From a young age I have always had a particular distain for Valentines Day. Just typing the word makes me feel like a poetic disappointment because for me there is no bigger cliché than V – day. The plastic foil hearts, overpriced miniature teddy bears and glittery cards bulging out of every shop window like a red, baloony, no-one-loves-you vomit. It is this very “Eeyore” attitude that drew me towards a dear friend of mine Theresa.
It was my first year at The New School and when there are only 18 people in your year, it’s not all that difficult to get into the cool group. It was well into my grade 8 year and I still found the yellow tunic uniform stiff and scratchy on my skin, much like everything else in my life. Tamara, the coolest girl in our class wanted to be my BFF and although truthfully I found her to be as genuine as a “Louis Vuitton” bag sold on the side of William Nicol, she was marginally less painful than eating my 1st break sarmie alone. So there I was, listening to Mrs Edwards tell the class about her new engagement to man she only just met a few months ago online. Yawn.
I scanned the walls and found myself glancing back to the row behind me where Theresa sat with the weird kids. They were talking about a death pact they had made, as Theresa had put it so eloquently: “We’ve decided if we aren’t happy by the end of the year we’re just going to jump off a bridge and end it all”. Tamara scoffed and applied more strawberry lip-gloss while I edged back intrigued by the girl who had “I Love David” Tipex'd into... well everything. Her space case, her shoes, her schoolbag. This was someone I needed to know. She didn’t plaster on a fake smile everyday like the rest of us, nor did she tantrum that we weren’t allowed highlights in our hair and when Mrs Edwards showed us her engagement ring she was the only other girl in class who developed instant acid reflux at the sight of the ugly rock. I decided then and there to make her my best friend in the whole world.
Theresa and I lived only a few blocks away from each other and soon started meeting up every day after school for long walks and talks. We’d strip off the “Kotch Coloured Dishcloths” we called school uniforms, put on our Buffalos and skater clothes and escape from a world full of Tamaras than didn’t understand us. We talked about the constant war we were losing against our bodies, our dreams, our biggest fears, our deepest secrets and our obsession for Leonardo Di Caprio but most of all we spoke about love. We’d lie on the grass looking up at clouds for hours trying to figure out how we could get her David and my Nick to fall as madly in love with us as we were with them. But as time went on our hearts grew bigger and could accommodate so much more than that.
We were sitting on some swings in a park staring at a sandpit when Theresa said: “Buddy I know I’m going to marry David one day but what if my heart was more like a sandpit, and some of it was for someone else? What if there was enough space for other people, other things.” I loved the idea. From that day on we’d divide our “sandpit” in relation to the many different suitors that entered and exited our hearts. Some days my Sandpit would have 3 scoops of David, 2 of Mark, a bucket of Ryan and the rest filled with Peter. Some days our sandpits were full to the brim and some days they were empty.
Though those days are so far behind me I can’t help but smile to myself at how we’d managed to simplify years of teenage angst and heartbreak into a small dirty pit of sand filled with stompies, half chewed suckers, broken toys and beer bottle caps.
The truth is that if Cupid wasn’t so concerned with all this red glittery nonsense he’d design cards that read: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, my sandpit can only hold 2 cups of you”. Unfortunately he only gets 1 day a year for PR and he uses it to promote the idea that what’s in our hearts is measured by who’s hand we hold in the movies.
Well, my heart is a sandpit:
1 big bucket goes to my work. It gives me the privilege to experience adventure everyday. It constantly challenges me to have a voice in a world of noise. It makes me feel like I count and that’s important.
At least 5 shovels full go to my quirky and accepting family who have given me a sense of humour and more support than a La Senza push up bra.
1 tablespoon goes to Candace Bushnell, the writer of Sex and the City whom I blame for my never ending appetite for all things stiletto, sexy and sippable.
10 Cups go to the magnificent bunch of creatures surrounding me I call friends. From the few I lunch with once every few months to the ones that greet me at the office everyday. They truly are a compass on my journey... telling me when have spinach in my teeth or reminding me to smile when all I want to do is pierce my jugular with a butter knife.
A big handful goes to New York for making me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. For making being unique so fucking cool and for inspiring me to put finger to keyboard.
3 cooler boxes full go to My Oke who always looks at me like I’ve just won Miss Universe, who still opens the door for me and tells me he loves me at least 16 times a day. He is still the best kisser I have ever had and the only one in the world who knows who I am under all the bullshit.
A soup bowl of sand goes to The Stage, any stage. For allowing me to bare all. To escape. To create. To always play.
So this Valentines day, I’m saying I love you to all of that. All that fills my heart and my sandpit. And an especially big mound to Theresa who’s heart is bigger than any sandpit I’ve seen. A life long friend who shows me courage, understanding and truth but above all love.