Photo: Chloe Newton Tori Hendren and Zack Myers enjoy anytime they can get with each other, including studying at Cups. They reminisce about their favorite dates and first date.
The winter haze has set in for many students on the campus of Mississippi College. Homework has picked up; tests have begun. Students burrow into the library and the Commons to stay warm and to study. However, motivation slows as students realize their next break isn’t until mid-March.
Yet Valentine Day stands as a beacon of light to college students. It’s an excuse to stop studying and celebrate relationships, two things which students love to do. Couples either have been planning since last February or they are scrambling to find a restaurant that’s not Olive Garden.
Among those students making their plans are Tori Hendren (a junior English Lit. major from Millington, Tenn.) and Zack Myers (a junior electrical engineering student from Dothan, Ala.). While the two students seem paradoxical because of their majors, their personalities compliment each other quite well. They finish each other’s sentences and laugh while reminiscing about the past three and a half months of dating.
“One of my favorite [dates] is when we walked around the Brick Streets and played Cornhole. Then we went and just got food afterwards,” said Hendren.
“No,” said Myers laughing at his partner’s harmless mistake,” We went to Salsa’s first. Then, we went to Dollar General and got stuff to paint. We went to a little courtyard area on the Brick Streets, and we followed Bob Ross.”
“It went terrible,” Hendren jokingly said. To clarify, Hendren was referring to their painting skills not the date.
Like many couples on the Mississippi College campus, Hendren and Myers have dug deep into their innovative sides to create fun yet affordable dates. While the Clinton area doesn’t supply the most fun activities for dates (yet), several places outside of the city possess the perfect atmospheres for couples and friends to enjoy.
First up, the Fat Cat Art Cafe in Flowood creates opportunities to get one’s hands dirty and to tap into one’s creative side. Anyone can throw a pot or paint a canvas. Painting pre-made pottery can cost as low as $1 and painting on a canvas costs $20. In order to throw or sculpt pottery, appointments are recommended. Each costs $25 per person. It is an additional $5 to paint thrown pottery. While a couple tries to master their inner Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in the iconic pottery scene from Ghost, the Fat Cat Art Cafe is littered with actual cats for the enjoyment of all.
For the more active couple, Dance Applause Factory (DAF) and The Hangout might be a better fit (no pun intended) option. Old-souled couples and friends will enjoy DAF’s variety of dance classes. For the month of February, foxtrot (Mondays from 7-8pm), rumba (Thursdays from 7-8pm, and samba (Friday from 7-8pm) classes will be taught for couples to join. In addition, weekly dance parties, held on Friday nights from 8-10pm, are thrown. Each dancer must pay $10. These dance parties include ballroom, Latin, and swing dancing.
In contrast, for the couples and friend groups who love a good sweat, the rock walls at the Hangout are a great choice. Rather than traveling almost two hours to Red Bluff, the Hangout is conveniently located in Ridgeland. For $10, climbers get access to shoes, chalk, and the walls. However, the hours are limited from 6 to 8pm on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Valentine’s Day is notorious for being a holiday of last-minute gifts, and flowers are arguably the classiest gift to show love and appreciation. Greenbrook Flowers, a Jackson based florist, has operated since 1917. From daisies to chrysanthemums to violets and sunflowers (perfectly gifts for die hard Harry Styles fans), this florist will provide the perfect bouquet for any occasion.
Among the top Valentine gifts are chocolates. Food is a love language to many college students.
“The smell of chocolate is something that’s really sensual and nostalgic. All of these things come to play in our memory and emotions and our mind. For me, chocolate equates something to joy,” said Emmie King, owner and operator of Nandy’s Candy in Jackson.
King’s mother, Nancy, opened the candy store in 1980 with the intention of spreading joy and love to the Jackson area through everyone’s favorite candies. The business is stocked with chocolate strawberries, candy apples, chocolate-filled heart boxes, jelly bellies, and gummy bears. There is something that fits everyone’s budget.
Though it is the shortest month in days, February is the longest month for a college student. February stands as the only month in the entire school year that does not have a break. Valentine’s Day supplements the long, dark days of studying with a bit of cheer. It takes focus off of homework and studying and replaces it with showing love and appreciation for others.
King said, “We all know that Valentine’s Day is the day of love. Winter is long and dark, and [Valentine’s Day] is a light.”