What is it about the fourteenth of February that makes single people feel like total losers? Being a creature of habit, I thought about past Valentine’s Days. For some strange reason, I’ve written some of my best stories around that time. Two years ago, I joined this group called pedxing and for our February meeting (Lipad, Puso, Lipad), I wrote a story called Don’t Wear Those Shoes Out When It’s Raining. I was reading it this morning when I saw how different my concept of love has become.
Don’t Wear Those Shoes Out When It’s Raining [2.25.07]
Today, I looked at my shoe and I realized the sole was broken. I’ve been ignoring it these past few days but deep inside I knew something was wrong. It’s not how my foot should feel. I wasn’t meant to touch the ground with my sock. I traced the hole with my finger, checking the damage, recreating the scene with images in my mind when the rubber finally gave in to the floor. Maybe there is a heaven where shoes go to rest. Sadly though, this pair isn’t going anywhere but the shoe repair store.
Three weeks ago, I knew exactly how it felt. “If we were really meant to be together then I’m sure nothing will change in a couple of years” he wrote on a Post-it stuck on my door. When I went in, all of his things were gone- the records, the books, everything that vaguely resembled him. But I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Deep down I knew it was bound to happen. I’m not exactly that naïve to ignore the signals he sent out when we were still together.
Who was it that once said that everyone has a wound to mend or a void to fill? As time went by, I’ve seen all the faces of love- some remotely forgettable, others harshly unforgivable. And these faces blur in front of me like a speeding train. I felt my feeble hands holding on to each one and wondering if this was the one who could heal that innate wound.
With Coltrane in the background, I started wondering what it was that that Post-it meant. I can imagine that he somehow believed in a force that exists in the world which binds two people together in the end, no matter what. And when the cosmos finally arranges for the two to meet, birds will sing, sonnets will be sung, and the clouds, well, they do whatever it is clouds do when it’s a wonderful day. And maybe, just maybe, a Band-aid begins to close the wound in their proverbial hearts.
But after spending time and effort to see the faces of love, I could feel my wound only growing deeper, wider and with each tear, I felt more and more of my flesh being exposed. This brought about a confusion of sorts for if finding the one could fill that void, how come it only grows deeper and darker with each person I let in?
As I walk up to the busy shop with my broken shoe, I see that many people have broken shoes and broken hearts- each one of us trying desperately to fill that void, to patch up that wound, haplessly like a chicken attempting flight. How easy it would be to just turn my back on everything! To leave the image of the speeding train behind and with any luck reclaim the peace that I felt was stolen from me.
I watch as the craftsman gently takes the old sole from my shoe. It’s time to let the past go.
I see him selecting which sole will fit perfectly. Maybe I should be more careful who I let into my life.
As he puts the shoe and the new sole together, a bead of sweat drops to the floor. When the right one comes, I’ll work hard to keep him there.
He wipes the debris off the side of the shoe and after careful inspection declares his job is done. When I’m whole again, my heart can fly.
He wraps the shoe in a plastic bag and after setting my account, hands them to me. With a smile, he said “It’s a good thing it isn’t raining. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a broken sole and a wet foot.”
I smiled back and said “If only you knew.” If only he knew.
Lisa Loeb defines falling in love as “the time between meeting and finally leaving” and as a child, I didn’t think her definition fit the images of love I saw on TV. When I wrote this story, I thought of love as something that passed me by. All around me, everyone was hooking up and in fevered moments of self-pity, I felt like I was the last single person in the world. I used to always say that it didn’t bother me but in the quiet of my room, I knew that I wanted to be in love just as much as the next person.
Two years later, I feel like I know a little more about the topic. There have been a couple of hits and misses but over-all I think my concept of love has evolved into a more mature level of understanding. I no longer define love as two people coming together. Sometimes, it can be four. Right now, I see it in some people who have become my closest friends. I have a lot of people I can open up to but not in the level of comfort that I feel with them. We talk about the silliest things and we know each other’s deepest darkest secrets. I’ve shown them my demons (and they’ve shown me theirs) and yet they’re still there. Over coffee, we have found a love that’s so unique I didn’t think I’d experience it. At a time when it seems like the whole world has turned their back on single people, they are the safety net that I rest my head on.
“When the right one comes, I’ll work hard to keep him there.” There have been times when we don’t always see eye to eye but the things that should keep us apart are what bring us together. I know I don’t have to work too hard to keep them there but it doesn’t hurt to let them know how much I appreciate their company. So this Valentine’s, instead of feeling like a total singleton, I’m sending out three valentines to my dear, dear friends. In any other world, we’d probably hate each other and that’s why I’m glad we belong to this one.