It’s no secret to anyone that’s known me for an extended amount of time that I… hate is a strong word. I try not to use it that often. But decry? Decry is a good one. Okay. Let me start again.
It’s no secret to anyone that’s known me for an extended amount of time that I decry Valentine’s Day. Once upon a time…
Because all good, and some bad stories begin as such…
There was this guy. He was an ancient ancestor of your buddy the Madchronicler and by “ancient,” I mean 25 or so years ago. He called himself El Autoro and he was known around the Penn State, Abington-Ogontz Campus (known then as “Oz” or, later, “Ab-Oz”) as an outspoken opponent of… well? Anything, really. He was known for anonymously critiquing everything from the Club Room there to… yes! You guessed it: Valentine’s Day. He used to post and circulate his musings and, at times, ramblings around campus for everyone to see. He gained a bit of a rep for it. About as close to “fame” as he ever got. These writings? They were called “Mental Flatulence” and they, too, were the ancestors of another form of writing. Specifically, THIS. Blog writing. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, El Autoro? He left Oz/Ab-Oz and went to State College, otherwise known as “State Pen” and became known from that moment forth as… yep. You guessed it. The Madchronicler. El Autoro was me and I was he. I guess in a way I still am. I think I’ve said this before now and it bears repeating: You are your past. Good and bad. Just don’t let your past govern your present. So yes: I am he. And I always will be to some extent. And he? He hated Valentine’s Day. And by association? So do I.
He/I called it and still call it “V-D Day.” I am confident that I don’t need to elaborate on the reference any further and that you “get it.” V-D Day: Nothing more than a fake holiday, created and nurtured by our society as a means to increase retail sales during historically the slowest time of the year, i.e. the Dead of Winter. Post-New Year’s and pre-Saint Patrick’s Day. When the sky is, almost daily, gray and disgusting, the temperature never gets above 40 and you are constantly plagued by a threat of either snow, sleet, freezing rain, Alberta Clippers and/or Nor’easters. Often times at the same time (like today; since I woke up this morning and started my trek into work, I’ve seen snow, freezing rain, sleet and now? Plain old rain, all courtesy of an Alberta Clipper that is merging with and becoming a Nor’easter). Even being in a committed relationship from 2001 until recently didn’t temper my disdain of V-D Day. Thankfully, my now-ex wasn’t a fan either so we rarely celebrated it.
But? But. Here I am, on the other side of a break-up in February of 2019. T-Minus two days until the 14th and I find myself wondering… pondering. I’m attempting to embrace this new life of mine as a single dad and with it? A number of changes. Should I also allow myself to… not necessarily embrace but entertain the thought of… SHIVER… celebrating Valentine’s Day again? I wasn’t always driving the Valentine’s Day Bitter Bus. There was a time, many, MANY moons before this where I did. Back in the mid-90s, I actually enjoyed one of the best nights of my life on February 14th. I won’t go into the specifics of it herein. It’s another story, for another time but again, those that know me now and have known me since those wayward days of my late teens/early 20s know EXACTLY what I’m referring to. Needless to say, the change… this well-documented change in my mentality happened shortly thereafter. Maybe it was a product of that night. To achieve perfection on so many levels and basically have the moment you’ve waited for for years ripped away via your own naivety? It’s a tough pill to swallow. Made worse by the fact that that particular pill hung around for a while, lodged in my throat until time and experience dissolved it and it oozed slowly down and into my stomach, never to be seen or heard from again. It’s a memory and to some extent? It remains. But memories, I’ve realized, are like snapshots in a Viewmaster, or a fading, yellowing Polaroid that sits in a cookie tin, full of pictures in the basement of your new home. There when you need inspiration, but no longer fluid. Passed. The Past. Gone, but never forgotten.
