He brings them home after a long Valentine’s Day full of construction paper and sticky fingers. Like all days now – with three kids in our little house – his arrival is greeted with squealing children and his wife somewhere among the quotidian shouting out a hey, babe!
I’m in the laundry area this evening, stuffing too many clothes into the washing machine and trying not to hope for a Valentine because you don’t want to ruin Valentine’s Day by hoping for a Valentine. He walks back, children trailing, with a big smile and these gorgeous peachy/pink/orange roses in one hand, a box of fruit-topped chocolate in the other.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he says and smiles bigger at my excitement. “The flowers are supposed to mean passion and friendship,” he explains.
Because I’m all into that kind of stuff. I like words and meanings and flowers and colors and I like tying things together with bows and he knows that. So he looked up what rose colors mean. He’s kind of a cynic and I’m disenchanted with commercialism, but we still do this day because why wouldn’t we play along with an opportunity to revel in Love?
A chance to celebrate with cut-out hearts and sugary treats the best thing going in this life. Not just what we have between the two of us, also what we have with the family-out-of-friends we’ve made, the people who hold us up in ways they don’t even realize, the gorgeous humans we get to be influenced by, and these incredible, infuriating, frustratingly brilliant children we’ve had the honor to welcome into the world and share these years with.
We spend the rest of the night delivering Valentines the kids and I spent the day making and eating miniature bundt cakes in our breaking-down minivan. Every time we open the sliding door this plastic piece makes a cracking sound and comes off it’s spot and we have to smack it back into place and we roll our eyes and laugh at each other because life is absurd and here we are eating bundt cake.
This is 13 years in – Valentine’s Day is a part of our story – 13 years ago I was this girl with a crush and he was this guy with a choice. Four days later we went on the drive that started this thing, we took some piece of holy, arrogant, naive rope and tied ourselves to each other. That rope is certainly frayed now and we’ve come close to cutting it several times, but we’ve also meticulously wound more thread into it. With thoughtful bouquets and tempered fights (after screaming ones) and compassion over tearful confessions and new life and also chocolate.
My days start and end with this man who brings me friendship and passion. Our Valentines are simpler than they used to be; we exchange chocolate we can find at the grocery store and I write his note on a $1 card and he brings me flowers at the end of his work day and the deliveries we make are mostly scribbled-on paper left on doorsteps because decent parents have their kids in bed by 8 and don’t drive them around the city eating cake, but this is it. This is more than I could hope for on Valentine’s or any day.
Of course the only picture I got was this one – when all the rest were dead and the last one standing is starting to wilt.