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It is time for Valentine’s Day, which, is actually, one of my favorite holidays. I love that our friends Mike and Stephanie Adams send out Valentine’s cards instead of Christmas cards. It is so nice to get a hug in the mail from them once a year. But, walking around for the last few weeks, I have been amazed at how many things in the big-box land are aimed at Valentine’s Day: candy, clothing, toys, food, cards, baskets … it is overwhelming.

Perhaps the best advice about Valentine’s Day came to me from a high-school writing teacher. He was recently re-married to another teacher in the building, and they were in that blush of new love, where they still did all sorts of romantic things and wanted to be together all the time.

“Buy a book of poems,” he instructed the young men in our class. “Read it, find one that means something to you, and then write an inscription in the front, telling her how much you love her and for her to read whatever page the poem you picked is on.”

I think he probably helped out many young men over the years with this oh-so-difficult problem of Valentine’s Day.

This is a holiday that Jock punts, invariably year after year. He tries but he is just not wired for it. After a fairly disastrous year when Valentine’s Day fell on the same day as his weekly pool game (and he mistakenly thought everyone else was going to show up for the game), he has just reverted to “whatever you want to do, we will do on that day.” It seems like a safe enough response. But it has made me start thinking about what it is that I really want for Valentine’s Day.

In theory, it should be a day when we as a couple put each other first ahead of other priorities in our lives and do something romantic—but, really, shouldn’t everyday be like that?

“Well, what would the Live Local Valentine look like?’ Jock asked. He was fishing for hints about what we should do.

The more I thought about it, a Live Local Valentine isn’t a thing to purchase or even an event, per se. I realized what I wanted was a chance to fully express my love for you, Wilmington. I know that I am a contrary, overworked, stressed-out, off-kilter person with a vision of a world that does not truly exist. Yet, every week you inspire me. So this week, I wanted to talk about what it is that I love about you, our fair city.

I love the second week of April when the whole area bursts into a beautiful sea of color from the azalea blooms.

I love that 52 weeks a year I can go see a live stage show here—even during a hurricane or a snow storm. I love each and every person who is part of this amazing theatre community that makes all that possible. And I am so grateful all of Wilmington’s thespians share themselsves and their work. Thank you.

I love sunrises at Wrightsville Beach and sunsets over the Riverwalk.

I love Connie Nelson and the incredible group of people at the CVB who work so hard to market you for tourists to come here and keep our economy thriving.

I love that movies are made here. Even more, I love that B movies are made here because they are sometimes more fun. I love that K-Fed came here to be on “One Tree Hill” and when he gave my dad the “Don’t you know who I am?” shitick at the bookstore, my dad asked if they knew each other from a class Daddy taught at UNCW.

I love Cinematique. Going to the opulent world of Thalian Hall to watch a film made for adults (documentary, foreign or independent) and drink a glass of wine is an experience that just can’t be beat. The Shakespeare Club at Thalian Hall (which plans to show every film adaptation of Shakespeare ever on the big screen) has given me a reason to go on living for the next 14 years.

I love that, for the last 20 years, the two rites of passage for the creative community here really haven’t changed that much: You either live in the Carolina Apartments, or you drink at Lula’s. Many people do both.

I love ballast stone streets.

I love the oak trees—especially the canopy on Market Street.

I love that Wilmington is becoming known for being dog-friendly both for residents and tourists.

I love the graveyards. I wish I had more time to spend wandering them like I did 20 years ago. Though visiting with Thomas Godfrey at his grave in St. James Churchyard is still one of my favorite things to do.

I love Ben Steelman and his relentless efforts to promote literacy, writers and all things book related in our area.

I love that every single day of my life I talk to someone about their book of poetry, film, novel, play, art show, album, new band or renewed interest in visual art.

I love the public art around town.

I love the Kenan Fountain on Fifth and Market. I love sitting on its benches and watching the traffic go by.

I love driving around Greenfeild Lake with my dad, no matter what time of year—but especially on the way to Shakespeare on the Green.

I love Ann Brennan and the Cameron Art Museum. I thank the gods for her.

I love downtown’s Historic District. Growing up in an historic home and owning an historic building dowtown are two of the best and most rewarding parts of my life. How incredible to have so much history around us everyday, literally at our fingertips.

I love the curve on Airlie Road where the Intracoastal Waterway is suddenly visible.

I love WHQR and all the local musicians George Schreibner manages to get on the air. I love the wonderful local news coverage that Rachel Lewis-Hilburn makes comprehensive.

I love the Bleumenthal Wildflower Preserve.

I love carnivorous plants.

I love the carriage tour.

I love the gem of a theater tucked away in Level Five.

I love the farmer’s market.

I love that this community has embraced local purchasing and food security.

I love going to The Scoop and ordering “The Gwenyfar” float (a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of black cherry in a Coca Cola)—because, just like Larry David, I am thrilled to be on the menu.

I love seeing Bob Jenkins giving a walking tour.

I love you. I love that you inspire me to write the Live Local column every week. I love that it sparks debate. I love getting to live this life—here in this town. I love that I get to get up every morning and go to the best job in the world. I love that I get to talk to you every day.

Thank you so very, very much for this.

Gwenyfar Rohler is the author or ‘Promise of Peanuts,’ which can be bought at Old Books on Front Street, with all monies donated to local nonprofit Full Belly Project.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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