As Valentine's Day approaches and we are bombarded with images of idealized couples exchanging Godiva chocolates and little blue boxes from Tiffany, it's enough to make all the single ladies reach for the nearest pint of Ben and Jerry's.
Love is love is love is love said Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. As a 47-year-old divorcee, I couldn't agree more. I write this from Aruba, honeymoon capital of the Caribbean. I'm here with my father, accompanying him to the happy place that he and my mother shared for over thirty years. Mom passed away suddenly three years ago and now I'm thrilled that dad is in love once again. He's in love with his children, grandchildren, work, community and the gift of reaching 80 in good health.
My heart overflows too, and it has nothing to do with swiping left or right. I am in love with my community of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and the endless flow of guests and who stream through our Vermont family inn.
This year I'm celebrating Valentine's Day by writing love letters to my true love: my female friends. I was fortunate to meet my two best friends in sixth grade and freshman year of college.
In my early twenties I met four older women who became godmothers and mentors. This is the thrive tribe that saw me from the vicissitudes of dating to the celebrations of marriage, the miracle of motherhood and the metamorphosis from anguished wife to exuberant divorcee. They have been my lifelong lifejacket. If that's not love, what is?
When I was at college I took a class on Plato and Aristotle's differing views of love. It was freshman fall, so forgive me classics majors, but my takeaway was that Plato advocated for eros, the passionate physical love between two people, whereas Aristotle extolled philia, the broader love of community.
Experience taught me that Aristotle was right, for in my 16 years of marriage, all my energy and self esteem was entwined in the success of that one relationship. Now I feel grounded like these trees on the lawn of The Wilburton Inn. I stand tall, for my roots spread deep and wide.
So to all the single women looking forward to watching the new Beaches remake and eating a pint of ice cream on a self destructive Valentine's Day for one, I encourage you instead to celebrate the many, many, many ways you are loved.
Make a list of all the people who have loved you past and present. Go way back to childhood teachers, mentors, friends and old boyfriends. Think of all the current forces of good in your life too.
Then make a list of all the people that you love. Think broader than romantic love, broader even than your female friends.I love my colorful downstairs neighbor, Egizio, who reminds me that we must celebrate our individuality and enjoy the beauty of life.
I am forever grateful and in love with this woman, Edna, who has taken care of me, as much as my child, since the day he was born.
It's a simple mathematical truth: the more love you give, the more loved you feel. So instead of feeling empty if you don't have a boyfriend, fill yourself up on all the river of love that flows through your life right now. Flood yourself with gratitude for this abundance. You will feel so loved, so full, there is simply no room in your body for one spoonful of Chubby Hubby or Karamel Sutra.
Then crank up Whitney Huston and dance. Sing! It's tragic that she wasn't able to take her own advice, but on Valentine's Day and every day, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
Well...second only to a puppy!