A Virtual Valentine’s Day

            In the past, I’ve written a few times about my, mostly, misadventures on Valentine’s Day. We could even title them like Friends episodes: The One Where I Love Myself, The One Where I Fell, The One with the Best Friend. Last year, pre-lockdown, I had the great pleasure of going out to dinner and bar-hopping with other single girls in my cohort. It was honestly a great time and the micheladas were pretty plentiful. That said, I initially didn’t have any expectations for 2021 because I’m still isolated from the world at large. If anything, my plans as of a few months ago would have been hanging out with my family or drinking and watching rom-coms with my cats. I was lucky enough, though, to find myself a virtual valentine.

            I’ve been seeing Soleil, who I’ve mentioned in a few previous blogs, since October. We matched on Tinder in September and virtual is the only real option we have because I’m in the States and he’s in Australia. So, yes, Tinder Passport did get me an actual date. By accident, I took part in that new age tradition of cuffing season since we did celebrate all of the winter holidays and both of our birthdays together. It’s been a lot of fun. So I wasn’t too worried about Valentine’s Day because a) there’s actually less pressure when you know it’s going to be virtual and b) this would be our third time exchanging gifts via holiday so we’re not the worst at it by now.

            The benefit, of course, on dating someone with a time difference is you basically get two holidays since he is 18 hours ahead of me. So we wished each other a Happy Valentine’s Day on what was his actual holiday and what was my Saturday the 13th. Then, because we both did multi-part gifts, we shared the first part then. We both made each other Spotify playlists, although they’re differently tonally. His was the third part in an ongoing series of mix tapes made for me, and mine was a cinematic-based soundtrack with songs from various rom-coms and romances (because we both love movies). Since I’ve become more of a night owl nowadays, I was able to listen to his playlist as my Valentine’s Day officially started. It made me cry four times and I’m sure more than a few songs will appear on my WILT list for February. I really like that, despite the distance, Soleil and I can easily share music with each other and music can be so powerful.

            Most of actual Valentine’s Day was spent treating myself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while being single it’s that self-care is important every day but, some days, you just have to be a bit extra. So I made shrimp and grits and watched Saturday Night Live, relaxed with TikToks, and chatted with my mom. I took extra time in my shower routine: exfoliating, shaving, and using a new body wash. And I used body butter and a hydrating face mask because my skin has been a bit dry lately and it needs love too. I did dishes and cleaned a bit because I’m trying to be better about that. Then I made dinner while listening to Soleil’s playlist: grilled goat cheese with red pepper flakes, honey, green onions, and a bit of mustard, with tomato soup and a glass of my favorite wine. I watched the newest episode of Attack on Titan while eating, and then got ready for my date.

            I still treat my virtual dates like actual ones—makeup, occasionally dressing up, and the whole prep routine—because it helps things “feel” different. Since I don’t really leave my apartment, having a pre-date ritual shifts the atmosphere from work or hanging out to something closer to fun or romantic. So I lit candles and poured myself another glass of wine, made sure the Zoom was ready to go, and then the Valentine’s date began. And it was wonderful. Really wonderful.

            We talked about the playlists and music, our days, and opened the physical presents without too much waiting. His present for me had been taunting me for nearly a month, whereas mine had arrived the day of. We opened our cards to each other, both sent via Moonpig, and read aloud what we’d written because we tend to forget by the time it gets there. He bought me a new Squishmallow—Fifi the Fox, Valentine’s edition—because he knows I’ve been collecting them and foxes are somewhat of an inside joke between us. I bought him the first volumes of Saga and Y: The Last Man, because I recommend one and the other I thought we could read together. So, overall, another gift-gifting holiday success.

            The rest of the date was spent chatting, complimenting each other, learning new things, and having fun. It’s not that unusual from all of our other dates but it felt just a little more special. Maybe because it’s been awhile since I’ve associated Valentine’s with actual romance or returned gestures. Maybe because this pandemic has made moments of connection between people more important to me. Or maybe it’s just because I enjoy spending time with Soleil, whether it’s an important holiday or just an average Tuesday.

            Regardless, I’m sure I’ll remember 2021 as The One with the Virtual Date. I’m thankful that every year so far has only given me better memories to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my friends, family, and now Soleil. I know that Valentine’s Day isn’t an important day in the scheme of things but I’ve spent more than a few with lackluster motions or pity parties and I’m done with that life. I like to celebrate the little things—be a Romantic—whether that be with myself, my friends, or with a date. After all, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Read More of My Past Valentine’s Misadventures Below: