In the right frame of mind everything you do is a love letter. Cooking a meal. Lighting a candle. Turning off your phone for a night in with a book. Stopping at a street corner that you’ve passed countless times, but only now had the thought to pause and read the plaque for yourself. The shaky feeling in your muscles after a workout. The taste of salt on your lips after diving into the sea. The smell of your mother’s perfume lingering on your coat after hugging her goodbye. Flowers, fresh or dried. An inside joke with your best friend. The final piece of the puzzle. Turning the first page of a new book. Romancing yourself is about taking the extra appreciation of the things in life that make each day special.
Self love isn’t all facemasks and bubble baths. It can be hard. Establishing boundaries. Learning how to communicate. Enforcing a budget. Cleaning your house from top to bottom. Closing your work laptop because truly if someone needs to get in touch they can call you otherwise it can wait until Monday. Leaving a bad job. Advocating for yourself in a good job. Therapy. Self love is also the quiet, difficult action of staring the universe in the face and knowing that though you are never alone, you are the only person responsible for your life.
In this time when we’ve had to use our imagination and make up new things to look forward to many people have been drawn to the outpouring of love and romance of Valentine’s Day. Even those who don’t usually favor Hallmark Holidays have been getting in the spirit. Even more popular is the platonic twin, Galentine’s (February 13th, or really whenever you want in February). Introduced into pop culture by Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope, who hosted a waffles brunch for her best friends. It’s now a tradition, getting together for a rom com night or dinner party or, these days, sending your friends coffees or flowers. One of my best friends and I used to joke, whenever we went to a lovely restaurant, that we were giving each other the romantic date night we both deserved. It was a joke but I think in many ways it rings true.
The Atlantic shared an article earlier this year titled, What if Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? In it, Rhaina Cohen talks about how centuries ago, devoted platonic friendships were the norm, and in doing so did not put the pressure of all of one’s emotional needs onto one person. It’s funny, we accept the idea of ‘it takes a village’ but we lose sight of the importance of fulfillment in friendship and community as soon as romance enters the picture. One of the strange silver linings I’ve found in the past year is that without all of the distraction and cult of busyness, I’ve felt more focused on the things that matter. Friendship. My roommates. Video calls with friends in other cities, states and countries. Walking through the city with friends in DC, eye crinkles and smiles under our masks.
All of this combined is why I took Wednesday evening to do a cheese board and wine set up. Even with a miniature baked brie explosion in the oven, there’s something about arranging it all together that made me so happy. Champagne picnic on the living room floor, candlesticks and flowers, and sharing it all with my roommates. My coziest pink sweater, signature red lipstick and block sandals that make the most delicious click against wooden floors. For me February is about those things, those thousand little love stories that keep us going.