In my family, Valentine’s Day was always a day when the women in our family did nice things for each other.
When we were little, my sister and I got stuffed animals and pjs with hearts on them, and when we got older we started buying each other jewelry. One year when she was still in high school, my little sister saved up and got me the most beautiful ring–I still wear it every day.
I don’t know exactly how it started. I think maybe my grandma* started it by giving little stickers and toys to my mom and uncle when they were little, and my mom continued it when my sister and I were born.
It’s not about romance. It’s about pink and red heart shaped things. It’s about stickers and candy. It’s about being too old for a stuffed animal but loving it anyway. It’s about doing something unexpectedly nice.
It’s not about a date. It’s about construction paper.
It’s not about love. It’s about love.
Does that make any sense at all?
This world of ours can be lonely and hard. We all deserve a day when we give each other notes that we sign “<3,” a day when we pause to honor the love that is there, that is always there, a love that we are entitled to just by being born. You are special. You are loved. You make the world a better place.
I hope people see my art this February and feel stronger. I want them to look at it and feel their hearts pump strong and loud like drums. I hope they feel heartened, courageous, like they have the power to change the world one step at a time. I hope they feel like they matter. I hope they feel loved.
I hope my art can be just another little love note to all the good people of the world, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
*My grandma, by the way, was totally badass and not at all averse to political protest. She got arrested in the 1930s for protesting on behalf of unions for the right to strike.