I Didn’t Wear a Coat: My Solo Valentine’s Day Adventure

Because I wanted to embrace the chill– of winter. Of being single.

I didn’t want to pretend it’s not a bit lonely. False insulation is not genuine warmth.

But I ventured outside, and into the public.

I decided to focus on hopefully making others a bit happy.

I put on a ridiculous ensemble, because that’s why I like to do. Vagina Warrior colors! Red and black. (A nod to my 2010 role in a local production of “The Vagina Monologues,” which was life-changing. Cast members and supporters of the movement are called Vagina Warriors, and show solidarity by wearing red and black costumes in the show, at rehearsals, and especially on Valentine’s Day.

I put on the same red and black tunic I had worn in the show– with the black roses embroidered around the bustline. But this time I paired it with some pleathery black leggings and a black turtleneck, plus black boots. I wore the black hat my Step-mother gave me for my 29th birthday. Plus for contrast, white gloves and a white scarf, which she also gave me.

I put on bright red lipstick and a smile.

And headed to Dollar Tree to buy balloons. The store was bustling. No one interacted with me– everyone was focused on purchasing their items and getting out. I selected six mylar balloons– four red and black and white ones saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and two that are a more pastel pink. The pink ones were a bit deflated– and I chose them for that reason. They looked lonely.

At the register, the cashier said there was a man who could add air to the balloons. I went over to see him. He had on a bright green button-down, and dutifully aired up each of my balloons.

Isn’t that what love does? It adds a little extra air to your heart! It pumps you up. Makes you feel like floating again.

Then I called the woman I bring Holy Communion to on impulse and asked if I could drop by. She said sure.

I stopped over with three balloons– one for her, her daughter, and her son who helps take care of them.

Her smile when she answered the door was worth it!

“I like your costume,” she said. “You look cute.”

She stepped back and invited me into her home. I first gave the pink balloon to her daughter– who also happened to be wearing a pink shirt! Then I asked her which balloon she would like– she chose. I tried to find her son, but he wasn’t around. I left the third one for him, wished them a Happy Valentine’s Day, and left.

Then I called my Step-mom and asked if I could stop by. Yep!

She too liked my ensemble.

I brought in a balloon for her and my Dad. (The second one I had intended for them got away somehow!)

And their adorable cat, Miss Bea, started playing with the string. Perfect!

A little valentine for the cat.

I asked Diane if she would mind taking some pictures of me outside, and she indulged me. I stood by the black lamp post in their front yard , the snow up to my calves. I held onto the last balloon– the one I was saving for myself.

Another pink heart.

I took some pictures, goofing off.

I hugged her, thanked her. Made plans to stop by after work to give them their cards.

That’s our family tradition– we’re card people.

But as I went to put my heart balloon into the backseat of my car, it floated away.

I looked up and thanked God.

That’s gotta be a good sign!

You have to give away your heart first for someone to receive it.

I wasn’t sad. I was relieved.

I watched that pink balloon spiral up into the cold air.

And dashed home, to my Valentine– this beautiful blog.

Yes, it’s a bit lonely today. But I gave myself a hug, and it helped.

And as long as I’ve got my Writing, I’m never alone.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Unrelenting Amee! And now to work I go.

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After Mass: On Religion, Love, and the Gift of Faith

During Mass today, I realized what it’s about. Why I go.

Why we put up with all the idiosyncrasies of religion– the demands, the divisiveness.

We do it to be part of something bigger than ourselves. To share our lives in the midst of chaos and find a still point.

We do it to admit, “I need help. I can’t do do this alone.”

Admitting we need help is the hardest thing for most humans to do. We want to be self-reliant, we want to be okay, no matter what.

I love my church, because during peace, people walk around with open arms. They shake your hand, look you in the eye, smile.

My parents are local, and I enjoy seeing them. However, I don’t have siblings, and my family lives out of state. So I do feel lonely at times.

But in this church, I get hugs, just like I do with my family. And although there are still a lot of things I’m figuring out about my life, this church makes me feel anchored. Singing songs of praise makes me feel anchored. We spend the week busy, scrambling to get things done– we deserve to rest and just be thankful for what God has given us! To stand with others and testify that yes, we’re glad to be standing here, together. The services in my church usually run two hours– and I love that! At other churches, they are usually only 45 minutes to an hour, and everyone usually rushes right out after Holy Communion, and barely talks at all if they do stay. People in this church linger. A few times a month, they head into the parish hall for coffee. There’s no rush, they want to meet you, get to know you.

That makes me feel so happy. It’s just a simple church– and that’s why I like it. It’s not high-falutin’, it’s not about artifice.

It’s just about love, service, and appreciation.

Knowing that a family is depending on me to bring them Holy Communion anchors me.

I know that I can’t live my life alone, and that I’m never alone.

I’m learning that God is more than Bible verses and dogma. It’s more than prayer and Confession.

God is truly very basic.

God is a secure feeling of love.

God is a warmth in your heart that says, “Go ahead, you don’t have to be scared. I’m with you.”

God is the absolute confirmation that all you are, and all you haven’t been– is enough, because you’re doing the best you can.

And mostly, God is feeling so overwhelmed with that truth that all you want to do is share it with others.

And not by conversion– but by acceptance. By example. By trusting.

Be kind. Forgive. Help, with no expectations or conditions.

I feel God with me today. It’s an incredible lightness, to help us float through the storm.

We don’t need to know where we’re going or why– only that we’re on the right path.