beautiful woman in my life. Best of all she loved me back. Look don't get me wrong, she and I fight like cats and dogs (claws and hissing) and get on each other's nerves constantly; but that's part of it. Our feelings mean that whenever anything goes on, good or bad, it's always framed by this emotion. When I experience anything good, she is the first person I want to share it with. Even if it's pathetic excitement over shit she'd doesn't care about. When I experience joy, I want her to experience joy. I could go, on but really it's even making me feel a bit queasy.
Further to loving my wife (this will get sappy again but you've missed the worse if you skipped ahead) three years ago I discovered a new kind of love.
When someone tells you how it'll be having a child, it's always woefully short of what it's really like. You can't be prepared for the exhaustion, both physically and mentally. But the thing I hadn't realised is the kind of love I'd feel for my kids.
See, if you're about to have a sprog you'll be told how much you'll love them, how you'd die for them, but until they're there you really can't comprehend it. If loving my wife was finishing the painting, my children were the reasons for making the art in the first place. It is a pervasive and anchoring feeling that is at my very core. My affection towards my spawn (even when they're kicking my in the genitals or trying to lick my nose) is never ending. I look at them and I'm almost overcome at how I feel. When I met my son for the first time the surge of emotions brought me to tears. I'm deeply sorry for every time I was an arsehole to my parents. It was the revelation of this love that made the word 'love' woefully inadequate in my eyes.
I couldn't really love the books of Gareth Powell or Chuck Wendig; sorry guys. Things that even filled me with joy and enjoyment, couldn't compete with these three people in my life. So, I've decided to become verbose (as if I wasn't already) with my descriptions.
"Why mother, my feelings towards that orange cake are deep and complex. Its flavours dazzles, its moistness is divine, and the fact it has no fat lifts my heart in song. But I cannot be as bold as to say I love it."
I'm lucky, I can put into words at least a bit of how I feel. But even then just saying I LOVE my wife, I LOVE my children will never be enough.
So, if you're in a relationship, take even an hour of the midpoint of February, and just think about how you feel about your partner. Revel in yourselves and enjoy your feelings. If you don't want a novelty heart balloon, buy them their favourite chocolate bar and a coffee. Gestures big and small can make the person in your life aware that they're important. Just underline the day to day.
If you're single, consider the love you want and try and move towards it. I know it's bloody easy to say, but stop sulking and do it. I don't care who you are, there's love out there for you. Even Katie Hopkins has a husband.
I'm Matt, I have a sizeable affection for Valentine's Day.