I wrote this on Valentine’s Day, after my girlfriend and I broke up. I had been so excited to spend the day with her. I’ve never been in a real relationship on Valentine’s, which is a shame because it’s my typ’a holiday. I love to be cute, but I often need a guise to be comfortable with it.
When I went to visit her for the last time, she picked me up from the airport with flowers. That made me so uncomfortable, then guilty for feeling uncomfortable. I had surprised her in similar fashion a few months earlier, and I had been so relieved when I turned them over to her — relieved I wouldn’t have to hold those blooms any longer. Being gay in public is always so nerve-wracking for me. Little else makes me feel as uncomfortable in my own skin as being overly aware of those around me. It took me right out of the moment.
That was maybe the beginning of the end, so by the time Valentine’s came, we’d split, and I spent the day in contemplation. It got me thinking about all the other days I’d been excited for, like her birthday, and our anniversary, which would have been on May 1st.
So I was sitting, feeling pretty sorry for myself, when my friend gave me flowers! It was a pure, unexpected act of kindness and love! And I had made these — I’ll say it — gosh darn adorable little Valentine’s stamps of a snail mail-carrier, and I handed those out, and I remembered how nice it is to give just to give. To give without the expectation of receiving. And, too, the awesome joy of being shown love out of the blue, when you’re not expecting it. To know that someone is thinking of you.
And then I remembered, joy of joys, a holiday devoted just to this, on, funnily enough, May 1st. So I wrote about May Day, and I’m sharing this in the April edition so y’all have plenty of time to prepare. No excuses! I hope you all will join me in celebrating it this year. It’s just superb. But let’s keep this just between us, as the underground-ness of this holiday is the thing that allows it to escape the pitfalls of expectations.
I used to love May Day. Well, I can only remember celebrating it once, but I loved it then. I think I could have made it my favorite holiday. When you’re a kid, it’s Christmas, for obvious reasons, but over the years Christmas becomes laden with so much baggage. For a couple years, it was Hannakuh, because my parents’ friends throw the best latke party, and I had a huge friend-crush on my buddy Simi, who’d always be there. This year I think will be the start of a new era for me: the May Day Era.
The one May Day I remember celebrating, I must have been around four. My brother might have been there, but in my mind it was just my mother and me. Our nextdoor neighbors had yet to move in, and the old women across the street were still alive. I remember giggling a lot, running across the street with her and leaving baskets full of flowers on the women’s porch, then running back and “hiding” behind our porch railing. I remember how my heart skipped at getting away with something, and then the thrill of getting caught, the blush of appreciation. The beautiful flowers and some of the first really good sunny days, and the snowdrops peaking through the still-hard earth in front of the neighbor’s house.
The best part of breaking up is falling in love with my friends again. I’m really bad at it, I admit. I’m not always the best friend. I’m so wrapped up in my own shit, my own insecurities and anxieties. Still, in broad terms I know I’m a good friend. I care deeply, and can at times go above and beyond for folks.
But it’s easier to be in love in a relationship. There are more chemicals involved, and I crave women’s validation. That, too, makes me an absent friend at times. But I’m trying, always. Because I do love my friends. I surround myself with good, good people. Funny and smart people. And they mean the world to me. I’m trying to show them that on more days of the year, but as the flower anecdote illustrated, I ain’t the best at vulnerability, no, sir, no, sir.
So I’ll start with one new day a year. Show someone you love them this May Day; it’ll make you both feel good.