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I got mine.

February 15, 2011

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.

He’s handsome and good, and in always assuming the best about other people, he makes me want to complain less. Sometimes that’s because I look at him and our son and our life and I know that I don’t have anything to complain about. And other times it’s because he kind of tells me to complain less, like when I start to lose it because the guy in the drive-through forgot to put napkins in the bag and he stops me around “I mean, how HARD is it… .” Because really, you just never know.
He is funny and serious and cautious and brave in that way that someone who is everything to you can be.
He was pretty instrumental in bringing our son into the world. (Speaking of Jack: I ask him, “Who loves you more than anything in the world?” And he says “My Daddy and you. And I love you so much!” Happy Valentine’s Day to me for a lifetime.)
And he bakes in coveralls.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 4:05 am

    The best Valentine is the one that comes naturally, in forms that show us the giver knows us intimately and completely. Happy Valentines to you and yours!

  2. February 16, 2011 4:51 am

    Oh, carnation sales! That takes me back. Waaaaaaay back. And this post? My heart is melting. Love it!

    PS: Thanks for the shout-out. Fun Dip: Just one more thing we have in common. =>

  3. February 16, 2011 2:12 pm

    Ok, I’m getting even more bummed that I only know you electronically. I didn’t know that you guys also met in college, and your description of your sweets (esp the complaining thing!) so perfectly sums up some of Drew’s best qualities that it’s almost eerie. So glad that we’re not the only ones that love the love, but not necessarily the pressure of the traditions…we happily spent our evening with pizza and the couch, never making it to our Netflix because we’re 1,000 years old apparently and go to bed at 7pm. (Not really, but if Thursday is the new Friday, the 9:30 is definitely the new midnight in our house) The whole thing with things like this is to love being together in whatever way feels the most true, and it seems like your guys have hit the ol nail on the head!

  4. February 16, 2011 8:54 pm

    Oh Leslie, such a sweet, wonderful dedication to a man who seems equally, if not more, so. Happy belated Valentine’s to you and yours.

  5. February 17, 2011 3:25 am

    This is lovely. Romance is so often in the small gestures. And signs of love – every day.

  6. February 17, 2011 5:54 am

    Leslie, this is such a sweet, wonderful post. I have always loved you two as a couple; seeing you together always gave me a sense of hope for love and marriage (and families, too, now that you’re three). 🙂

    Happy Valentines Day!

    And thanks for the shout-out! That’s one of my favorites.

  7. February 17, 2011 5:17 pm

    Leslie, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to you! Sounds like you found someone who loves you just as much as you love him. That’s lifetime love.

  8. February 20, 2011 6:21 pm

    I get this, and feel it too. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. But I do tell my own guy often, how much I appreciate him and feel blessed he’s in my life. So I understand completely and I’m so glad you have him!

    And mine builds for me too!

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