He hid in the bushes outside our classroom window, his sobs echoing off of the metal swing set and jungle gym. The teacher’s pet, I was called harshly to the bushes by Mrs. D. She asked if I refused to be M’s Valentine. I naively nodded. She said that I should have said ‘yes’ so I didn’t hurt his feelings. Sometimes other people’s feelings are more important than our own.
High school- yes. College-yes. Rest of my 20’s-yes.
Falling in and out of love with people because they loved me, so I must have to love them somewhere inside of myself. Breaking hearts while trying to spare feelings as they recognized the void in my still naive eyes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
A Valentine’s Day spent on the icy deck of The Bow, Calgary. Societal expectations that I would finally marry this one. Tiny platinum band around my shaking size 4 finger. Titanium around his. Promises we would return every February 14th after.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Passing glances as I went to work and he came home from the night shift. Just enough time to place enough bruises to send me to occupational therapy. Just enough sleepless nights on the floor of the guest room to cry out to God. Just enough warmth from my prayers surrounding my frigid bones to infuse life back into me.
No. No. No.
The Bow never saw my ex-husband and me past that first Valentine’s Day. On the next, I could hear Mrs. D scolding me as I ran across the sea of airport taxis to your beat-up red Toyota from college. Chestnut hair falling into your rebellious ravenous eyes. Tears. Cold hands on warm backs. Chapped lips touching. Calloused fingers running across the scars until they didn’t exist anymore.
Yes, their feelings are important. But so are ours.