Post by Misha
On Valentine’s Day a couple years back I took a trip with a good friend from work up to San Francisco to go to an Alessia Cara show and celebrate our shared existential loneliness. The afternoon after the concert we got Bahn Mis and wandered into Buena Vista park, and I insisted we take the unpaved shortcut to the top.
She was tired and annoyed by the steepness and the dirt, and it provoked our most serious conflict to date which was: she snapped at me once and I stopped talking and then we both cried. (Probably less about the conflict itself and more about the various internal and external stressors coming to a head in our lives, but still.)
Neither one of us said much as we ate our sandwiches. I was sure that she’d discovered the thing about me that made me unloveable and it was that I had tricked her into hiking.
After a long silence she asked,
“Do you think maybe you’re mad at me? Because, you know, it’s ok if you are.”
I didn’t know what to say.
She had misinterpreted my apprehension for anger, but had correctly assessed that I don’t know how to get upset with someone without worrying that it will ruin our relationship forever. So she invited me to be angry and let me know that she’d still be there afterwards. She didn’t tell me that I was angry, or that I should be, just invited me to consider the possibility that I might be. And that that would be ok.
We finished our sandwiches and then we held hands in the way that you do when you realize that another person somehow miraculously understands you and is still there next to you.
Since that day, we’ve asked each other a lot of variations of the same question:
“Do you think maybe you’re tired and don’t feel like going out? Because you know, it’s ok if you are.”
“Do you think maybe you’re depressed? Because, you know, it’s ok if you are.”
“Do you think maybe you want to eat at a different restaurant after looking at the menu even though we already sat down here? Because, you know, it’s ok if you do.”
“Do you think maybe you’re dissatisfied with the thing you’ve been working towards for the last 10 years? Because, you know, it’s ok if you are.”
On this largely arbitrary holiday, I invite you to celebrate the people in your life who give you permission to feel deeply, recklessly, with abandon, and hold your hand through all of it.