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Love, Ames: Maybe Valentine’s Day does celebrate love after all

Last year, I wrote an article for the Miami Student about how I did not like celebrating Valentine’s Day because of the capitalistic expectations that come along with the holiday. It was the first in the "Love, Ames" series.

Entitled "Love, Ames: On Valentine’s Day, open your heart, not your wallet," it was a representation of the dislike I have grown to have for Valentine’s Day over the past few years. After all, it has become my belief that people should celebrate their loved ones all the time, not just on one day out of the year because of social expectations.

One year later, this is still my belief. But much like everything else in the last year, Valentine’s Day was not quite the same.

Most of the activities that I recommended last year for a Valentine’s Day celebration — if one must celebrate — are really no longer as easy as they once were. Going out on dates is difficult; many restaurants or shops are either closed or have limited capacity. Unless you live in the same house or are in the same bubble, cooking a meal together is probably out. Love letters are still doable, but that doesn’t mean anything will feel like it has in years past.

A lot of people will likely have opted for easier, albeit costly, options — usually ones that involve ordering something online. The $200 giant teddy bear and the 24-ounce box of Russell Stover chocolates from last year’s article come to mind. And, naturally, a “classic rose royale” arrangement from Oxford Flower Shop costs even more than it did last year, a stunning $115.

Of course, last year the Flower Shop didn’t deliver anywhere except workplaces. Now, with so many people working from home, they seem to have changed that policy. So some things have evolved for the better.

For me personally, though, this Valentine’s Day wasn’t just different because of the impossibility of subverting a Western subculture of capitalism and spending money. It was also different because I couldn’t even spend time with my partner.

He and the rest of his housemates are currently under quarantine after one of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Last year, I at least got to make an effort to spend time with my partner. I had written him a small stack of letters for him to open at different times — when he was sad, when he was overworked, when he was having a good day, etc. — and that was my gift to him. We attended the annual “I Love You Beary Much” event put on by MAP in Armstrong together and made bears for each other. 

The stuffed animal he made for me, a brown bear with a Sharpied t-shirt that reads “U R a BEAR essential,” still sits on my bed today. His name is Bear-uno Mars. For fans of “The Good Place,” the bear that I made for my partner is named Jeremy Bearimy.

The event was fun, silly and creative — so much so that we made plans to do it again this year.

Unfortunately, with my partner being placed under quarantine early last week, the plans fell through. I attended MAP’s annual “I Love You Beary Much” event last Friday by myself instead. I picked up a lamb for myself and a moose for my partner, both of which have yet to be named. 

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(If anyone has any name ideas, feel free to email me.)

We stuffed them together over FaceTime on Valentine’s Day instead. We were both busy studying for exams, though, so we didn’t spend too long on the call. It felt like just another rushed quarantine holiday, like the long-distance Christmases, anniversaries and birthdays we’ve celebrated together over the past year and a half.

However, it was time that I got to spend with him, even if it was a video call. So I enjoyed every minute of it.

My partner thought it was amusing that I gave in to the aggressively rapacious business that Valentine’s Day is becoming. After all, I delivered his moose to him (socially distanced and double-masked, of course) in a little red bag, accompanied by flowers, some other gifts and his favorite candy. 

It was very stereotypical, and everything I’ve always hated about Valentine’s Day.

But sometimes, in today’s day and age, stereotypes are the only thing we’ve got left of normal celebrations. 

So, for once, I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. (Well, I hate the idea that I didn’t get to see my partner in person, but that’s a whole different reason.) Instead, I’m almost grateful to it, for showing me that maybe there’s another side of the big-bucks holiday. Maybe it does celebrate love after all.

Love, Ames