Love Lands on Sweetest Day (A Self-Reflection)

“Love, actually, is all around.”

That’s what the movie, Love Actually, tells us. It’s everywhere you go. It’s within you. It’s a kind smile or gesture. It’s your mother and father. It’s your brothers and sisters. It’s chosen family, children and friends. It’s teachers who care and encourage. It’s mercy and miracles. It’s forgiveness for the forsaken and forbidden. Love, it’s not just romantic. I believe that.

But that’s not what the media would have us believe. Enter: the Hallmark holiday “Sweetest Day” (Oct. 17).

Sweetest Day originated in the Midwest, so many may have never heard of it, but even as a Midwesterner, I’d only learned of it in college, around 2001. When the fact is, this lovely holiday – said to be Valentine’s Day other half, when women buy men gifts – began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1920s. (Thanks, Cleveland.) Confectioners wanted people to buy more candy. It amazes me how many marketing ploys have crept into the crevices of our cultural norms to stay, like the diamond ring for wedding engagements, for example, but that’s another blog for another day.

Boom! In your face! (Whoa, that pun wasn't intended, but there it is.) Enjoy pictures I took from the park,
Boom! In your face! (Whoa, that pun wasn’t intended, but there it is.) Enjoy pictures I took from the park, “Love Land,” in South Korea’s Jeju Island as I discuss romantic love.

Today, I’m giving this lovely holiday the spotlight because I’ve had romantic love on my mind a lot recently. I’m not being paranoid, “love” really is all around me! Everywhere I go – I see it on TV, in movies, on billboards, on Facebook. If people aren’t boo’d up and posing in love, they are portrayed as a  desperate hot mess in seek of it.

969259_10201493093312066_1166757618_nI really do feel satisfied being ‘singular’ until I meet a man I adore and the stars are aligned and the chemistry is electric and he knocks me off my feet. Really! But even those of us with the strongest will or self-assurance eventually cave to the societal pressures, and media- and commercially-driven reinforcement of romantic love.

Love Land in Jeju Island, South Korea.

When I talk to friends back home and we catch up, the question of love and romance always arises. I’ve been mystified since my teenage years of how compulsory the question, itself, and topic, in general, is in conversations.

Why is being made a match so all-consuming for us?

And all this love talk brings me straight to the actual point: returning home to find most of my friends are “settled down” in serious relationships or (gulp) married.

Honestly, this isn’t news at all. I’ve always been dubbed the man-less wonder. However, there’s something about “coming home”… The thought of returning to the familiar, the predictable, the same-as-you-left-it that makes home home. But when you leave the country for three years, as much as things will remain the same, surely, just as much will have changed. It’s not a big deal. I had friends in high school that had babies young, or got married in their early 20’s, but there is something about getting older, or being away, and coming back to the married life… of those around you that moves me in the most discomforting way.

1001106_10201493091272015_220674580_nBy no means was it my aim to find a Korean man, or any other man for that matter, to meet, marry and bring home with me. I was all about traveling, being brand new for a while, and living that international life. I remember the day I told one of my friends I was leaving for Korea. I told her to guess what big and exciting news I had. And she said with wide eyes, raised brows and dancing hands, “You’re getting married!” My reply, after my face sunk with confusion, “Um… naw girl – I’m moving to South Korea.” (insert stank face, here)

999870_10201493089951982_2067888087_n

That’s what I left behind, and that’s what I am coming back home to. Just the other day, a friend asked (the other popular question when I talk to anyone from home), “When are you coming back?” And before I could answer, the next question was, “Soooo, you get you an Asian guy?”  (sigh) I can’t make this stuff up people.

Love Land in Jeju Island, South Korea.

Maybe it’s me, but I’m just not concerned so much with “getting a guy”.  Even at “my age…” But then, I’m often convinced I have the Peter Pan syndrome. I’m trying to enjoy life as freely as I can for as long as I can, and that doesn’t mean sleeping around, it just means enjoying what I have at the moment and indulging in the beauty that unfolds in life. Isn’t that romantic enough?

But, if you MUST celebrate this Hallmark holiday, go ahead. Enjoy yourself. Love on your loved ones. Eat chocolates in heart-shaped boxes during the day, and make love and spoon all night. Who cares… My momma loves me!

Shared on the Facebook page of UNILAD; taken from the Instagram page of
Shared on the Facebook page of UNILAD; taken from the Instagram page of “alexmelki.”

Just remember, be good, beautiful people, to yourself and others. Live and let love…

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