I’ve Rented a Metal Box in the Middle of Nowhere for Valentine’s Day and So Should You
I bail on civilization and people who are worried whether they’d meet someone “in time” to have a date, hoping someone, anyone, would be their Valentine.
Valentine’s Day: It’s the traditional end of Cuffing Season (that time of year when you sometimes get a “snuggle-buddy” for a few months… until Valentine’s Day changes things). Sometimes the person you’re “dating” mysteriously disappears because they can’t make plans with you for “that holiday” because it would mean that what you have could be seen as “serious.”
I say screw it and throw some caution to the wind and drive off into the sunset on your own. How do you begin to unfurl a renewed soulful love affair with yourself during the days a winter of discontent begins to wind down?
In the past I’ve rented a metal box to stay in alone in remote areas. It wasn’t practicing for death, not even a little death. I wanted to bail on civilization and people who were worried whether they’d meet someone “in time” to have a date, hoping someone, anyone, would be their Valentine. Instead, I’ve happily been my own Valentine and holed up comfortably with myself in everything from a mid-century “canned ham” trailer way out in Anza Borrego in San Diego County or in an airstream and spent “me time” high atop Latigo Canyon above Malibu, California with no one to impress, no one to make joint decisions with, just canine companionship, books, trees, views, quiet, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises and peace—zero pressure. All of this for less than the price of a new outfit, new make-up, and going out for a fancy dinner. The years I’ve been my own Valentine and gone on off-the-grid adventures have been some of the most satisfying times of my life. A teacher of mine once told me his favorite quote is the DH Lawrence line, “I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself.” That’s stuck with me and I never feel sorry for myself if I’m lucky to spend time with myself for Valentine’s Day. I resolve to be wild.
This year I’m going out to stay down a dirt road in a small home on acreage, complete with its own giant hangar that looks like it could fit about three small flying saucers, and could be straight out of an X-Files episode. My one and only pandemic pod partners (my dogs) and I will allow ourselves to enjoy a carry-out meal and have the company of over-sized Joshua Tree cacti and various small desert critters. Solitude is a gal’s best friend.
For a lot of people, the time just after Valentine’s Day will mark their pandemic-versaries. Many parts of the world began to shut down last February and March. It’s been a truly alien experience to not see most of other people’s faces for this calendar year and to worry day and night whether tiny things we cannot see will infect us and kill us. It seems barely a time to fret over having a Valentine or not, when we’re all trying to merely stay alive.
This year many people can’t choose to be alone or not for Valentine’s Day, as they’ve been their own “pandemic pod” for months now. Let’s face it—there is no bad time of year for a solo vacation away from it all, but deciding to venture out on one’s own on Valentine’s Day any old year can be of special significance. We’re still in a society that tries to connect self worth to coupledom.
Many folks out there assign too much value to “being wanted” on a day used to sell over-priced flowers, candy, and expensive dinners. In China, they celebrate not being in a relationship and call it “Singles Day” on Nov. 11 each year. 1-1/1-1 is not the loneliest number. People are encouraged to really treat themselves, and they do. Sure, we have creations such as Galentine’s Day, but you may still really just want to be completely untethered.
I’m not the only one who’s spent this “romantic” holiday solo. James Bryson Hyatt has winged it on his own for Valentine’s Day before. One year he booked a romantic V-day vacation for two to Madison, Wisconsin. His mate at the time picked a fight before this trip, so James went on his own. “I treated myself to watching some college basketball in a college town, ordered the steak rare, and drank with cool strangers.” The pair didn’t end up staying together in the end anyhow.
A hopeless romantic, William Richardson found himself in Charlotte, North Carolina once upon a Valentine’s Day, “I was single and mad about it, but the irony of seeing Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers on Valentine’s Day was never lost on me.”
“I was super excited to see him perform, so much so that it outdid my normal despair at being single. There were a lot of couples there. I met up with a friend who was with his girlfriend. My friend has since passed away, so that’s a great memory of him.”
April Sanchez always has a plan for herself. “I decided to start treating myself more and more after I became single, because my relationships were missing romance and I decided I deserve romance even if I have to romance myself!”
Mid-February is no different for April when it comes to taking care of her own needs.
“This year I thought about treating myself to a spa day like I have before, but decided against it. The other option I was thinking was to check into a resort or a nice hotel for a couple of days, order room service and just relax. But I wasn’t sure if rooms would be properly disinfected so I decided against that and will just default to what I do best: day tripping in the Texas Hill Country and maybe stopping somewhere scenic for a picnic.”
I ask April how she chooses a spot. Her answer is, “I usually pick a direction rather than a destination and will drive until I find somewhere to explore. I love the areas around these towns: Spicewood, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Lago Vista and Johnson City... so many areas that are hidden and fun. I tend to keep it simple for a picnic such as pasta salad, sandwiches, fruit, and this time some sparkling wine (normally I’d stop to do a tasting at a winery, but not until after a vaccination).”
As for what truly does it for April about Hill Country, “I absolutely love it there. I come from the desert (El Paso), so the Hill Country is like another world for me. It has lots of trees and so many amazing scenic views. Of course there are also horses and sheep and goats and cows, which sounds funny, but I really like seeing them too. There’s so much of the area that hasn’t been torn up and turned into a city yet and it’s so close to Austin. “We all deserve it, especially after this past year.
Here’s another story to inspire you about a woman hitting the road on her own. One Valentine’s Day Angela Chan Stopa had a very bright idea. “I tried to do the sunrise one year at Lake Travis outside of Austin, Texas,” she recounts, “I drove from my college town of Denton three and a half hours away and stopped at a K-Mart to get some camping supplies, thinking I’d be all cool and outdoorsy. But I got there and it was freezing so I ended up at a Motel 6 for the night and just drove to the lake the next morning for the sunrise.” Then she had to drive right back and go to work in a restaurant serving food to couples out on dates.
Mai Trinh’s fiance has gifted her a “Getaway house” in the Shenandoah Valley for three days. He’ll stay at home and tend to her three children who haven’t been in physical school for months because of the coronavirus. Mai says receiving this gift of time to herself feels like “winning the lottery.” She was widowed before this romantic relationship and always spent Valentine’s Day with the kids. She says that planning for her three days alone is making her “giddy,” as if she’s getting set for a “solo honeymoon.” She’s bringing her own food and excited to do some writing (a book about self-care and resilience) and spend time in the woods “lighting her own fires” and walking with herself.
Alexandra Creswick is getting out this year and using her pandemic Valentine’s Day to feed one-hundred and fifty un-housed people in Los Angeles, concentrating on MacArthur Park and El Pueblo. “V-day is a Sunday in 2021, so we’re feeding everyone brunch.” Again, everyone needs some indulgence in these times, no matter how small, to nurture the soul.