I got mine.
Valentine’s Day takes me back. To second grade: decorated shoeboxes full of Ninja Turtles and New Kids on the Block cards, with their silly stock greetings and fuzzy perforated edges. Tiffany’s mom bringing cupcakes for everyone. Candy hearts and Fun Dip.
Within a few years, there were secret admirers and pink carnations. “Be mine” took on more meaning. Valentine’s Day became a day to give chase. I didn’t get chased, but it was fun to watch. In my memories my sister, in whose tiny class there were four or five boys for every girl, was chased plenty. I think she came home with jewelry. (It’s cool. I loved Fun Dip.)
Valentine’s Day does not take me back to junior high, when the trauma of love, confrontation and FHA’s carnation sale must have been overshadowed by gym class.
Finally, in high school, I had boyfriends. Well, mostly one, who went to a different high school. For Valentine’s days I got cards, flowers, a letter jacket (Aren’t the gifts you have to return awkwardly years later just the worst?) – but always on weekends, away from the classmates I’d secretly have loved to impress. I decided I hated carnations anyway.
One February in college, I had a new boyfriend. More true love than bad romance. Valentine’s Day seemed silly and sweet and for love of all kinds. My friend Liz and I stayed up late making pink and red cards and her now signature sugar cookies and leaving them just outside friends’ doors. My boyfriend (and husband-to-be) made me a card decorated with camels and hearts (told you it was true love!) that I’ll keep forever.
I don’t think I’ve gotten a paper Valentine from Don since then. The chase turned into a happy decision we make over and over again, and on February 14 the best reminders are little things – kind words, a vat of salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant, a bag of his favorite coffee, play time with Jack, maybe some Netflix.
Sometimes I still feel a little pressure to do something more. Yesterday a sweet friend and neighbor who works in my building came down to bring me a Valentine. Somehow I revealed that we didn’t have big plans. At first she looked at me with surprise/pity, but her expression turned grateful when I offered to walk the dogs so that their romantic evening could get a head start. It was a quick stop on the way home for me, and it was a 62 degree day in February. Even solo, that’s romantic.
Also romantic: I really love that guy that I married (wearing a carnation in my hair, too.). And boy, do I like him.
He’s really nice to have around, and not only because of all the plumbing and wiring and baking and woodcutting he does on the weekends.