How did a week manage to pass by without publishing a blog? You would think that with lockdown I would have nothing better to do than write and photograph. Nothing could be further from the truth at the moment, as I find myself back in a vicious circle of trying to keep my head above water. Do you know that feeling of being caught between an implosion and an explosion? I do, and all too well, which is not something to be proud of, but surviving it and living to tell the tale afterwards is definitely something to write home about.
Let’s backtrack bit shall we? It was my conscious intention not to write a Valentine blog, simply because I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day anymore. I have lost my faith in it and the commercialism has rubbed off all the charm. Nevertheless, I did dig deep into my soul archives and revived the feelings of my childhood, where February 14th was indeed a celebration of love, but not exclusive to couples.
I have no clue how my parents came to be staunch supporters of Valentine’s Day but I suppose it has its roots in the fact that both of them spent a couple of years in the USA (Daddy in California and Mommy in Philadelphia) and got inculturated. So when it came to raising me, the concept of Valentine’s was a deeply rooted family affair, where we did things for one another.
I remember panicking one year because Valentine’s crept up on me and I hadn’t prepared any gifts for my parents. So I wrapped a pair of clean socks for Daddy, and found a brooch among Mommy’s trinkets to wrap for her. I must have been six at the time, and it meant the world to me to have something for them, because I knew they would have something prepared for me. The tradition continued over the years and strangely enough on Feb. 14th this year I stumbled on an old email of Daddy written on Valentine’s Day 2015, where he thanked for me for the food I sent them (ah the wonders of internet shopping) and the lovely time he and Mommy had on their home date.
The other side to Valentine’s Day that I grew up with was the concept of February 14th being Friendship Day. I looked forward to giving flowers to friends, so I was absolutely thrilled when I received a gorgeous virtual bouquet of red roses on the eve of Valentine’s. It was an affectionate, thoughtful but also empowering bouquet that reminded me that I will always be worth more than someone else’s ego. Thank you for the bottom of my heart.
If I had to gripe about things, I could say I was empty-handed this Valentine’s but that isn’t true. I actually had one of the most enjoyable and amusing Valentine’s Day in a long time, and none of it had to do with a partner. Let’s start with the two drunken messages I received. One on the morning of February 13th, from a family member I care very much about but had clearly dipped into the rum already. The message, I was informed, was sent early as a precautionary measure in case the rum rendered him incapacitated the next day. What can I say, family love is always thicker than rum!
The second Hemingway-like message was from another rum diver who was far more advanced than the second one. I received the GIF intended for the wife, flashy hearts and all! Upon realising the gravity of the error, the message was immediately unsent, but not before I had a good laugh (once my eyebrows managed to come down again).
Then there was soul-charging weekly Zoom call with my soul sisters. It being Chinese New Year as well, we agreed to all show up in the money-attracting green! Nothing shouts out celebration of love more than a sense of humour and togetherness after 34 years of enduring, supportive, unconditional friendship.
The best part of Valentine’s Day 2021 however, was the Zoom call with my cousins and aunt. This was the second heroic effort of coordinating four time zones (Australia, USA, Canada and Germany), but oh it was so worth it! After years of feeling alone and isolated here in Europe, so far away from the rest of the family, that wonderful sense of belonging has returned to my life. I never realised how much I had missed them all until these calls started. We have aged, gracefully I must add, and life has given us all our crosses to bear, but oh what a wonderful group of empowered women came on that screen on Valentine’s Day/ Eve (depending on the time zone)! What a spectacular reminder that I hail from a family of fighters and survivors, of confident people who won’t take life sitting down. This particular group of cousins has not been physically in the same room for the past 30-odd years, but I believe the universe had a reason for reuniting us at this particular point in time.
Family, whether blood-bound or chosen, was my cause for celebration this year. Bizarre as it may sound, I have the pandemic to thank for that because without it, none of us would have ever bothered to Zoom!