Happy Valentine's Day

This will be the second Valentines Day in a row I have no official object of affection. But this year, February 14th singledom feels perfectly OK,  compared with last year's Valentine's Day trauma. Back then I was stuck in the middle of a horrible unrequited love affair, my first of that kind.

Contrary to the Chaucerian notion of courtly love, there really is nothing diginfied about unrequitedness. All it does is turn you into a total cheeseball, making every song sound like it's for you; my favorites were 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' , The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and  'Beautiful' (Gordon Lightfoot's version, not Christina Aguilera's).

Unrequited love makes you analyse your beloved's tiniest gestures because you're always hoping they may signify some deeper emotion...I'll always remember the afternoon she and I drove up the PCH and she fell asleep with her little finger tucked inside my belt loop...I didn't change gear for several miles for fear of disturbing this rare display of tenderness...

Sadly, the object of my desire at the time was in no mood for relationships. She was happy to 'hang out' but made a point of reminding me constantly that she had "nothing to give". "I am an empty well," she would sigh. I thought I was strong enough to provide enough love for the two of us, mainly because I truly believed in every bone of my body that this was the person for me.

She always commended my devotion and persistence, as did my friends. "Wow, you must really love her," they would marvel when time after time, the love of my life would decide it was all getting a bit heavy and back out. She and I must have broken up around 20 times in the year or so we were 'hanging out'. That's a personal record. Each time it got harder and harder, every separation would plunge me into a deeper state of lovesickness. My problem was, the writing was on the wall - I just chose not to read it. You can't make a person love you, no matter how much you give them, no matter how much they 'like' you. If they don't - or won't - feel it, it really is a losing battle. Thing is, I'm one of those people that hates giving up. I became addicted to the cycle of misery, the highs that came with each crumb of affection, and the lows that ensued when that affection was taken away.

She, in turn, became consumed by guilt, because she enjoyed my company but knew in her heart of hearts that her feelings were not the same as mine. It made her dislike herself, and it made her dislike me. So Valentines 2005 was spent drunk and teary-eyed with a friend at Jumbo's Clown Room, looking at strippers and wondering what my lover was doing and whether I would ever hear from her again. I did, and after two weeks she got cold feet, something that would happen again and again and again throughout the year.

My lows during 2005 were medicated by tequila and flings. Mainly innocent kisses, affection fixes. Some of those - one in particular - could have turned into something really nice but I was too confused and preoccupied to realize it at the time. At the end of the year she decided that actually she wanted to give it a go. She said she had loved me all along but was too unsure about me to admit it. We lasted about a month before she read my diaries and discovered I had made out with "half of Los Angeles" as she put it. She wrote a song about how slutty I was. She said she could never trust me and that she wanted to go back to how things were before. I knew that this would probably make me lose my mind so down we went in a blaze of glory, one last time, in a sea of tears and broken crockery.

There is a happy ending - I know that Valentine's Day 2006 will be spent in an altogether happier vein than Valentines 2005, with my good friends from the Style Council, at Taix lounge in Echo Park. If you're in an unrequited love affair, or if you're feeling blue, remember this - love only comes when it is ready to, you can't force it. And in the meantime, I suggest you come join us for a happy Valentine's Day drink - with cheap champagne we shall salute those lucky souls whom Cupid has blessed, and revel in the company of our dear and lovely single friends. Salut!

Posted by Caroline Ryder

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