Last weekend I went to visit Hank in Leeds for an early Valentine’s weekend. We thought this was a good idea because we knew how busy this weekend would be, and how difficult it would be for us to get into a restaurant or see a film, so doing something nice together a week before Valentine’s would mean it would be less stressful. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In fact, Hank got really stressed out on the day I arrived because he had to rush around buying food, changing his bed, cleaning his room, and cleaning the kitchen after one of his flatmates had left it in a right state. By the time I got there, he was tired and stressed, and I misinterpreted his quietness as a sign that I wasn’t welcome, so I got really upset. Of course, he reassured me that he definitely did want me there, but I found it hard to enjoy myself when he was so quiet. Sunday and Monday were better though, because we spent some time with his friends and had a good time. On Sunday we met up with his friend Simon, and the three of us plus Flannel Piggy (my favourite soft toy) went to the museum:
On Sunday night we had spaghetti bolognese and apple pie with his flatmates and their partners, which was nice. I did feel a bit awkward because I hadn’t met them all before, and I barely said two words all evening… but otherwise I had a nice time. Hank is coming to visit me in 3 weeks because my flatmates are going home for a fortnight and I don’t like being alone in this big creaky house for too long. I’m looking forward to it, because we always seem to have a better time at mine than at his.
Although I had a nice time overall at Hank’s place, it didn’t feel very romantic, and we didn’t really get into the Valentine’s mood. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but this year felt different. A few days ago, my flatmate asked me what Hank and I had bought each other for Valentine’s Day, and I told her that we couldn’t afford to buy each other gifts, so we just got each other cards. She seemed surprised when I said that. My flatmate and her boyfriend like to buy each other nice gifts all the time, and use every opportunity to do so – birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. Of course, this year was no different, and she spent about £30 on him. Her enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day rubbed off on me a little, and it made me feel really bad, actually. I wish I had the money to spoil Hank, but I’m already into my overdraft, and I can’t afford to buy anything other than food right now. Hank and I have never taken Valentine’s Day all that seriously, and we’ve never really celebrated it before, apart from buying each other cards sometimes. One the one hand, I have to admit that a day dedicated to love and romance is a nice idea. On the other hand (brace yourself for a huge cliche), Valentine’s Day is so commericalised, and the original romantic notion behind it has been twisted so the day is all about spending money on your loved one. Buy him/her a card that probably costs 1/10th of the price to make and will be thrown away days later, an overpriced M&S ready meal, a bunch of cut flowers that will die in a week, one of those lame “love” compilation CDs from HMV. It’s as if your love for someone can be measured in money, and that makes me feel uncomfortable. I think it makes Hank feel uncomfortable too. We’ve never exactly been wealthy, so I guess we never bought into Valentine’s Day because we don’t need overpriced cards to show how much we love each other. We usually just do something romantic, like go for a walk on the beach, or bake cupcakes together. I really wanted to bake him some cookies this year and post them to him, but it wasn’t possible because he has the world’s smallest postbox, and he would have to go into the Sorting Office in Leeds city centre to pick up my package. I think that would cause him far too much stress to be considered a romantic gesture.
Normally I would be able to ignore the Valentine’s stuff and remember all this about love being free, but this year the Valentine’s mood felt more pervasive than before. For the first time ever, I felt quite pathetic for not buying Hank anything. I felt like a bad girlfriend, like we weren’t a proper couple for buying each other anything. I know rationally that it’s not true, but I can’t help feeling a bit sad about it all. I am trying to remain positive though, and I keep telling myself that it’ll all be over in 12 hours…
What Else I Did This Week:
I signed up to a workshop on overcoming procrastination – I have to keep a log of what tasks I complete for the next week. I hope I learn something useful! I also started my first piece of coursework on the 1950s domestic housewife, wrote a letter to a fellow zinester, and made a mini-zine to advertise Nottingham’s production of The Vagina Monologues. Keep an eye out for copies around campus.