Another winter day / Has come and gone away / In Paris and Rome / But I want to go home… / And I’m surrounded by / A million people, I / Still feel alone / Just let me go home.
Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, whether I’m single or seeing someone, but this year I got hit with a triple whammy: I’m single, so no special someone to spend it with; most of my friends are either in relationships or aren’t big fans of the holiday; and I would be all alone in my hotel in DC for Valentine’s Day, where I couldn’t even rustle up a group of friends to do something. Realizing way ahead of time that I was going to be miserable, I decided I was going to treat myself with a trip to one of the most romantic countries in the world, where I’ve always wanted to go: France.
We hadn’t started studying a foreign language in elementary school, but I already knew I wanted to learn French. I checked out various French books/tapes for kids from the local library, and on that special day in 5th grade where they brought foreign language teachers in to do a mini-lesson on each our choices for middle school (Spanish, French, and German), I was way ahead of the game – welcoming the visiting French teacher with a “Bonjour! Comment allez-vous? Je m’appelle Laura et j’adore le francais!” (Come on, longtime readers, did you really expect any less from Little Miss Overachiever here?)
I studied French for eight years in middle school and high school, and after a break in college, picked it back up my senior year just for fun. I opted not to do a real study abroad, since I had transferred colleges after freshman year and didn’t want to even further cut short my time at Cornell. However, the summer after my sophomore year, I hadn’t found an internship and break was drawing near… so I found a 6 week study abroad in Copenhagen that gave me a bit of the European experience, but without the language I wanted to practice speaking. Though my classmates and I did
So what better way to celebrate my favorite holiday of the year than to go to the country I had been so eager to visit for years? Actually, one better way – combine it with a visit to Switzerland, the French-speaking country I’ve been eager to visit for two years, ever since I read The Geography of Bliss and heard what a rule-abiding country it is, unappealing to those who like a little variety and rebellion, but ranked one of the happiest in the world by those who actually live there. (As a matter of fact, my friend Nicole is moving there in the fall for work, and I am so jealous.) Combining a trip to spend a day working out of my company’s Geneva office with a ski trip to the country that’s been at the top of my bucket list = the perfect Valentine’s present to myself.
But in all my planning, I failed to take into account something I really should have foreseen. While I was ostensibly doing this trip in the name of Valentine’s Day, I would actually be flying back to DC on Valentine’s Day. I’d be sleeping alone in an airport hotel in Madrid on “Valentine’s Day Eve” (okay, so I wouldn’t have been sleeping with someone anywhere else either, but in Madrid I couldn’t even go socialize at the hotel bar, since I don’t speak Spanish, and I couldn’t call any friends from there), I’d be spending all day alone on a transatlantic flight with only books and movies for company (not even any coworkers to talk to like I would have had with a regular day at the office), and I’d be getting back to DC mid-afternoon, just to hole up in my hotel room.
I’m trying to make the best of it, I really am. A stop at the duty free store in Madrid yielded a few bottles of rioja that I’m currently toting in my suitcase – so if worst comes to worst and I can’t find anything to do, I can drink the night away while watching The Bachelor. Okay, so that’s actually usually my idea of a great Monday night on the road… but Valentine’s Day is about celebrating relationships (romantic and platonic), and it’s killing me to be spending the whole day alone.
What are you up to for Valentine’s Day? Will I have any fun if I go to a bar by myself tonight, or will it be all couples who will be too wrapped up in each other to make new friends (rightfully so, I will note)? Or even if you don’t have advice, feel free to just leave some comment love and let’s celebrate my favorite holiday together 🙂