Jewish Journal

Things I’ve Learned on My Path to Love - A Valentine’s Day Reflection

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

February 14, 2011 | 6:36 pm

I have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day. When I was growing up, I lived in a predominately Jewish area and it seemed like just another peripheral holiday I didn’t celebrate, like Easter. I loved the candy that came along with these holidays, but aside from that, they didn’t really impact my life. In college, where hooking-up-consistently was about as committed as one could get, Valentine’s Day was another excuse to use our fake IDs on a weekday. Then it became the day a relationship started and so for a few years it had extra meaning and sanctimony. When we broke up, I dreaded Valentine’s Day more than I dreaded stepping on a scale my first year of college. But the day finally came and to ignore my heartache, that year I went with some friends to Lucent L’Amour which is an art/music festival-of-sorts put on by the Los Angeles Burning Man affiliates and I had a great time. PS – if you ever need to get your mind off something, I assure you there is no better way than to do something connected with Burning Man.

But now a few years later, I’ve settled into appreciating the Day for what it is – a cheesy highly manufactured greeting card driven holiday that just also happens to be a great excuse to say I love you. No matter what, I’m still a big believer in love and any excuse to let it hang on your sleeve is a good one.

A year ago tonight, Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday night and wanting to live up the salad days of my youth, I insisted on a raucous night out on the town. With two of my closest girlfriends, I went out and a hit up a few spots before ending up at The Roger Room. We joined some men at a booth where one of my friends, Martinique, met a boy who is now her current boyfriend. We all went back there this Saturday night to commemorate the occasion. A year ago, Martinique and I were commiserating about how miserable dating in LA can be because men have too many choices; this time I was sitting across from a deliriously happy couple. Her life has completely changed and I couldn’t be happier for her. But of course, I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of our lives as I saw across from her. Have I made dating progress in the past year? Or have I just wasted a lot of time because after another year of dating, I’m in the exact same place I was last year, literally?

If you date and don’t end up in a relationship, have you just squandered precious time and energy?

Of course, in some ways, it would appear that I am in the exact same place I was a year ago. But when you factor in life outside of dating, this year has been full of so many good changes, it would be hard to recount. And of course, all those amazing career advancements, and emotional maturations, and memories made with family and friends over the last year have greatly informed my character and so I couldn’t possibly be in the same place. But then I think of all the time spent over the last year going out with creeps or talking on the phone or checking my phone for texts. What does it all amount to? That time was time away from things I love, and of course when you’re in love and looking back on that, you can easily say it was well worth it to get to where you are. But when you’re in between relationships, it’s hard to see what the point of it all is. So, I’m spending today, trying to remind myself that I have in deed learned quite a bit in Cupid’s arena this year and perhaps you have too.

For all the lovers out there, one of my favorite love poems by e.e.cummings for you:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

For everyone else, I offer Ten Things I Have Learned in the Last Year From Dating

1. Check, double check, and triple check before hitting send on your iPhone when you are texting the words Devon asked Beth out! What a hussy! to your other friend Lacey and not directly to Beth.
2. Do not reply to flirty double entendre filled texts from your married boss because his wife will read his texts.
3. No matter how many times after dinner he assures you that he’s just inviting you to his house for coffee and doesn’t want to move too fast, he will try to take off your clothes.
4. Some professional Minnesota Twins players are dumb. So dumb that regardless of how cute he is, you can’t ignore his being dumb.
5. Cowards who go running back to the midget girl they dated before you will blame his relationship problems with her on you, so that she will bark expletives like a puppy being tripped on, as soon as she sees you above her.
6. What happens at Coachella stays at Coachella.
7. Some men will believe you when you tell them you want to have four children and name them after different pastas, such as Fusilli, Papperdelle, Cellentani, Gemelli. 
8. When the man tries to pay for dinner with a coupon, you will need to leave your purse underneath the table to pretend to go back and get it to fix the tip.
9. You cannot be friends with exs because friends don’t hate each other or sleep with each other.
10.  It’s ok to make an exception and make-out with someone younger than you when he has an Olympic Medal in snowboarding.

Proof that it is not all for naught I guess. Here’s to hoping I learn even more on my journey this year. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Tamara Shayne Kagel is a twenty-something fixture on the Los Angeles scene currently living in Santa Monica.  Currently, Tamara is a successful freelance writer (just ask her...

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