Candid Candies: Gettysburg Heart to Hearts on Valentine’s Day

Gettysburg students compare their stories of love to typical Valentine's Day candies (Photo courtesy of Chris Sloan via Flickr).

Gettysburg students compare their stories of love to typical Valentine’s Day candies (Photo courtesy of Chris Sloan via Flickr).

By Julia Chin, Staff Writer

“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates,’” Forrest Gump famously declared. “You never know what you’re gonna get.” I think people are a lot like that as well, especially in love. Love comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and no love story is ever told twice in history. Yet, whether we are in love, out of love, or searching for the meaning of love, we cannot deny that it is the common thread of humanity that holds our world together.

So what is love? With Valentine’s Day approaching, I conversed with a batch of Gettysburg’s students who whipped up some unique love stories, each reminiscent of a different candy brand name according to the holiday’s conventions of stereotypical sweetness.

Tag yourself if you personally relate to any of these confectioner’s selection of conversations. Here are some heart to hearts straight from Gettysburg this February 14.


Daphne Ellis '19 celebrates her engagement to her sweetheart, Travis Sowell (Photo courtesy of Daphne Ellis).

Daphne Ellis ’19 celebrates her engagement to her sweetheart, Travis Sowell (Photo courtesy of Daphne Ellis).


In her sophomore year, Daphne Ellis ‘19 was stopped outside of Kline Theatre by a boy from her acting class who asked about her monologue. This past summer, Ellis found herself in a rose garden in British Columbia with the same boy, her best friend, who had a very different question to ask her … and she said yes!

Like the leaf-shaped, emerald ring that now crowns Ellis’ left hand, this Gettysburg love story is, in a word, organic. Years before he popped the question, Ellis’ now-fiance was just a close friend who shared her love for English and theatre. To this day, he is still the only person she knows—Dr. D’Addario excluded—who loves Shakespeare more than she does.

Then, “spring semester of my junior year (his senior year), we just kind of fell in love,” Ellis said. “Neither of us wanted that, or relationships. He was graduating and set to go back to the West Coast.”

Yet when his plane took off after graduation, Travis Sowell ‘18 wasn’t on it. In a change of plans, he drove Ellis home to Maine, proposed to her that summer, and decided to relocate to Gettysburg for his fiance’s senior year.

The college sweethearts dance while washing dishes, argue about the tunes of musical intervals from Broadway shows, and inspire one another to be better people.

“Life is beautiful with Travis,” Ellis reflected. She thinks that “in a strong relationship, every day can feel like Valentine’s Day,” and encourages everyone to “nurture your friendships and love boldly.”


Matthew Canonizado '21 tells about his sour experience swing dancing (Photo courtesy of Matthew Canonizado).

Matthew Canonizado ’21 tells about his sour experience swing dancing (Photo courtesy of Matthew Canonizado).


“She dropped like a stone,” Matthew Canonizado ‘21 spilled.

“From here,” he gestures with a snap of fingers around his forehead, “to here,” snapping again at a concerningly lower altitude.

With the annual Snowball swing dance and close interaction with the opposite sex closing in on the periphery, Canonizado is still guilt-ridden by his last encounter with women. A frequent attendee of Swing Club since his first semester at Gettysburg, Canonizado’s got the moves down, but there is one thing he can’t swing: surprise.

So when his talented partner went for a professional dip into his arms at the last dance, Canonizado’s confidence and his leading lady went down hard.

“I was so sorry! I offered my hands to help her up, but she didn’t take them!” he lamented.

If you see this unlucky-in-love lad at Snowball this Valentine’s weekend, I encourage you to take advantage of his suave swing dance skills. But please, ladies, no more dips.


Abigail Richard '21 and her valentine, Chris DeMusis ‘21, have a romance straight out of Middle-earth (Photo courtesy of Abigail Richard).

Abigail Richard ’21 and her valentine, Chris DeMusis ‘21, have a romance straight out of Middle-earth (Photo courtesy of Abigail Richard).


