To my Valentine(s)...
Camilla blogs about how her friends have helped her through Valentine's Day this year.
In my birthday frenzy of the last few days I’d forgotten all about the dreaded V day – the candlelit day of doom that bulldozes through my birthday shenanigans every year. Alas, my inbox on Friday morning was a stark reminder - a heart shaped selection box of tenuously romantic marketing emails:
Re: “We love clients!”
Re: “Are you thinking of fundraising for someone special?”
Re: “Valentine's Day Speed Date from only £54 car rental per day!
Once the initial wave of nausea subsided, it actually got me thinking about the many, many Valentine’s days gone by that we have spent together…
Do you remember that time we sat in bed in our hoodies chatting all night, drinking questionable cocktails out of chipped mugs?
Or the time we went to that horrendous “lock and key party” but, in escaping the throng of testosterone-high students, crawled under a curtain in the club only to find and then gate-crash a great night.
Then the time we ate our way through that massive box of chocolates my (now ex) sent on the 13th February. Well after all, as he explained at the time, he couldn’t be buying me birthday chocolates on the 12th and then Valentine’s chocolates on the 14th as well. It made economic sense to kill both birds with one fondant filled stone on the interim day…
When I started writing this to you I knew I hated Valentine ’s Day, but thought I should probably get your perspective too. Your instant responses to my email just now are reassuring: “Just thinking about it makes me want to vom. It’s a pressure cooker of forced emotions all squeezed into one day, perpetuated by corporations to make everyone spend money!”.
The thing is, as I’ve been writing and reminiscing for this letter, I’ve started wondering if maybe it’s not so bad.
You see as a singleton (as I was this year, as per several previous), in my head it’s is a lonely 24 hours gazing at an empty letter box, answering the door to sign for next door’s flowers, whilst violins play in the background.
"...in my head it’s is a lonely 24 hours gazing at an empty letter box, answering the door to sign for next door’s flowers, whilst violins play in the background."
And yet, when I look back, it has never actually been like that because, just like every other day of the year, you’ve always been there. That’s the thing about you, the true loves of my life, you’re always just there.
You were there last week when I went through a bit of a scary haze of panic attacks and stress (in fact you drove up to Nottingham straight after work in Oxford, just to give me a hug), you collected my belongings when I broke up with my boyfriend so I didn’t have to see him, you argued with the insurance company for me when I was ill and had lost my voice, you came out at 9am on a Sunday morning to cheer for me as a ran a half marathon, in fact you just emailed me a picture of your dog looking ridiculous – I suppose you thought it would make me smile (it did).
Because, you, my best friends and my family are way cooler than one day a year, than overpriced roses and naff card inscriptions.
I feel lucky to have such amazing friends and relatives, it’s reassuring to know that someone’s there. I know that for many people, at times, Mind is that buddy who’s got their back.
"I know that for many people, at times, Mind is that buddy who’s got their back."
So that’s one of the reasons that this year we spent the dreaded 14th February traipsing across the countryside. Why you abandoned your romantic plans and instead dusted off your walking boots to walk across the fields with me.
Because I’m training to take on the Mind 3000s. Through the 24 hour trek in May, I hope to contribute to the £50,000 fundraising target we’re aiming for, to help Mind be there for people who need them.
As a Mind supporter as well as employee, this charity means a lot to me and I see every day what it means to others. Whether that’s through the Local Minds across the country providing anything from training and therapy to support groups. Through the online support community Elefriends where people can make life changing friendships and talk to people who know what they’re going through. Or at the end of the Infoline when they need information. Quite simply – it’s a big lovely network of vital support.
So to you my nearest and dearest – thank you for everything. Thank you for yet another year being my hot dates.
I flipping love you so very much!
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