15.) Valentine's Day

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15.) Valentine's Day

Love. What is it really? Is it a feeling, an action? Is it both? I plopped down in my usual spot at lunch—without Marilyn since she had to be sick, leaving me alone on this wretched day in American culture. I opened my bag of BBQ chips and scratched at a crusty stain near the bottom of my stupid red top. I seriously don't know why I chose to wear this color on Valentine's Day, given my current circumstance. Perhaps as an outward display of my bleeding heart. Maybe Chris really has made me emo, like Mom had been labeling me lately.

I looked ahead. Two Frenchie couples sat at a table adorned with red balloons and giant twin teddybears. Roman, the six-foot, blue-eyed, male-model who tongue-kissed me last year in the backseat of a friend's car, wrapped a muscular arm around a pretty brunette. And his buddy, Jason, the French, teenage Tom Cruise made out with a fluffy-curled blonde.

I balked like the Grinch would at such a mushy display of public affection. Isn't love supposed to be good or something? Isn't it supposed to make you feel good? Well, whoever sold us that BS is about to get a case, because I don't feel good, and I wanna sue his ass.

"Hey, Tash!" Isabelle, decked in a hot pink shirt and white skirt, skipped toward me as if hopping on invisible clouds. Like a Valentine's Day bag-lady, she held flowers, a teddybear, a big card, and a heart-shaped chocolate box. "Happy Valentine's Day!" She glowed as she sat beside me. "Here, I got you a card!" She handed me the large envelope.

I faked a smile as I took it. "Thanks, Isabelle."

Her forehead creased. "Oh my God, are you okay, Tash?"

Even though I felt numb, tears welled in my eyes. "I haven't spoken to Chris in nine days."

She slammed her teddybear on the ground. "What an asshole! Screw him, Tash! Come here." She yanked me into her embrace. In her tight, skinny-armed squeeze, I couldn't help but cry; cry at how messed up this relationship with Chris had become; cry at how much he pulled me in and then pushed me away, playing with my heart like it was a damn game of tug-of-war.

"Oh, please don't cry, Tash."

"But I don't understand," I coughed out. "He told me he loved me."

She released me from her semi-chokehold. "He did? Then what the hell, why is he going ghost on you?"

"I don't know." I sniffled pathetically as I leaned my back against the wall. The kid was more confusing than a rubric cube.

She picked up her teddybear and dusted it off. "Why don't you go to his house?"

My skin crawled at the notion. It's crossed my mind a few times over this period of fugitive Chris, but Marilyn kept talking me out of it. To her, Chris and I were over after that third day of extra silence following the brief, beach call and it was best if I just let him go. But love makes you stubborn.