Amin mela lle. That’s how Abigail Richard ‘21 tells her boyfriend “I love you” in Elvish.

Environmental Studies major Richard and her English major valentine, Chris DeMusis ‘21, share their love for theatre arts, so it’s no surprise that their relationship seems like it came directly out of the pages of a Tolkien novel, which they admittedly read to one another. If most love stories are princess fairy tales, Richard’s is an endearingly nerdy fantasy.

“We play Dungeons and Dragons, recite Shakespeare, discuss Middle English (and Middle-earth), and flirt through play lines sometimes,” Richard said.

Even in the harsh winter weather, she finds time to knit her valentine a scarf with the One Ring inscription in Elvish characters. Can anyone say “heart-warming” in Elvish?


Thea Toocheck '21 prefers to ditch the Valentines for her Galentines, Julia Trigg and Valentine Lynch (Photo courtesy of Thea Toocheck).

Thea Toocheck ’21 prefers to ditch the Valentines for her Galentines, Julia Trigg and Valentine Lynch (Photo courtesy of Thea Toocheck).


Who needs a valentine when you have galentines? Certainly not Thea Toocheck ‘21, whose best February 14 memories are from the “galentines” parties of years past and her two best friends, Julia Trigg and Valentine Lynch.

The three girls became thick as thieves in the sixth grade, and Toocheck affirms that “the best things come in threes!”

With bonds as strong as these, the three musketeers—as their running group chat is named—are never in lack of love, and Toocheck proudly recalls how the three girls took turns as each other’s prom dates throughout their last two years of high school together.

Approaching their ninth anniversary, the trio loves adventure, tea parties, and above all, one another. A published author, Toocheck has made it known that her novels in The Transcendence Series feature Trigg and Lynch as the protagonist’s best friends. With Trigg at Penn State University and Lynch at University of Toronto, this Gettysburg Galentine still calls her two soul sisters at least every month to catch up on life.

It’s just like they say: “True friends are never apart. Maybe in distance but never in heart.”


Erick Cabrera ‘21 stole a kiss and the heart of his Valentine, Ayoria Treviño (Photo courtesy of Erick Cabrera).

Erick Cabrera ‘21 stole a kiss and the heart of his Valentine, Ayoria Treviño (Photo courtesy of Erick Cabrera).


According to Erick Cabrera ‘21, “She had this weird boyfriend that nobody liked at school.”

By “she,” Cabrera is referring to his girlfriend of five years, Ayoria Treviño, back when she was someone else’s girlfriend.

“Everyone in Latin America kisses one another to say hello,” Cabrera explained, so maybe he was just being friendly as usual when he walked up to Treviño by their high school lockers and kissed her. On the mouth. Sitting next to her boyfriend. Obviously Treviño pointed out the last fact in concern, and Cabrera nonchalantly responded, “I don’t care.”

Treviño later broke up with said boyfriend, but after a month, the Erick x Ayoria ship still hadn’t sailed. It wasn’t until word of mouth got back to Cabrera that he realized his crush wanted him to officially ask her out as his girlfriend. A man of action, Cabrera marched up to Treviño, who began to cry of relief when he said, “Do I even need to ask you?” and then wordlessly sealed their relationship status.

Like all the classic romances, the story of Cabrera’s Valentine began with a kiss.


Rose Martus ‘19 has a lot of love for herself and for her new hairdo (Photo courtesy of Rose Martus).

Rose Martus ‘19 has a lot of love for herself and for her new hairdo (Photo courtesy of Rose Martus).


Roses are red, violets are blue. Rose loves herself and her new hairdo.

Just around Valentine’s Day last year, everything was not coming up roses for Rose Martus ‘19, and the despondent Music and Mathematics double major decided she needed to change her tune. Liberation came in the form of salon shears, and Martus returned to campus one February morning with a significant (and stylish) subtraction of hair plus a new attitude!

Yet, contrary to popular belief, Martus does not endorse the term “pixie cut.”

“It takes what can be a masculine haircut and turns it into something inherently feminine,” she said. “I do not have this haircut to be feminine but rather because it is more masculine. Taking that agency away from me is frustrating.”

