Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day: The 25th Year

Picture It: Valentine's Day, 1990. At the beginning of the school day, a very sweet boy gave me three roses as a token of friendship. We were in 11th grade that year, and we had been friends since 3rd. He gave roses to other girls in our little circle of friends that day, so my roses weren’t fraught with any romantic notions, no awkward “Will you be my Valentine” stuff. 
Whew! Amirite?
Little did he know that I’d been interested in him as more than a friend for a long time. I was simply too scared to say anything about it. I was afraid of ruining our friendship or making things weird with our circle of friends. I was especially afraid that he didn’t feel the same way. I was even more afraid that he did.

Fast-forward to the end of the school day. After carrying the roses with me all day and answering like a bajillion questions about them, I could not ignore my feelings any more.
REO Speedwagon Would Understand
When I got home from school I did what any self-respecting 16-year-old girl would do: I ran to the wall-mounted kitchen phone (next to my pet dinosaur's cage) and immediately called my BFF.

Me: Eau-mi-gawd, I like totally have to tell you something!

BFF: Eaukeh, tell me!

Me: I like, totally like Mike.

BFF: You mean you like, like-like him?

Me: Totally.

In unison: SQUEEEE!

But there was still the little problem that I was too scared to say anything to him about it. Luckily, my BFF was easily recruited to the task of nudging him in my direction. The next afternoon, he called me to say, “What is with BFF today? She keeps telling me I should ask you out.” The conversation blossomed from there, and we shyly confessed having “feelings” for each other. Like, totally.
Seriously, how could these two kids NOT end up together?
A few days later, we had our first official date. What we did not know then is that a movie at Laurel Lakes 9 and dinner at Pizza Villa would be the last first date either of us would have. Our shy confessions of “feelings” (like, totally) grew over the years into a deep and enduring love. From a foundation of nervous giggles and sweaty-palmed hand holding, we would go on to get married, build a life together in a sleepy little town by the Chesapeake Bay, and bring two amazing new people into the world.

That’s not to say it was all lollipops and rainbows. God knows we had our battles over the years, both petty and epic. But through it all, we always managed to hash it out, come to a mutual understanding, and confirm that we still loved each other – even in moments when we didn’t particularly like each other.
Storybook romances can be messy sometimes.
On a side note, it turns out my early fears about making things weird in our little circle of friends were unfounded. To this day, they are my closest friends in the world. They celebrated with us at our wedding. They happily welcomed our babies to the world. And more recently, they stood with me as we watched the funeral director close his casket. They held me as I wept for my Sweet Boy, and they took care of me while I crumbled under the weight of my grief even though they had just lost one of their best friends.

This is the first Valentine’s Day in 25 years that Mike won’t give me roses. It’s not the flowers I’ll miss. It’s his presence. His vitality. His devotion. His dedication to just being the best version of himself he could be. Hopefully some memories will bubble to the surface that make me smile. After 25 years, I have so very many to cherish.