February 14, 2022

A Valentine’s Day Meditation for the Rest of Us

When you learn that St. Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, epilepsy, and beekeepers, you think this makes a terrible kind of sense. What is love, if not emotional epilepsy? What is epilepsy, if not a thousand bee stings to the brain? And what, after all, are bees, if not honey-maddened lovers, slaving away for their queen? You pose these questions to your friend via text, as you sit in your apartment and she sits in a hospital with electrodes glued to her head. You wonder if St. Valentine knew what he was doing, when he married all those lovers against the emperor’s orders. You wonder if any of us ever know what we’re doing—if it isn’t all just a game of terrible chance: fall in love, have a seizure, spend your life tending to the needs of the hive. You’re wearing leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, and you have leftover soup in the fridge. Your friend is wearing her electrodes, looking out a rain-stained window, and eating the raw onions and tomato slice that came to her when she ordered veggies and hummus. This, too, makes a terrible kind of sense. On a day when everything is pink and red and covered in chocolate, somewhere, a lesser known saint is sitting alone, waiting to see what will become of him and choosing to go on living nonetheless.

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