“Despite that,” she continued, “this haircut has been absolutely liberating, and I have been more confident in my everyday life.”

Martus sticks it to the pixie, reminding us to love ourselves, for ourselves, everyday.


Brittney Sedgwick ‘21 has a love that's out of this world (Photo courtesy of Brittney Sedgwick).

Brittney Sedgwick ‘21 has a love that’s out of this world (Photo courtesy of Brittney Sedgwick).


Brittney Sedgwick ‘21 is in love with the stars and the surrounding universe.

“I started looking up one night, and then one night became every night,” astronomy lover Sedwick recalled. “I love everything about space: its vastness, its reflection of the past, its use in symbolism, and the fact that the same celestial carbon is present in each of us.”

Her favorite celestial body is the planet Venus, associated with the Roman goddess of sensuality and femininity.

“I like to think that I see myself in her,” Sedgwick mused.

Unsurprisingly, “Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine ranks high on her love songs playlist; however, one of the soprano’s favorite Valentine’s Day memories was at a recital a few February 14ths ago, when she sang a song titled “Tonight You Belong to Me” with a boy whom she started dating shortly after their performance.

But beyond sentimental duets and her passion for the cosmos, Sedgwick’s personal poetry is the shining star of her romantic repertoire.

She wrote, “The stars are usually my firmest frame of reference, but like their pinhole presence in the Pennsylvania sky, and their dimming to the morning sun, the luminescence of my memory is overshadowed by you.”



While we’ve all gone through our own trials and tribulations in love, it’s a universally accepted fact that we learn from the best: our parents.

One junior could barely stop cracking up as he recalled one of his parents’ first dates before they were married.

“Once he was on a date with my mom, driving a motorcycle on a highway, and they ran out of gas,” he began. “As a city person, my mom just ran out of solutions: there’s no gas station around, there’s no one around to help, etcetera. My father, on the other hand, is very reckless and creative. My mom started crying”– the son himself was practically crying with laughter at this point, but he finished the story anyway – “but my father said, ‘Don’t cry. If we really ran out of gas, I would just pee into the gas tank, so the oil would flow on top and the not-so-efficient air pump would suck the top fluid, so we would have just enough gas to make it home!’”

So maybe love isn’t always romantic, but the things that make it goofy and ridiculous are what make it unique and special to each couple. From our home here in Gettysburg to theirs in China, we wish this student’s parents Qíngrén jié kuàilè: Happy Valentine’s Day!


Aaron Thompson ‘19 is a self-diagnosed hopeless romantic (Photo courtesy of Aaron Thompson).

Aaron Thompson ‘19 is a self-diagnosed hopeless romantic (Photo courtesy of Aaron Thompson).


“Baby, don’t hurt me no more.” This was how Aaron Thompson ‘19 immediately responded to my inquiry, “What is love?”

In all seriousness, Thompson recalled asking his mother this question “when I was having an angsty teen moment (TM), and she got me this book that she got from her mom when she was a child called Love is a Special Way of Feeling.”

From this he observed “love being like the way we feel when we help a hurt bird, talk to someone and they want to listen, or notice unexpected beautiful things like a flower no one has seen yet. It can start when we share our thoughts with others or when we say nothing at all and someone understands how we feel.”

Perhaps these sweet sentiments may be attributed to Thompson’s self-endowed title of “hopeless romantic,” or, for the purposes of this article, your classic Valentine’s Day dum dum, a sucker for sappy romance.

“Not to say that I’m pining away over here or throwing myself at anyone who glances my way,” Thompson reassured me, “but if we [Thompson and any other Gettysburg beau] lock eyes in Servo, there is a moment where I think ‘Hey, this could be a thing.’”

Fortunately, he gets over it pretty quickly, joking, “I don’t take it personally when they don’t propose right there.”

Though Thompson remains “single as a pringle over here,” he wants any future boyfriend to know that “our first date can be Yuengs and Wings because I don’t care about this whole ‘eat a salad on the first date’ nonsense” and reminds his friends that he will gladly accept chocolate any day of the year.