The good news? I don’t have to worry about it this year. Unless something changes drastically between now and Thursday I’ll be spending Valentine’s Day as I’ve spent almost every other V-D Day for the last 25 odd (and yes, they have been odd) years: Working. And hanging out at home in the evening. In all honestly? I’m perfectly fine with that. These last six or so, even odder months have been, at times, daunting. Change is inevitable but does it have to be so… Damn… Exhausting? Survey says? No clue. Maybe. I guess it all depends upon the person and how said person adjusts. I feel that I’ve adjusted as well as I can to my new life. Frank Version 3.0 as my friend Matt calls it (booyakasha, sir. Respect) is, I think, a better me than the me I was for many, MANY years. My focus is where it needs to be: Squarely on my kids and my responsibilities to them and to myself. And while there is a little part of me that’s starting to wish for… bless me Father… companionship? It’s not an overwhelming need at this time. I am, after all, a hopeful romantic at my core and always will be and it’s been… some time since I felt that closeness with someone that I had that night, back in the mid-90s or over the first 10 or so years of my marriage. But the difference between Frank then and Frank now echoes the difference between El Autoro and The Madchronicler. Back then, I and my alter-ego were driven by our need to feel closeness with someone. We were driven, oft times mad by our desire to “be with” someone. Have a relationship. Hold hands, et cetera, et cetera. Now? Now it’s not the thing that drives me, AKA The Madchronicler, AKA the guy who writes these rambling pieces of electronic, Mental Flatulence. We… I have love in my heart for my minions. For my family and friends. For writing and staffing, binge-watching and taking long, thought-filled walks which will hopefully evolve into runs in the near future assuming the temperature here in Southeastern Pennsylvania tops 40 degrees in the near future (early Spring my a**, Phil; someone should take you out behind the woodshed and turn you into a hat). For talking to people I haven’t spoken with in a while, redeveloping friendships that sadly didn’t receive enough attention over the years and should have. For just… being. Existing. Letting life come to me. You know the litany at this point, folks. No need for me to repeat it.
I will explicitly state this one caveat, though: I don’t want to be alone forever. There. It’s said. I can wait… I will wait for the right person to come along. Even if I have to wait a handful of years before then I will. I can deal. But there’s really something to be said for having a companion on the journey of life. Whether it’s a companion for just one night, as it was that night many, MANY moons before this when El Autoro still lived in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and no one lived any place else, or a constant one as it was from the early 2000s through recently, we as human beings need that. Not it, and by “it” I’m referring to the thing that gave V-D Day it’s name that I refused to reference earlier in this composition and will not reference here (sorry). That’s actually not that important. Seriously. I know, I’m shocked to hear myself saying it, as well. But sharing your life with someone? Walking the oft times rutted throughways of the universe on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, hand-in-hand with another soul? THAT’s pretty important. Mucho importante, as El Autoro would have said. I know that now. So I’m cool with my downtime, at present. But I’ve got a big f*cking heart and eventually, I’m going to offer it to another person. And this time? It’s going to be the right one. No do-overs now. I’m 43 years old going on 44. Everyone tells me I’m young but in truth? I’m at least half way through my life (if the current life expectancy of a still overweight casual smoker is to be believed) at this point. The first part? It was quite a ride. Filled with nights like that one back in the mid-90s and that one back in November of 2001 when I kissed my then-wife-to-be for the first time. Filled with mornings like the ones on which I held my minions, slimy and squirming for the first time. But further filled with nights like the one when my now ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce and I finally agreed. Or the day I had to leave work and rush home because my youngest broke her arm at school. Heart-filling and stomach-turning… that’s life, kids and kiddos. Anyone that tells you differently is lying to you. Don’t believe them. Or? Don’t believe me and continue about your business. I won’t hold it against you either way. But HEED ME, guys and gals: I know what I’m talking about. As we used to say back in the day, “been there, done that and own the t-shirt.”
And that’s it! Friends, family and sometimes casual readers: I’m done. Resolved: El Autoro, AKA The Madchronicler, AKA Frank Marsh will, from this moment forth, NOT spend his every, waking breath between New Year’s and February 14th talking or writing about how much he hates V-D Day. Instead, he’ll resolve… he resolves to at least give it a shot moving forward. What can it hurt? To paraphrase my earlier statement: Though the past is a part of who we are today, our present and more importantly, our future shouldn’t be dictated by it. That’s called dwelling, not letting life come to you. And I’m not a fan of the former anymore. The latter though? I kind of dig it. In case you couldn’t tell, sarcasm 100% intended.
So to all of you reading this and some of you that aren’t, may your Capitalistic Feus-Holiday be filled with overpriced chocolates, cards, kisses, “it” if that’s your thing, dinners that you can’t afford and one or two big Hershey Kisses ‘cause really? What says love more than a big a** Hershey Kiss that you got on markdown at your local CVStress. Vermont Teddy Bears, too. They’ve got a zombie one this year. Its wearing a shirt that says “I HEART BRAINS YOU,” and holding a heart, in the shape of an actual heart (thank God for that, at least) that says “I give you my heart.” If I had a companion this year?
Yeah. Nope. I think I’d opt for flowers over that. Roses, of course. ‘Cause nothing says “love” like giving someone a bunch of plants, cut off from their live-giving source that will die within a few days, right?
I guess I still have a ways to go. So I’ll just say Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s a start. Enjoy, everyone. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.