Every country celebrates this holiday differently if at all. In the States, it has blossomed into the holiday associated with hearts, flowers, and expectations of love. Spending the last 25 years of this holiday in my motherland, I thought it would be cool to experience it somewhere different.
The French see themselves as the most romantic people in the world. They claim the Valentine’s Day card started in France when a prisoner would write love letters to the jailer’s daughter. Today, they see it as a day to go see the Eiffel Tower, eat amazing food, and a good day for marriage proposals.
You know I’m about that romanced life, so why not spend Valentine’s Day in the most romantic city in the world? I got off the flight, took two buses, and walked one block to the room I rented two blocks from the Eiffel Tower.
It had been raining all day, but somehow when I stepped outside it stopped. I wrapped my scarf tighter as the smell of the rain kissed concrete hit my nose. I passed shops filled with fruit, cheese, and wine gazing in every window knowing exactly how I wanted to spend this day. I picked a different shop for each item I purchased for my picnic before rounding the corner to the famed tower. Couples were kissing and cuddling throughout the park. This made me excited to fall in love again. There truly is no feeling that compares to the soft kiss, gentle squeeze, and look in the eyes of someone you love.
I walked slowly through the park thinking of what this day really means to me. Nothing. I don’t think Valentine’s Day should be a reason to celebrate the one you love. That should be a constant in the relationship throughout the year (I say this, yet somehow always celebrate it somehow). Maybe I am a hater, but I am a hopeless romantic if you haven’t guessed by now. One of my favorite cards I ever received on this holiday was a handmade one with candy hearts glued on it spelling out a message and mailed to me from states away. I am a sucker for hand written notes. This is probably the quickest way to my heart… well notes and walks. I love going for walks….. around the block, in a park, to the store, on the beach…. I just love walking.
I took in views of the Eiffel Tower from all angles before deciding on a picnic spot. Champagne isn’t really my thing, but I thought it fit the occasion and opened a bottle. I pulled out my cheese, avocado, celery, and dark chocolate as I observed a man proposing. I assumed she said yes since they kissed, hugged, and cried. I wanted to give them my champagne since I wasn’t going to drink it, but I had already popped it and took a taste from the bottle. I walked around as the sun went down and the cotton candy sky formed a perfect backdrop for Paris. I have been here before, but never seen the tower at night. As the night sky took over, the Eiffel Tower lit up. It really is different at night: a sight I hope to see one day again.
The evening air brought a chill through my body, and I stopped at a restaurant on the way home to get some soup. “Table for how many?” the waitress asked. “One.”
“Yes, just me”. I replied as she showed me to a table. She and the chef were the only two working in this small restaurant. It had no more than 25 chairs, and the setting was cozy and intimate. I ordered some stew to warm up and skyped my mom. The couple next to me overheard me talking and said they were from Salt Lake City, Utah. We chatted for a bit before I felt my eyes get heavy and decided to make my way home.
The lamp lit streets of Paris were inviting, crisp, and for lack of a better word, romantic. I wanted to stay out and savor the city of love, but I had no desire to go to a bar. I didn’t want any coffee. I had barely slept and slowly walked home observing the shops still open, the people speaking their beautiful native tongue, the restaurants buzzing, and the buildings telling stories of the days of old.
This day has me reflecting on a romanced life and how I believe it truly is important to romance yourself. I fly back to the states tomorrow after being gone for about four months and I’ve learned to see the beauty in the every day, connect deeply with people around me, and not wait for someone to do the things I love with me. I cannot tell you how liberating this is to take care of yourself. Love yourself. This is easier said than done, but the journey of learning about myself has brought to amazing places and on epic adventures. I am a work in progress, but I can kiss Paris goodbye knowing I ended this trip as a single woman in the most romantic city in the world on the most romantic holiday of the year and feeling wonderful about what comes next.
This was a Valentine’s Day for the books.
Here are some good quotes for the occasion:
“Most people are slow or champion love because they fear the transformation it brings into their lives. And make no mistakes about it: love does take over and transform the schemes and operations of our egos in a mighty way.” – Aberjhani
“Love is the only answer to every question. It is the only thing that will serve you in every situation. It is the route and the destination. It is medication, liberation, and should be at the heart of and expression of your vocation.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
“Wherever and whenever possible, give your love to everyone and every being and see every day as the Day of Valentine, the Day of Love for all beings!” – Mehmet Murat ildan