Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and secretly it is one of my favorite holidays. It’s not that my husband showers me with roses or chocolates or anything of the like really. Some people think it’s a Hallmark gimmick, but for me growing up it was about construction paper and crafting or if we were lucky one of the peanut gang members on a cheap cardstock perforated edge style cutout for an attempt at being cute. It’s about love and letting people know that you need their company… a valentine in fact doesn’t have to be a lover, but a friend that you simply care for and they deserve to hear it.
John and I have always celebrated Valentine’s Day and with good reason… it is the day after our dating anniversary (February 13) which is important for a couple that was together nearly 10 years before they even wed. We celebrate our wedding anniversary and our dating anniversary every year without fail even though we’ve been married for ten years now. If someone asks me how John and I made it work all of these years- this quite possibly might be my answer- to love like every day is Valentine’s Day. To shower each other passion, commitment, respect, but mostly treat them like you are completely in over your head for them whenever you can….not necessarily anything with petals or cardstock. After 19 years, I’m certain that plays a part in it. In church on Sunday John did the children’s moment and talked about one upping each other so instead of saying things like “I’m going to the be the first one to running three miles!” Instead say things like, “I’m going to preset the coffee maker before you!” – to outdo each other with kindness, love, and compassion.
Last year I gave John a wooden box- I was actually gifting it back. He had given it to me for our 5th dating anniversary as the traditional wood gift. I emptied it out and filled it with strips of paper. Each piece of paper had a funny or special memory for us on it. Sure it took me some time, but it’s a gift that kept giving through out the year. Over the year he has kept the box in his office and from time to time pulls a slip of paper out of the box for a special trip down memory lane. There are some things that we can say to each other that hardly anyone else will get- I could look at John and say, “It’s like a waterfall!” “A smoothie- yeah a smoothie!!!” We’ll both chuckle and no one else has any idea what we’re talking about. This week the slip he pulled out said, “Will you go get me a soda?”
Do you remember this highlight of Michael Vick before his incarceration? I remember it as clear as yesterday. It was so awesome and I’m still amazed Vick didn’t break his own neck doing that move. It really was breathtaking and the energy in the stadium was truly electric.
Well see John has only seen the above clip because although we were there in person… he missed it because I had simply asked him to run and get us a drink. I feel lazy typing this but I did have a damaged knee that year and couldn’t walk well. Pretty much anytime he has gone to get anything by my request he misses something amazing and it’s a running joke.
I’m sure all couples have memories like these. A simple phrase or word can turn us into hysterics. Maybe it’s because it’s our anniversary week or maybe it’s because we both just like the holiday, but we love Valentine’s Day. It is not what you give on that day, but more about what you give year round and the time you take to celebrate each other every day. I can say that and appreciate Valentine’s Day for its gimmick like reputation too.
Last week John was looking at a questionnaire about an acquaintance. It said “Your first kiss??” and the person answered “Bedford”. We chuckled at the answer. My first kiss was in a car with a guy named Terrance who made fun of my horseback riding skills and drooled. John’s first kiss- he thinks was while playing spin the bottle and he doesn’t even remember who it was. Most people think that John and I never dated anyone else, but that’s not the case. John dated one of my best friends, Linda, for a while and I had two long term relationships before John- Michael and DJ. We both had several other more middle school type relationships that didn’t last long nor were they clear about whether or not it was a real relationship. Our friend Lorna can still boast that she and John never officially split up so the game is still on. Nothing was more serious than John and I and there is no memory like our memory of our first kiss together. I knew at that moment there was a spark like nothing else and I was forever head over heels for him.
The story of how we got together went something like this- He had been dating Linda, but they split up and I had been dating someone but it was weird and a typical middle school dating situation where we weren’t really going out. I had been crushing on John for sometime and according to Linda he was very interested in me. In fact one day while skateboarding on a local street he had actually called her by my name. (Kind of funny- we live on that same street now 20 years later). I was at a friends house on February 13th and through a series of phone calls in true middle school fashion Linda said I shouldn’t wait to talk to John after Valentine’s Day. I should in fact just go after him. So she called him and then called me back and said, “He’s going to call you so hang up.” I answered the phone at our friend’s house and John said, “A little birdy told me that you like me and the thing is I like you too. So will you go out with me?” We’ve been together ever since.
The following day being Valentine’s Day- we didn’t have time to prepare. I honestly don’t recall if we got each other anything. I do recall that it was raining that day and he was wearing his leather jacket which he in his typical humor dropped over a puddle for me to cross while walking after school. He’s still not an open the car door kind of guy and I don’t really like the attention. We left our middle school heading towards the local high school. Kids would hang out in front of the library and John could catch the bus home at another school and I would walk home and it gave us some time to hang out after school. The rain drove us indoors and we tried to find some time to talk and get away from everyone else. We were in the fiction section the third row from the back of the Raleigh Court Library when he first kissed me. I don’t remember what we talked about it didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now, but I remember that kiss 19 years later more clear than I remember the kiss at our wedding. It was one of those moments that are so clear in your mind and the memory doesn’t really fade, because it truly defines a moment in your life. We parted our ways so he could catch the bus and I headed home smiling from ear to ear. My dad totally called it when I walked in the door and teased me about my gleaming smile. My life forever changed for the better. I knew it and I could feel it.
We’ve had our ups and downs over the last 19 years, but truth be told I still feel like that 8th grade girl walking home with a gleaming smile and dry feet. John always finds a way to make me smile and takes care of me whether it be from throwing jackets over puddles or grabbing me a soda during an awesome touchdown. Or surprising me by starting the coffee while I’m in the shower. On this Valentine’s Day try to think outside or in this case inside the box- what can you do for your loved one that is more than a gimmick and truly represents the two of you together.
Love ya, John B.