From special sunset-watching spots to a jump rope lover, stories of Valentine’s Day from The Occidental

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Valentines quad table
A table on the quad distributing pre-ordered candy grams for students' valentines at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental

Shreya Srinivasan (junior):

Valentine’s in elementary school: my brother entertains my mother in bed while my father and I make pancakes in the kitchen. Dad doesn’t let me near the stove, so I helpfully stir the already-mixed batter. When we bring her breakfast and flowers, Mom pretends to be surprised.

Valentine’s today: My father rushes to buy flowers. My mother and I laugh about it over the phone. I’m gifted an inside joke folded into the crease of a paper heart. Little gestures of love have made a lifetime of it.

So, to my family and friends: I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines days
Alexia Leggin (senior) wears pink and Britney Aboagye (senior) wears black as they chat on the Tiger Cooler patio at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental

Olivia Fishman (sophomore):

To the loves I never had, and the ones that are still here, I hope you spend this day with great cheer. Wherever you are — far or near — my heart is not in fear.

I dream of the future, and what each year could be.

For now I wait until the time is right.

When a new door opens and spills that love potion.

So happy Valentine’s Day to all — I hope my words are clear.

kate and taylor
Kate Bown* and Taylor Rokala (first years) both wear heart-shaped sunglasses and festive outfits for Valentine’s Day at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental
*Kate Bown is a photographer for The Occidental.

Angela Guglielmino (junior):

My life revolves around you. You are my reason for being and my energizer on a slow day. I feel most creative with you. I feel most myself with you. While some may question your legitimacy, I will defend you until I am weak in the knees. You understand I am not flashcards or dark academia. I am joy. When I release you, you always come back. I step on you, and you do not hold a grudge. Together we create electric wind. We are infinite in the sky. With you, I dance in the air with cotton candy clouds — mundane life suspended as you hold my hand.

Thank you, jump rope, for helping me get a handle on life. Jump rope tricks are my free voice, unafraid of a miss. All I want in life is to speak.

Emma Cho (first year):

For this Valentine’s Day, I want to share a bit about someone I admire.

Today she wore dark pink cargo pants, a light pink tee and a matching pink KN95 mask. Her earrings were gold hoops made of hearts, and her normally-black hair glowed a vibrant red under the sun — thanks to her cracking open a box of hair dye the night before. Hot pink eyeliner was drawn carefully along the upper lash line of each eye. The soundtrack of her day was BTS’ album “Love Yourself: Answer.” Not just because it is a legendary, no-skips album, but because the very love that BTS sings about is the love she practices today and every day: self love.

It is not a simple practice. It is troublesome and it is healing. It requires time, patience and determination, and it’s different for everyone. It is not a flawless practice; failure is inevitable, but you must not allow it to win.

She started small: complimenting herself, hyping herself up in the mirror and wearing clothes that made her feel good. Congratulating herself on the little things. It eventually became a natural practice and something that, from time-to-time can be a challenge, but is an important part of who she is. I’m proud of her.

Valentines day
Frankie Vega (first year) shows off her pink apparel to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental

Matthew Vickers (first year):

St. Valentine is known for his holiday along with his beheading. His martyrdom was the opportunity to make love possible for others, yet his death, in fact, tells us much more about love. Sometimes love is far more finite than we realize. Perhaps Valentine realized this when his head was made separate from his body. But once we find the right person — familial, platonic, romantic — it is everlasting and can in special circumstances become a matter of folklore and trivia. Unlike the sacrifice of Saint Valentine, our modern rituals of expressing love— mediocre chocolates and roses that are condemned to die within a week — appear to be far more appropriate.

Kayla Heinze (senior)

I look over at you in the driver’s seat. The windows are rolled down while you play the playlist I made in a frenzy just minutes before you picked me up. We’re in your silver Prius that I make fun of you for loving so much, but I am fond of it now too.

I’m taking you to my special sunset-watching spot, reserved for my inner circle only.

A year ago I had never been in love. Now I’ve done it twice.

As far as first Valentines go, you’re a pretty good one. The simple moments hit me hardest, when we’re doing nothing and I’m still having fun — when we watch the sun go down over the city and play in the dirt like kids.

I gave up trying to understand or control the winds of fate long ago. But today I have to thank them for picking me up after past disappointments and for bringing you to my door with a friendly smile and a nervous laugh just a few short months ago.

Kayla Heinze (senior) wears a Valentine’s Day inspired outfit to celebrate with the Newspaper crew during Monday night editorial at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental

Mia Anzalone (sophomore)

To my doggies back at home. The beings I miss more than the Koʻolau Mountains on a long drive down the Pali Highway. I hope you are sunbathing in the Hawaiian sun and enjoying your homemade treats. No chocolate for you this Valentine’s day (or any after that), but nothing is sweeter than my love for you. Lani, I hope you catch some flies today and Chewy, though I don’t ethically agree with your hobby of murdering lizards, I see the appeal. I hope the moon shines bright for your evening walk around the block tonight. You both deserve the best day of love. I miss you, but I’ll see you soon!

Divya Prakash (junior)

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone I don’t know. I’m usually pretty introverted, so that’s most people. For a year and a half I only talked to people I knew at times I had scheduled, as I planned weekly Zoom calls with my friends and socially-distanced walks with my neighbors. My love for my friends is well-worn, like an old pair of blue jeans that never stopped fitting. Memory and intimacy pave the way for conversations that are equal parts wandering, languid and easy.

But now we’re all back, and my constant awkwardness means that my foot is most frequently located in my mouth. I zone out while walking and forget to wave back to people; I stutter when saying my own name at the Green Bean. Someone yelled “Hi” to me when I wasn’t expecting it, and in my surprise and alarm I responded with “Happy birthday.” Talking with strangers and acquaintances is more akin to slipping into a brand-new pair of red Converse. It’s uncomfortable and exciting, simultaneously putting a pep in each step and making me more aware of it. I’m excited to be surprised by people again, to have conversations that bring me to the limits of my own experience, where I can’t make assumptions about who you are and what you believe. Even if I don’t know you yet, I love you. We are interconnected, made from the same substance, and I am grateful to share this space with you.

Valentines Day
Olivia Sullivan (first year) wears a heart skirt and accessorizes with a rose to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 14, 2022. Grace Meadows/The Occidental