“Dark chocolate with sea salt caramel,” he specified, “for those of you taking notes out there.”


Vanessa Case ‘19 is a feline fanatic and loves her three sweethearts (Photo courtesy of Vanessa Case).

Vanessa Case ‘19 is a feline fanatic and loves her three sweethearts (Photo courtesy of Vanessa Case).


Sometimes pets are just better than people and infinitely easier to love as well. Vanessa Case ‘19 does have a valentine, but her cats will always have a special place in her heart, and her boyfriend constantly teases her about embodying the crazy cat lady stereotype.Before making any future commitments to adopting more cats, Case said that she’s content to have three for the moment.

“Abby is ‘my cat’ in that she seems to have chosen me to be her person,” Case confided of her favorite pet, with whom she is often wont to “have a full conversation in cat.”

She gave a brief summary of her two other feline friends, Gibbs and Finn. The former “is a big boy, he’s super fluffy, and he will occasionally try to sleep on my face,” the latter, “a goofball, but very people-attached. If you’re the only person home, he will want to be beside you the entire time, and will cuddle with you. He’s a big sweetheart.”

Perhaps we’ll have to include a doughnut dozen selection of Valentine’s puns next year, as Case added that her favorite breed of cats is a Munchkin.

“They’re essentially the dachshunds of the cat world,” she said, “and they’re so cute!” No kitten!



Admittedly, every batch of chocolate has its fair share of nuts. While there are some aspects of Valentine’s Day that people adore, there are just as many sides of it that those same lovers of the holiday snicker at.

Martus, for example, considers it “a ploy to get people to buy chocolate and stuffed animals, rather than truly appreciating people.”

Case said the holiday “can be a bit over-commercialized,” and Thompson went so far as to call the contemporary February 14 “a commercial hellscape that, much like National Siblings or Best Friends Day, puts a lot of importance on one day to prove your love for someone, as though the other 364 didn’t matter.”

Even engaged Ellis admitted that “the event of it puts unfair pressure on everyone.”

So how to combat the aggressive commercialization of conversation hearts and Hallmark-worthy romances? The answer is surprisingly simple: love.

“If you love someone,” Martus said, “you’ll show them that every day, or at least you’ll try to.”

“Love is caring for someone, perhaps more than you care for yourself, and having that person care for you in return,” Case added.

Ellis believes this Valentine’s Day should “just feel like another gift of a day in this special life.”

“Love is a quiet thing,” Thompson concluded, “but once it’s in your heart, it’s there forever.”



Ultimately, love isn’t about us: it’s about the people we love and putting them before ourselves.

For this reason, our final student has asked to remain anonymous. While he said that Valentine’s Day is enjoyable for those who actually have valentines, “this holiday evokes, in some, the harsh reminder of singleness, which gives a sense of failure.”

Nevertheless, this student optimistically views the day more so as an opportunity “to try and focus on how to serve and show kindness to others selflessly, and to help encourage others to do the same. Because I can do these things, though they may be small acts, it does bring me some comfort and confidence to know I can brighten someone’s day and encourage them despite how great or terrible I may be feeling.”

The main message to be taken away from this selfless story is to love one another unconditionally. Even if you don’t have a significant other to give chocolates to or go on a date with this Thursday, take the time to spread love to everyone you meet.

In the Wild West of love and its complications, why be a Lone Ranger when you could be a Jolly Rancher? Be kind, be compassionate, be you. Show the world that everyone deserves to be loved on Valentine’s Day.

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Author: Julia Chin

Julia Chin ‘21 is an English major and Music minor from the “Sunshine State.” Julia conforms to her major’s stereotypes by collaborating with The Mercury, carrying around her weight in books, and asserting her passion for tea and oxford commas; however, she occasionally breaks up the blissful silence of literature through swing dance, theatre rehearsals, and the music of College Choir and Spark Notes (the a cappella group, not the website for foolish children who wish to avoid reading).

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