valentine's day heartsHappy Valentine’s Day Eve. Or as I like to call it, Single’s Awareness Day. It used to be that I was among the cynical about this holiday, thinking like so many others that it was an occasion invented by Hallmark cards, Hershey’s chocolate and every flower shop in the country. In fact, I knew some girls in college who would actually base their self-esteem on how many guys called to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day every year. That kind of thing just isn’t my scene. Not even remotely. I don’t see how receiving a gesture of kindness on Valentine’s Day makes that act of kindness more special than it would have been on any other day. But that is just me.

As I have gotten older, my perspective around Valentine’s Day has changed a bit. Now, instead of seeing it solely as a day where some people get to be romantic and sappy, I think of it more as a day when people can express care for one another. Even though I would be among the first to say that I hope that people express their care to the special people in their lives every day, I think sometimes it is especially important for people who are single.

I will admit that there are not as many people in my life as I wish there were. Sometimes it would be great to have somebody to go and have lunch with or who could really take care of me when I am sick. I would love some company when I go strolling on the bike trail, and it would be great to have someone in my life who just does social things with me. Sometimes I wish I had someone to talk to about my day besides caregivers who are being paid by the hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my caregivers, and I sincerely appreciate all that they do for me. I could not thrive without their support. It’s just that the conversation is a little different when I talk to them then it is when I have a conversation with someone who is just a friend of mine.

But being single also has its advantages. It means that I can eat chips and salsa or chocolate chip cookies for dinner and nobody will judge me. (Leah, my service dog, and I have an understanding. I don’t tell her that her kibble looks disgusting and she refrains from judging what I eat.) Being single also means that I don’t have to “compromise” with anyone for the last piece of cheesecake in the fridge or deciding what movie I want to watch on Netflix. I can stay up all night reading a book without disturbing anyone. (Leah can sleep through anything except someone opening a jar of peanut butter.) And I like all of that. There are simply some things that I wish I didn’t have to handle on my own all the time. And I am keenly aware that in most situations, I am the only one who will advocate for what I need.

In being single, there is an “aloneness” that is hard to articulate. I don’t mean that every single person is depressed or even wants to be part of a couple. I just know that in my life of singleness, I have had several moments of that “it’s me against the world” feeling. It can be incredibly empowering. Especially when I accomplish something that I set out to do all on my own, the win is something that is uniquely mine, and nobody can take that away from me. That feeling can also nudge me to acknowledge my independence and celebrate achieving something that I couldn’t do yesterday. The other side of that though, is that I don’t have someone who can “take a look” at a moment’s notice when my kitchen faucet starts dripping or a screw or bolt on my wheelchair wears out and needs to be replaced.

So I will spend tomorrow looking at scores of Facebook pictures of hearts and flowers and posts full of romance and affection. And I will enjoy them. Because love around me is positive no matter what form it happens to take.

I would just encourage everyone to also remember tomorrow those in their life who aren’t part of a pair, whatever the reason may be. Make a call. Stop by for an unexpected visit. I can tell you that those kinds of gestures can make a significant difference in my perception of my day.

Every single time.