I was so much older then...

When I was in the 7th grade, I had a Valentine.  We dated for six months before we really made out...  lots of hand holding.

When it happened, we broke up soon after.  I really don't think the relationship was ready for that level of physical intimacy.

I had a Valentine in my freshman year of high school...  a sophomore.  She was cool.  She liked the Ramones and the Lunachicks, and she could makeout with gum in her mouth.  I could never find where she was hiding it, but I tried.  I bought her perfume and gave it to her at Mimi's pizzeria on the Upper East Side.  She told me, upon acceptance, that she didn't really wear perfume.  Why she couldn't just graciously accept, I have no idea...  that bothered me and we broke up soon after. 

I often wonder what happened to that perfume.

When I was a senior, I was in the middle of a serious two year high school romance.  Valentine's Day was the end of a long string of relationship capex.  November: Anniversary.  December: Christmas.  January: Birthday.  February: Valentine's Day.  Love was an expensive proposition.

She doesn't talk to me anymore, even though she lives about three blocks away from me now, but there's still something that persists from that relationship:  A black Pink Floyd t-shirt.  Its 10 years old now, and there's not a single hole in it.  I wear it to the gym and its been washed a million times.  Its faded, but like Keith Richards, it cannot be killed by conventional weapons.

As a junior in college, Valentine's Day got me back into a relationship with my best college friend.  I was smitten for two years and she was... well...  looking for a boyfriend.  That lasted until I realized that this wasn't the ultimate culmination of three years of emotional friendship...  but instead a boyfriend beartrap that I stumbled into in the hopes of a tuna sandwich.  Tigers are kind of stupid that way.  Growl.

She'll be getting married later this year.

The year after college, I dated a girl who wanted to change the world.  I made her some kind of fake meat tortilla for Valentine's Day, which she didn't really eat, because it still looked like meat.  I threw myself at her for six months, we dated for six months, got dumped, then tried unsuccessfully to prove to her that she'd regret dumped me by being the best guy on the face of the earth.  This included helping her move to Ohio, where she ultimately fell for her Americorps supervisor. 

I guess getting a girl like that to fall for a guy working for the General Motors Corporation was a bit of a longshot.  Perhaps if we oppressed the weak a little less and curbed some of the polluting, and if she hadn't seen Roger & Me things might have gone differently. 

Damn you Michael Moore.

Last year, I dated a girl who seemed to want to be everyone's Valentine...  like in bars and with guys that she had been with before.  Sketchy sketchy.  I did like her cat, though, and I don't even really like cats.

Her actual cat.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

And now?  And now after all that I've been through, I think I know less about love than I ever did before.  Sometimes, I really thought I knew what I want and other times, I really knew what I want and couldn't get my stupid male mind to accept it.  I go after what isn't good for me, and kick and scream when things seem just right.

I'm not real bright and I'm far from as in touch with this part of myself as I need to be.  Regrets?  I have the growing suspicion that I now have them.  Hope?  Yes, everyday.  I hope for clarity of vision...  to see into myself and understand who I want to be, and therefore, who I want to be with.  The search for others really is a search for self and I think things don't work out when you forget that its just as much about you as it is about the other person.  If you don't have all your ducks in a row, forget about the doves. 

Someone should write the "Art of Love" and model it after the "Art of War."  Know thyself.  I hope I figure it all out one day... and soon, before my ducks and doves start pecking away at each other.