Couples and singles alike have been celebrating Valentine’s Day for more than 500 years. I have been celebrating Valentine’s Day for almost exactly twenty-two. My mom still has the Valentine heart that the nurses stuck to my crib in the hospital nursery, delicate and pink, with my new name printed on the front.
In Mexico, February 14th is “Día del amor y la amistad,” the day of love and friendship. It is with the philosophy of Día del amor y la amistad that I get through every year without a Valentine, without a second thought to single’s angst.
My best Valentine’s Day memory is of my mom, my brother, and a dark parking lot. My grandmother was due in on a flight and her ride fell through. My mom scooped up the heart-shaped boxes of candy and loaded us into the car to meet Grandmom at the airport. I don’t remember inconvenience, impatience or boredom. I remember the three of us waiting in the parking lot, surrounded by dots of fluorescent light, enclosed together in the car eating our heart-shaped SweeTarts.
“I love you” in Spanish is te amo or te quiero. Te amo translates directly to “I love to you,” or “You, I love.” Te quiero means “I want you.” I want to love you, I want you to love me, I want every part of you, I want you close to me. For Valentine’s Day, I want all the people I love close to me, even if it’s in an airport parking lot.