tacked to the bulletin board on my desk is last year's valentine from my dad. i'm looking at it right now. he wrote, "i am proud of your guts to go after your dreams." i'm proud of my guts, too. but how could my dad feel that way, when i'm so far from the daughter a man like him should've had. of clarksburg's 16,000-odd residents, i am certain my father is the most punctual and pragmatic and cautious. i am none of those. i've done just about everything ass backwards and caused myself—and him—a truckload of trouble. the craziest thing is, he has never once said he's disappointed in me. not once. what a guy, that guy.
i haven't had a valentine's date for 8 years. unless you count a few years ago when the alcoholic mess of a guy i was wasting time with texted me around 8 pm, "whatcha doin, dani?"...and proceeded to goad me into meeting him. at a bar. in cordova. on valentine's day. to play trivia and watch him get wasted. had he thrown in a basket of fried cheesesticks i would've felt on-top-of-the-world special, but, you know, he didn't want to blow his wad in one shot. he had more special surprises saved for later...like being smug all night and getting so wasted that i had to drive us back to his house, where he promptly passed out without giving me so much as a hug. laying next to a sloppy, sweaty, 6-foot-2 pile of half-dressed skin was the final punctuation mark to my valentine's day. so yeah, i don't count it as a date. i also resent his theft of "dani," the nickname very few and precious people call me. he was neither rare nor precious. what was i doing with him anyway? my friend tried to reel me in, "dee, c'mon. you're dating a guy with 80s hair." it was true. long on top, short in the back. it could've only been worse had he worn hypercolor tshirts. i do love a challenge, and i guess somehow i interpreted making a relationship work with the toolest of toolbags as a new kind of challenge. turns out, bad 80s hair is a bad sign. lesson learned.
at times my dad's valentines have bummed me out, as if he had to make up for the inconsiderate man i was dating, or the fact that i was dating no man at all. thankfully i am always quick to remind myself that's the wrong way to look at it. he sends them bc he loves me, not bc some dude doesn't. and although i tend to scowl a little when v-day comes around, for the most part—the most important part— i'm very glad i've spent most of mine by myself or with friends. if i hadn't, i would've been someone's girlfriend. someone who would've held me back. that's what happens when you're young and serious about love... or even when you're not so young but have goals that still preclude settling down. this upcoming valentine's day + the way young girls are so quick to grow up these days (damn i'm getting old, aren't i)...it got me thinking. i wish more young girls would give themselves a chance to explore life before settling down, or worse, being forced to settle down bc they've become a parent before they're done being a kid.
i've had an extended childhood, of sorts... the luxury of uprooting myself on a whim, of being irresponsible and impractical. freedom catches up to you, though, if you abuse it for too long. now i think of how cool it would be to stay in one place. sorta. my wanderlust will never disappear, but i'm fairly certain it could be quelled in the long term by day trips or weekends to wv. this year i'd like to spend valentine's day in the company of others, be it a date with a man or with friends. however, even better would be good news about my career. it would make me a much more pleasant date. you hear that, cupid? get to work.