Watching Ashton while dreaming of Barthes.
I see Her alone, 10:05 on a Wednesday at the Hampshire Mall Cinemark. Coming Attractions include Winter’s Tale, which combines two of romance’s favorite settings, New York City and Edwardian era England, into a single mythic location where Colin Ferrell and Jessica Brown Findlay will fall in love despite evil Russell Crowe’s plot to tear them apart. “Between Love and Destiny. Between Light and Dark. Miracles Can Happen. This Valentine’s Day.” A group of four high school girls sit in front of me. One says, “We’re totally seeing that.”
At CVS, a customer says to the pharmacist, “I don’t think I’d ever go to the doctor if my wife didn’t make me.” The pharmacist replies, “Yep, we’d be beans without ‘em,” as I browse Hallmark cards, calligraphy and shades of red:
Of all the souls in the universe / Yours is the only one
I ask two newly-wed friends what they’re doing this summer. They say they got enough money from the wedding that they’re “just going to travel and hang out.”
Valentine’s Day is an ensemble romantic comedy released by New Line Cinema in 2010. It follows a cadre of celebrities falling in and out of love over the course of a single day in Los Angeles. It’s one in a recent string of rom-com smorgasbords (Love, Actually, He’s Just Not That Into You, New Year’s Eve). As many as twelve sub-plots guarantee viewers a character with whom to empathize, regardless of age, ethnicity, or relationship status. A Wal-Mart of love. At one point, Ashton Kutcher, playing a ﬂorist, tells Jennifer Garner, playing a schoolteacher, “It’s Valentine’s Day. You don’t think. You just do.”
You are and always will be / My one and only / My love, my everything
I watch all of Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales and decide to go celibate for awhile.
In the “To Be Ascetic” section of A Lover’s Discourse, Roland Barthes admits to masking a lack of love with self-punishment. “I shall get up early and work while it is still dark outside, like a monk. I shall be very patient, a little sad, in a word, worthy.”
I mention my new monk plan to Jonathan who says, “Everyone who hasn’t had sex in awhile says they’re ‘deciding’ to go celibate.”
I almost stopped looking / and then I found you / just in the nick of time
I stop texting a few people. A few people stop texting me.
In the dentist’s ofﬁce, I hear “Waiting For Superman.” Daughtry sings in the third person about a woman “chasing an answer,” “talking to angels,” “dancing with strangers and falling apart.” She makes excuses as to why Superman, an idealized male, has yet to arrive. The bridge brings hope that maybe, by the ﬁnal chorus, Daughtry will “lift her up, save her now, before it’s too late,” fulﬁlling both their fantasies, but each one waits on ﬁgments. Which archetype is more pathetic, her dreaming of heroes or him conjuring a ‘fallen’ woman to save?
Barthes says, “It is my desire I desire, and the loved being is no more than its tool.”
As the class lies down in shavasana, my yoga teacher Eric asks if anyone would like a blanket. “Raise your hand and I’ll bring you one.” He says accepting help is a sign of humility. “No matter how independent we seem, a network of people are lifting us up.”
I melt into the warmth of your love / knowing I’m hopelessly yours
A honky-tonk band plays “Wooly Bully” at the bowling alley. The ﬂoor’s full of gyrating retirees and we join in, my friends dancing with their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and I meet Svetlana, lipstick matching her bright pink sweater. I say, “Does this band play every Sunday?” She itches her gray hair. “Uh-huh. 4 to 8. Early, for us old folks.” Her hips swivel, we step right, left, our shoulders bob. The band sings, “Matty told Hatty / ’That’s the thing to do / Get someone really / to pull the wool with you.’”
A Gatorade vending machine asks, “Is it in you?” and I know the it stands for ‘the will to succeed’ or something, but I feel it wondering, “Is love in you?”
I walk out of CVS, ﬁngers covered in red glitter. Leona Lewis sings in my headphones:
“You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding I keep keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding I keep keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding I keep keep bleeding love”