A couple of years ago today I announced my Facebook friends that I am spending Valentine’s Day with my first love. The comments received varied from praises for marrying my first love and still living “happily ever after”, to more concerned private messages about my marriage, asking me if I was traveling that weekend to Greece.

Neither of them was correct. My “first love” is not the love of my life, and I wasn’t travelling that weekend either. In fact, like any other love story, my relationship with my “first love” is complicated. Every time I try to not think of the bad and ugly, the effort (and there is quite an effort) I put into our “relationship” but focus on the positive outcomes only. But how sweet the results are and how satisfied I am every single time!

When my husband saw the Facebook post, he wrote: “how jealous I am that you devote this Valentine’s Day to your first love!”. His comment sparked more controversial reactions from my Facebook friends. It was not the first time he would tell me, half joke – half serious, that it was not good for our marriage that I spend roughly four hours every two weeks with my “first love”, while he didn’t get the same amount of my attention time. Truth is I don’t really enjoy it, but I can’t help it either. I love the smell of a clean house: fresh towels, sparkling flooring, spotless sinks, polished furniture. Yes, my “first love” is cleaning. Our “relationship” started when I was only four and my mother asked me to help her dust the furniture. The love of cleaning grew over time, like any other relationship, and sometimes it takes the form of a ritual that brings me peace, while other times it is an obsessive way of controlling things I can’t, like Valentine’s Day and the atmosphere of an extremely commercialized celebration of romance.

I wish Valentine’s Day was on a weekend this year. I would not leave the house, turn the radio on, glance on social media posts, definitely I wouldn’t go shopping or out for dinner. “One more day” I tell myself as I step out of the house on my way to work. “Everything will go back to normal tomorrow. No more big paper hearts at the local library, people wearing red, white and pink, Happy Valentine’s wishes at the grocery store (how does the cashier know if one is single or not), balloons and cards, plush toys and chocolates… lots of chocolate.”

I make my way through the busy streets and think of my today’s evening plans: “I will return from work and clean the house. And then, once everything is spotless, I will relax and enjoy a glass of white wine, raise my glass and toast to all who are single by choice or by circumstance.”