Manong Guard was smiling mischievously as he headed toward my desk.
“Ma’am, may nagpapabigay po. Ayaw pasabi kung sino.” (Ma’am, these are for you. The sender doesn’t want to say who it’s from.)
Flowers and cake. Cheesy, huh? Oh, but I remember how my heart and mind went on a marathon then, as if racing against each other. It reminded me so much of the time I received my first bouquet of roses from a three-year crush way back when iPads were science fiction.
Once the guard turned on his heels and walked away, I started to run down my mental list of desirable suspects.
My 5110 sounded the infamous ossicular-damaging “Special” Nokia alert tone. 1 message received:
“Did you get them? Hehehe.”
It was my little sister. Enough for my romantic-comedy-inspired ideas. No wonder Manong Guard was looking so amused. He knew my little sister who was still in college at the time. She went all the way to my office down south and back to the UP Diliman campus just so I could save face on Valentine’s Day.
The night before, in the apartment that we used to share in Makati, I was ranting and rambling on and on about how much pressure V-day is. How there was so much expectation placed on single girls to receive Valentines. (In hindsight, I can say now that the demands on girls in relationships is even heavier—the longer you are in a relationship, the more expensive and more “romantic” people anticipate your Valentine’s Day to be. Also, there is as much pressure on men, except that they can actually do something about it.)
“Absent na lang kaya ako?” (What if I just skip work tomorrow?) I asked rhetorically, as I was not as creative back then in dodging remarks, such as “I think this next one is yours. Mukhang mahal eh,” (‘cause it looks expensive). That a coworker would say as a delivery boy from the florist walks in, followed immediately by a disappointed “Oooh” after a pot of stargazer lilies glides proudly past me, stamens held high.
It was déjà vu. When I was in college, my roommates and I, all single at the time, had been swapping stories about girls serenaded in classrooms by their boyfriends’ frat neophytes or being proposed to via messages spread over the Sunken Garden. Not wanting to feel too left out, we hatched an ingenious plan: Valentine’s Day Manito Manita (Christmas exchange of gifts, Filipino-style). Voila! Everybody gets flowers. Our wish list indicated what kind and color flowers we’d like to receive.
Fast forward to 2012… I am not expecting flowers this year. Rest assured, I haven’t turned into a heart-piñata-bashing, V-day-hating person. I have learned to be content and to have a genuine appreciation for the diverse ways we choose to express love, in and out of season.
Love, I have come to realize, is a choice. It’s a decision that you make, and the extent to which you stand by that decision is only as strong as the value that you place on it in your life. 1 Corinthians 13 says,
“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…”
I remember my past Valentines with fondness, and I smile, no, guffaw at the elaborate schemes I have crafted in the past to simulate to perfection how the day should be spent or evaded. It had always been about me. I had forgotten that a relationship is an equation, a statement consisting of two different expressions but of the same value.
To the man that God had intended for me to spend a lifetime’s worth of Valentine’s Days with, whoever and wherever you are, praise God for being generous with His wisdom. I’ve come to understand that we don’t have to speak exactly the same language of love. What matters is that we both are willing to speak the love language that each of us understands.
There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand:
how an eagle glides through the sky,
how a snake slithers on a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
how a man loves a woman. (Proverbs 30: 18-19)