Every year on Feb. 14, people demand avowals of affection, and unwritten rules have long been followed by partners from all walks of life. The day must be a day of love, or so they say. Long messages stating how much a person is important must be sent. Flowers and chocolates must be bought and given. Special clothes must be worn. A walk in a park or a visit to a museum or a mall must follow. Dinner must be set—a reservation for two must be scheduled. A movie about love must be seen.
And at the end of these activities, a vivid description of how great the day was must be posted on social media. Postprocessed photos must be shared. Captions, of course, must include a borrowed line from a famous poet or writer who talks of love all the time.
Valentine’s Day is special: This is how people see it, or at least how they try. It is magical in a sense that it floods the town with flowers we often only see in high-end shops—roses, tulips, sunflowers, stargazers. It turns on the sweet side of everyone, and we’re not even talking about the tons of chocolates given and consumed on that day.
It shows the better version of persons: See how they hold hands while walking, leaning a head on the other’s shoulder, or offering a sweet-smelling jacket to keep the cold breeze of February away from their lovely moment.
On that day, we banner our personal definitions of love.
But amid the expectations and routine “what to do’s” during the day, there is an unwritten portion of a story that is kept away from the feeds of those with whom you are friends. The virtual diary that is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram still isn’t enough for one to fully describe a moment that could contest the tales our writers make us read.
It hasn’t been enough—at least on my part.
It wasn’t enough to describe the anxiety I felt while composing an invitation to watch a movie with a colleague. I wanted to put the hype around “That Thing Called Tadhana” to the test, and I wanted to experience it with someone special. All the words and reasons that raced through my head were such a mess that I even stuttered while asking her. She was caught off-guard—or at least that was what I thought. She asked who else would be joining the movie experience, and I said it would just be the two of us. She laughed, then said no. So I asked the other members of our school publication to watch the movie with us. “Asked” was too mild a word, to be honest. They agreed. And she said yes.
It wasn’t enough to describe the joy I felt the moment I first got published in a newspaper of general circulation. The reason behind it is not the byline but the narrative that the article presented—my love story with a cowriter who agreed to watch “That Thing Called Tadhana” with me two years ago. The happiness that danced with songs of bliss and sunshine weren’t able to fit in the vast virtual journal of feeds. The excitement to buy two copies of the newspaper (one as a personal copy and the other as a gift) at the nearest convenience cannot be described by all the superlatives in whatever dictionary. The feeling of seeing her happy, excited to reread the whole article again and again, was such a perfect moment that the rewind button would eventually fail from overuse.
It wasn’t enough to show how my eyes shone brighter than a supernova the moment she held my hand and clasped my fingers like pillows in the evening for the very first time. It wasn’t enough to contain that big smile of hers the time I cracked a corny joke while we were eating at a restaurant for a “special day.” It wasn’t enough to describe how happy I was when she finally agreed to have a photo taken beside VP candidate Leni Robredo’s campaign poster. Of course, it wasn’t enough to comprehend the distraught look on her face every time I insisted that she looked like the younger version of the VP. Still, no regrets.
It wasn’t enough to describe a night, not so long ago, when she ordered pasta in white sauce for her dinner. I ordered grilled pork belly as the waitress put two empty glasses beside our utensils, and poured a small can of Sprite in one and cold water in the other. It wasn’t enough to describe the moment I held her hand and asked how the school paper was doing—a conversation we always considered at the top of our list.
It wasn’t enough to describe how the grammar critic in her got the best of the date when she obsessively condemned the misplaced commas and periods of her junior writers. She ranted how her staff failed to comply with the template that she gave them. She kept expressing her dismay at how her coeditors missed their respective deadlines. She kept talking while I listened and waited for my order to be done. Nonetheless, it was still a date I wouldn’t trade with anything.
It hasn’t been enough—at least on my part.
But the great thing about it is that these little things are kept between us. The small talk in a coffee shop full of strangers is kept within the whispers and giggles we shared a random night before. The stories we exchanged, particularly that of the life of a law student and a young journalist, are forever retold in our casual conversations without the virtual judgment of whatever platform of social media.
The thing about Feb. 14, at least on our part, is that although it is a special day, one does not need a special occasion to show someone how much you love him or her.
It doesn’t take a special day to remind me why I should text the first “good morning” message. It doesn’t take a special day to remind me why I should hoard stationery and big greeting cards—only to use some of them for a love letter I would eventually deliver. It doesn’t take a special day for her to give me a mason jar full of folded paper that include “50 Reasons Why I am Loved.”
Although it is true that on this day, we banner our personal definitions of love, some can make exceptions. For me, it’s every single day with Joyce.
Archiebald F. Capila, 23, is a sophomore at San Beda College of Law.
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