Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Wonder What We'll Do on Valentines Day?

On the 14th of February, 2004, I was laying on MSO Rin and stagexing’s couch in North Carolina, talking on the phone to my new boyfriend, who lived in Denver. We’d known each other only about 4 months, been dating about 1, and thus had been faced with the dilemma of what on earth to get each other, especially when we each made *almost* enough money to afford the phone call. If we skipped a meal. He sent me a fizzy bath bomb and the soundtrack to the movie we saw on our first date. I sent him lots of Hershey kisses and a mobile I made out of two hangers and magazine pictures of his favorite sexy movie stars (these included, if I remember, Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, Monica Belucci, and some other gorgeous brunette). We talked for hours, and I remember him referring to a “love for the ages.”

On the 14th of February, 2005, my very serious boyfriend and I lived in apartments across the street from one another. We still didn’t make any money, so we couldn’t afford to go out to eat on the most expensive dining night of the year. So we made a deal – I would make his favorite dinner (breaded Southwest style catfish), and he would make a fancy dessert (um, frozen pre-made chocolate Ă©clairs, and so yes I knew from the beginning that I was not in love with a cook), and we would enjoy a romantic meal at home. I set the table as nicely as I could – I remember not having even two full place settings that matched, and the cups were plastic. But I bought some tea light candles, and one rose that I put in a bud vase, and we had a lovely meal on his rickety kitchen table that he had retrieved from a dumpster a few months prior. I covered it with a sheet and we pretended it was a fine linen tablecloth, and we were on the terrace of an Italian villa, clinking our crystal wine glasses and beckoning the help for a refill on the bread basket.

On the 14th of February, 2006, my very serious-and-why-hasn’t-he-proposed-to-me-yet boyfriend came over to pick me up at my newly bought house, which was about fifteen minutes from the apartment complex where he still lived. We made a little more money at this point, so though we still couldn’t afford to eat out, we were able to manage to buy tickets to the campus planetarium and watch the star show. The stars were lovely, and so was the night, and we wandered aimlessly through the barren rose gardens outside the planetarium for several minutes while I held my breath and waited for the proposal that didn’t come. When he took my hand and started to draw me towards the car, I sighed as yet another opportunity to become his bride slipped away, and we headed back to my house. He pulled the truck up into my driveway, and I saw that the trees surrounding my backyard patio were strung with twinkle lights, and there was a fire in my chiminea. He pulled me to the center of the patio, which was cleanly swept for once, and got down on one knee. My sister, who was my roommate at the time, waited in the house with three glasses of wine and our first engagement card. She had scattered tea lights and rose petals across the kitchen table.

On the 14th of February, 2007, from 7pm-11pm I was performing a preview of King Lear at a small women’s college in Raleigh. I slipped into bed after midnight, and kissed my husband good night, and whispered Happy Valentine’s Day. A couple of weeks later we were enjoying our delayed honeymoon in the Virgin Islands, so missing out on Valentine’s Day didn’t concern either of us too much.

On the 14th of February, 2008, I will be alone in the house for the first night all week. I will be making a coconut cake from scratch, in preparation for my husband’s arrival. He will be packing up his hotel room, readying to fly home the next day for a short visit. We still don’t have any money, but we’ll probably splurge and buy some minutes on the phone card so we can talk to one another that night (even though we’ll have spent the whole day talking to one another for free on our work computers.) My gift to him this year will be a free e-card. His gift to me will be to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, living on the cheap to be sure I have enough money for plenty of fresh and healthy food, so I can nourish our littlest Valentine.

Someday, and very soon, too, we’ll both be working full time. We’ll have the cash to hire a babysitter for Valentine’s night, and go out to a nice dinner, and maybe he could get me roses even though they’re ridiculously priced, and maybe I could get him a bottle of nice bourbon. I could dress up, with dangling silver earrings, and he could wear a tie, and we could enjoy a romantic night on the town.

But. I don’t think we ever will. Expensive dinners are for birthdays. Nice presents are for Christmas. Roses will come on random days, when he’s thinking of me, and we’ll be able to buy more nice bourbon as soon as we run out of the old bottle. Instead, I kind of hope we keep Valentine’s Day as our humble holiday. We’ll keep the tradition of eating at home, on plastic dinnerware, with a couple of candles lit. Maybe next year it will be a picnic on the living room floor, with Jackjack in a Bumbo seat drooling mashed carrots and Schmuppy Dog trying to lick his baby face clean. The Schmitten will be forcing herself into our laps, even though we’ll have plates full of food in her way. We’ll pick cat hair out of our mashed potatoes, and listen to Disney singalongs on the stereo, and our hearts will be full.


MSO Rin said...

How time does fly. It's so strange and wonderful to think about how many different stages of your lives--apart and together in all ways--have been marked with the Hallmark Holiday.

How's that couch, by the way?

glove said...

My sister loves it. :) She was sitting on a twin bed mattress in her apartment for a long time. So last year we donated it to her. It will probably make the rounds to all the sibs before it gets junked!

The other furniture, inc. coffee table, end tables, dresser, desk, etc. - still in use, and going strong. Those nice pointy edges on the coffee table will be denting Jack's head for years to come, I think!

super jane said...

i love that you remember such detail from your v-tine's days. i'm glad you keep it simple and remember what the day is really all about. the love and special exchanges between you and your hubby are much more valuable than a dozen roses and some stover's chocolates. although sometimes those are nice too.

glove said...

well, sj, I wouldn't say no to a box of chocolates. ;)

kaycee said...

This made me weepy. Sigh.

T Pea said...

This made me all weepy, too!