Molly Fisk: Be Mine

In the past ten years, Women’s Voices has posted scores of stories about romantic love—adolescent love, fraught love, long-lasting love, love betrayed. For our Valentine’s Day coverage this year, we cast a wider net: We looked for stories about love in the broadest sense of the word—romantic love, sibling love, love for one’s community, love for a friend, the love between parent and child . . . To wrap up our series this week, here’s the seventh story in the Valentine’s Day series we’re calling LOVE IN ALL CONTEXTS. —Ed.


Mid-February is not the most cheerful time of year. Usually the sky is grey and dumping torrents of water on our heads or inch after cold, white, accumulating inch of snow. The light is still pale and the ground is hard. Around here, people squint because there’s so much wood smoke in the air.

There’s nothing much to look forward to, either, because after February comes March, and no one has ever liked March. The only bright spot — kind of a reddish, pinkish spot, with a paper lace doily around it — is Valentine’s Day. This is a mixed blessing, I grant you, having been named for a Roman priest beheaded in the year 270 (who is now the patron Saint of both affianced couples and the plague) and focusing so heavy-handedly on romantic, two-person, heterosexual love.

I’ve often been single on Valentine’s Day, and had to fight for my dignity. Even though it feels like a frivolous holiday invented to sell chocolate and long-stemmed roses or revive the greeting card industry, the power of Valentine’s Day to make even progressive, well-adjusted single people feel horrible is amazing. But despite the global advertising machine, the U.S. banking system, and almost all political activity anywhere, love, not commerce, is what makes the world go round. So I always vote for celebrating it, and for resisting the culture’s idiocy at the same time. The way to do this is to not limit our appreciation to lovey-dovey love. Widen the scope, as one of my ex-boyfriends liked to say, from the constraints of Disney-ized romantic love to include every sort of love.

It doesn’t  mean you don’t have to cut a heart out of construction paper: just whisper “I love you” to siblings and cockatiels, children, turtles, ex-wives you resent, parents with dementia, strangers suffering in natural disasters, colleagues who talk too much and take credit for your work. Make every February 14th in the future the day you spill out love to grocery store clerks, the museum’s coat-check girl, the assistant fire chief, and the short-order cook. Close your eyes and beam some love even to the people you normally hate.

Because the scents of chocolate and roses are strong aphrodisiacs, and Valentine’s Day is also about sex, send a little love to everyone you’ve ever slept with, even that guy on the train in Norway who was so upset at the conductor when you got caught. Celebrate what your sweet bodies did together.

While you’re at it, send some praise “down there” for heaven’s sake! The culture misuses sexual innuendo all year long to sell us cars and appliances. For one day, let’s be real and thank our vulvas and scrota for inspiring so much ink, as well as bringing us pleasure and heartache. Give your nerve endings, your lower lip, and your eye-lashes love for doing a good job. And, praise the insides of your wrists and the gorgeous soles of your feet.

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