When I was a senior in college, I started dating this slim, ropy-muscled boy with black Irish coloring. (Spoiler alert: I married him a few years later.) That all started in November and, by February, we were positively smitten with one another. Our friends’ young relationships were collapsing around us but, still, we clung to the time we could spend together.
It was Florida, so Valentine’s Day could sort of sneak up on you. It was typically in the mid-70s, after all, so the weather certainly didn’t provide any cues. It didn’t sneak up on me, however. I always knew when Valentine’s Day was– I’d loved the holiday since I was a child.
Red! Pink! Hearts! Candy! Sparkles! Flowers! … What’s not to like??? (Please don’t burst my bubble by reminding me how commercialized it all is. I get this. I still love it.)
Remember, though– we were in college. And, as such, we were poor. College poor. You know– ramen noodles and kraft-mac-&-cheese-made-with-just-water kind of poor. Given that, you can’t really go expecting grand gestures from the young man you’re dating.
At midnight, just as Valentine’s Day was beginning, this guy showed up at my door with a little glass candle holder shaped like a bunny. I know it sounds cheesy, but we had visited a pet store weeks before and I had gushed over the darling baby bunnies. He had remembered that.
I woke up the next morning to a cup of French vanilla coffee he left on my desk. (My roommate let him in, lest you think he was doing some creepy breaking and entering.) A note was scrawled on the paper cup, “Happy Val Day, Doll.”
After class, I found a big white bear perched on bed. That silly bear would accompany me for many years in my journeys.
That night, we sat on the dorm floor, a fat candle burning between us. We sipped the white wine he had purchased (a ten dollar bottle– a small fortune!) out of dollar store glasses and I nibbled on a single chocolate from the “Pot of Gold” box he had gotten me. I made those chocolates last a good two weeks, relishing every morsel.
Was this guy as infatuated with Valentine’s Day as I? Did he cherish all the hearts and candy and sparkles as much as I?
No. Of course not.
But, when I met him, I met someone who valued what mattered to me. And, so, when he realized that I had a soft spot for this mushy holiday, he started planning. He stretched his meager dollars to turn it into a mega-event that left the other girls in my dorm sighing and swooning with envy– not that I received such a glamorous gift, but that I had a guy who was willing to spend all day making it special for me.
I’m still married to the Valentine King. I have had countless friends laughingly ask if I would please, PLEASE send my husband shopping with theirs. He’s got a knack for making little things oh-so-very special.
And that’s probably the best kind of Valentine I could ask for.