“Why are you wearing black on Valentine’s Day?”
I’ve been asked this question at least once each year since 1994. So let me explain.
Twenty years ago, I was living in Rohnert Park, California, with three amazing women. I had only known them for a few weeks, but they had already become my family. Once they introduced me to many of their friends, my family grew. On this particular night, Valentine’s Day, we held a party at our apartment. I was single and slightly cynical and I think just pissed off that I was alone. So to protest the commercialism and the ridiculousness of the holiday, I wore black….
….and a tradition was born.
Although I’m married now and have a son I like to buy or make valentines for, I still find the holiday pretty silly. I continue to wear black on February 14th, but it’s not necessarily in protest anymore. I don’t think I really care about the holiday one way or another, but now I wear black in honor of the friends I made 20 years ago and everything they taught me.
I learned how to show affection from them. Being from New England, this was a new concept for me. I don’t think I ever hugged any of my friends back home unless someone died or moved away. We just didn’t do that. Yet here was a group of people who didn’t think twice about hugging me or kissing my cheek or even just sitting close to me (or on my lap).
They showed me how to love, how to take risks, how to have fun.
This group of women and men took me in and made me a part of their lives. They opened up their world to me. They wanted to show me where they lived and what they loved to do and introduce me to new ideas, new music, new literature, and new experiences.
They made me feel like I belonged. I had never really felt that before. I thought I had, but it never felt like this. I felt not only accepted but wanted.
My friends showed me what there was to love about life. I don’t think I ever knew before I met them. I continue to feel grateful for ever having the chance to learn from them and to love them.
Thank you, Becky, Jo, Lea, Gary, Moriah, Sean, Memo, Matt, Yvette, Ron, and Lou. You made, and continue to make my life better.