a love letter to all the parts of me the supermarket doesn't carry valentines for
I learned pretty recently that the things we should be honoring don't have any mentions in the Hallmark aisles.
Try as I might, the overabundance of silly silly love gets to me today. But not because I wish it was coming from someone else. But because I wish I knew better how to give it to myself. Self-referential writing feels inherently selfish. No better day to lean into it than a holiday created for the sole purpose of giving the best box of chocolates.
So on this our most pagan of the holidays, ((which may or may not have roots in a ceremony in which the main act was flaying goats, dipping strips of the goat hide in goat blood, and slapping women and the crop fields with the bloody goat strips to promote fertility)) I'm writing valentines to all the parts of me that won't find their names in any card on any shelf of any card shop peddling overpriced roses and too-big teddy bears.
Let's start from the top.
To my hair:
You and I have had our twists and turns. But in the end, I love you, no matter your kinks.
To the little old brain that lives beneath that hair:
It's been my life's pleasure to watch you grow. Sorry you grew to be a smart-ass.
To my blue-but-sometimes-green eyes:
I trust you I trust you I trust you.
Mom loves you, so so do I. Keep pointing me towards trouble and helping me sniff my way out of it.
To my lips:
May you keep wearing colors that are too loud for a Sunday afternoon and speaking loudly often and without regard to decorum. Overshare with joy, fill space, it is not unusual for your kind to do so. Those who would shut their ears to you are those who couldn't hear you in the first place.
Dearest neck and shoulders:
The little "yay" necklace looks so good on you. You keep my head held high, my back straight, as I walk through the world. My pride dresses itself in you.
To my arms:
You sure never looked anything like I was told I should want you to. But what amazing things you can do- hold a baby, carry boxes of sparkling water, hold open doors, hug my family, place second in the 7th grade dance team plank competition. What incredible things you are capable of, and what an abundance of things you have left to learn.
To my fingers:
You are the extension of myself. My love to you- for waiting for the words to come, and then dutifully doing the work of sharing them. And for having compliment-worthy nailbeds.
To my chest and ribcage:
You have such space inside of you- and you choose to give it up to protect a soggy aching heart. You've taught me all about flexibility- no one does give and take like you do. You know all about making space for the good and expunging the bad. I love you because you're where the butterflies live, the ones that go all kinds of crazy when someone looks at us the wrong way, or the very right way. And you blush so easily. Thanks for being soft and protecting me while you do it.
I suppose it would be nice if you would stop falling in love so easily, with things and with people, but I guess that's kinda your job. You are the most non-discerning of us all, your arms are always wide open, running full tilt at whatever will catch you. You are wiggly and pulsing and full of all kinds of stuff I'll never understand. Don't ever change. LYLAS.
Just when I think I can't catch my breath, there you are.
To my belly:
I love the way you wrap yourself around me, the way you keep me warm and happy, the way you've always been so stubborn but knew that I wouldn't hate that forever. You trust your gut. Keep reminding me to trust mine.
To my thighs:
Thanks for holding me up all these years, no matter how many times I wished you'd just quit and walk out on me.
Others have written you love letters in varying forms, but I know you best. Without you, I don't get to climb the playground behind the library, I don't get to take up running and then decide running isn't for me, I don't get to get up in front of the whole high school and lift Marina like our lives depended on it (and it sure felt like they did). Without you, I don't have a leg to stand on (lol). Thanks for keeping me upright when everything else seemed like it would fail.
And last but not least, to my feet:
Thanks for not leaving me even after everything I put you through, even after all the work shifts, the dance classes, the heels that were too cute to say no to, the rehearsals, the hikes, the new pair of doc martens, and the pointe shoes in eight grade (it could have been much worse), through the calluses and the callus remover and the inevitable return of the calluses and the eventual refusal of the callus remover because you need a thick skin to get on in this world. Pedicures are not enough to say thank you, but I'll keep trying.
dear little parts of me-
I find you astonishing. Happy Valentine's Day to all the little you's that make up me.