I’m not sending flowers (ridiculously expensive this time of year. I like to get her flowers all year long).
I’m not sending a card (sorry, but they seem silly to me. Eventually they get thrown away. Not the image I’m looking for here).
I’m not sending chocolates (neither of us need the extra calories at the moment. Again, I’d rather buy her really good chocolate throughout the year).
I have a certain gift for words and I prefer gifts that are personal over ones mass produced. So I thought I’d write an open love letter to my Valentine.
That’s when I realized there was a problem. Where to begin? Where to end? What words to use to describe all the things she has meant, means and I hope will continue to mean to me? It feels like I’m caught between not having enough words and needing so many words that I can not possibly put them all down. The quote that leapt to mind is from “The Lord of the Rings” where Fangorn the Ent describes Entish names to Merry and Pippin:
…it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time…Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to…
So how to name a love affair that will pass it’s 37th anniversary in just a couple weeks? How to describe the ups and downs? How many words are needed? How do I name this love affair? Name something that keeps on growing?
In the beginning we were a house divided. I was smitten. Unlike many boys I never went through the “Ewwww, girls” phase. I’ve always liked girls. So my first imaginings of a “dream girl” came in either third or fourth grade. Over the years some parts of that image changed but two did not. She was about my height (I love long legs) and she had long brown hair. So when I looked across the floor of my Acting 1 class and saw long legs and long brown hair wrapped in a workout leotard I was pretty much done. Didn’t know it the time, but it was over.
For her part, after short aquaintance, she decided I was an obnoxious jerk. As always, she was correct. I was an immature, insecure boy who covered it up with a thick layer of cockiness. It would take the better part of two years before most of the problems in our early relationship got ironed out. Or call it “Uuntil I grew up and realized how close I was to losing my dream girl”.
How many stories within our story do I need to tell? If you ever see us dancing (which is rare) watch for the moment when we lean in close. You’ll think we’re dancing cheek to cheek but you’ll be wrong. For just a few seconds we’ll be dancing ear to ear. Then we’ll move apart, smile and kiss. It’s in memory of two nervous children who were dancing as part of a rehersal exercise, overshot the mark and were too embarassed to correct ourselves.
Ask about our first married argument. We’ll smile widely and answer “Spaghetti!”. It’s true. Our first argument (in almost 32 years of marriage we rarely argue) was over how often we had spaghetti for dinner. We’ve never argued about money. We have argued about pasta frequency.
There’s the story about the pizza bought with pennies. It’s my favorite. Because it shows how much this lady loves me. Money was tight, but then money has been tight our entire life together. It bothers me that I can’t buy her special things. Things she’s never asked for but that I want to give her. On that day I was beside myself because money was so tight we couldn’t even afford a pizza. A freaking pizza! She assured me, as she always does, that it doesn’t matter. Then later that day she bought me a pizza. She gathered all the change in the house and bought a pizza. I’m not sure how well she even remembers the story other than the fact that I tell it over and over and over.
You see, I’m amazed that she loves me. I don’t see myself as conventional or easy to be around. I’m a dreamer and not particularly practical in many ways. I can be astoundingly lazy at times and easily distracted. Certainly the professional life I’ve led has been less than smooth. Two completely different careers (neither of them overly lucrative) so far, with uncertainty facing us yet again. For all my verbal skills I can be uncommunicative. I’m a romantic who is really quite bad at being romantic. And at times I can still be an idiot.
One of my bosses, upon hearing that the love of my life was in the hospital again (the hospital is, sadly, a recurring set in our little life play), told me that most guys would leave a wife with this many problems. I thought it was not only one of the most insensitive things ever said to me but also one of the dumbest. Maybe “most guys” would (I don’t believe it for a minute but I’ve been wrong before) but I don’t want to be one of those guys.
Besides, I’m still crazy in love with her.
I love that I can make her laugh. I love the sound of her voice. I love the feel of her in my arms and the feel of her arms around me. I am humbled that she loves with a fierce determination that has stood up through everything. I love that she believes in me even when I don’t. My heart lifts at the sight or sound of her. She inspires me to keep trying to be my very best self.
This is my valentine to her.
Somehow flowers, candy and a card seemed terribly insufficient.
I love you, Beautiful.