The Best Kind of Valentine

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 2/21/14)

Valentine’s Day has always been one of those holidays about which I have mixed feelings.  In the years when I was single, it could pass without my hardly noticing.  Those years when I may have been attached in some way, perhaps I received flowers or we went out for dinner, but I don’t ever recall it being a huge priority.  The red and pink hearts always made me throw up in my mouth a little. I’ve never been one for super-cutesy stuff, and it always seemed like that’s what Valentine’s Day was selling – an over-priced, cartoony, pastel-hued version of love.  Meh.

Recently, however, I’ve taken part in V-Day, which is a global movement to help end violence against women and children.  It’s organized by the hugely inspirational Eve Ensler, and for many years centered around worldwide productions of her play “The Vagina Monologues”, in which I’ve appeared for the last three years in Los Angeles.  For the past two years, the V-Day movement has also included a rising on Valentine’s Day, where people around the world gather in the streets to dance.  Called “One Billion Rising”, it’s simultaneously a demonstration against violence and a joyous coming-together.

One of my closest friends in LA, Kristina Mitchell, was the organizer for the rising in downtown Los Angeles, which was part of a full day of risings throughout the city.  I agreed to photograph the event, which began with a flashmob dancing at LA Live, then continued with everyone marching through the streets of downtown to City Hall where several speakers, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jane Fonda, were to speak.

Last year I attended the event solo, as hubs was in Haiti with the Haiti School Project, helping to build a school for a community that was particularly ravaged by the earthquakes there.  Not to slight the man, but what a fun and raucous day of celebrating the vagina!  I spent the entire day and evening surrounded by some seriously fabulous women (and a few men), dancing and speaking out about how to end violence NOW.  My heart was full with all the love that day.

valentine1This year, hubs was home and wanted to participate. We took the Metro downtown and met up with the group at City Hall, where we mingled with men, women, students, and even a dog who were all serious about supporting our global sisterhood.  Hubs even wore a pink shirt to get in the spirit of things.  Kristina emceed the event that included speeches by the Mayor, the incredibly fabulous and eloquent Jane Fonda, and several others including actress Frances Fisher and author Marianne Williamson (perhaps most well-known for saying “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” – powerful words, indeed). The event ended with the flashmob dance and a symbolic breaking of the chains that imprison us – a paper chain comprised of the names of those that have abused or mistreated us.

valentine2

valentine3Hubs and I then departed and spent some time simply wandering around downtown LA.  What a treasure trove of little goodies here and there!  We wandered into the Grand Central Market, which has been operating in LA for nearly 100 years.  The newly-opened DTLA Cheese inside the market called to us, and after sampling several mouth-watering cheeses, we bought over a pound to take home.  After a trip to IKEA (what Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without a spin around the showroom and some $1 fro yo?) and a quick visit with some friends, we headed home to cuddle up for the night.

valentine4I put together a platter of our cheeses with some other tasty treats such as marinated olives, fresh strawberries and truffle honey, and we tucked into it while watching the Beatles salute that had been patiently waiting on the DVR for a week.  The plan was to nibble then make dinner, but after singing along for two hours and eating ALL of the cheese, we decided to simply call it a night.

Best kind of Valentine’s Day, if you ask me.  I’m a lucky gal.

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