We had never been out together on Valentine’s Day.
Until this year. But that’s part of the price(not really much of a price), we pay for a ready-made family and two smallish kids back at the beginning. Our first Valentine’s Day, a late dinner after the kids were tucked in bed, steaks and flowers and maybe an episode of LOST(you know back when the show was good). Small and so far removed from the hearts and pinks and diamond jewelry, and everything I grew up believing Valentine’s Day would be. It isn’t. All the girl talk in the dorm was bullshit compared to reality.
Of course, we went out later in the week when we had a babysitter. We were the couple who white-people danced at a Brad Paisley concert dodging beer spills and the other dancers just as off beat as we were. Eighteen rows from the stage, I sang along to the songs I knew, made up words, or just swayed to the steel guitar. He never sang a word just smiled and enjoyed the show. We laughed at the Sonic drive-thru waiting for slushes because we were both too cheap to pay the highway robbery prices at the concert. And we returned to the quietness, the normality of our relationship. We’re not the going out on the town types. Never have been, doubtful, it will change.
We defy romantic cliche by necessity.
We’ve spent Valentine’s Day sick with the flu or cooking pasta or grilling more steaks, always at home because we had kids and babysitters are expensive. He has sent flowers–always knowing to avoid red roses. Somehow, we worked out how to make the day special. We’ve climbed up mountains and bought truffles. Or simply ordered Chinese food and sat on the couch together.
But this year, we went out on the actual day.
I dressed up my jeans with red lipstick and a bright scarf. He made reservations early that morning and brought home yellow roses with red tips. We laughed at the special menu(who buys champagne at $140 a bottle? not us!). I love the surprise of the whole evening, and I had no idea that he planned so far in advance. For him, 7am that morning IS advanced planning. Our evening didn’t have the romantic comedy ending nor did I expect it to.
I’ve given up my idealized, wonderland Valentine’s. A utopia of sorts.
Even on our first Valentine’s Day out, we giggled at the couple to our right. First couple dates into a relationship, still young with awkward pauses, favorite food/movie/job questions. We’ve left that stage far behind in these years that we have worn together. He can tell you all my favorites, and I can tell you his.
But we aren’t as far long in life as the couple seated to our left. Retired, but not old and senile. Every so often, we heard the whispers about grandchildren and obligations and errands. But we heard their dreamings too. I long for the slowness of life when we can focus on dreaming of our. Right now, busy has been the order of days. We’re worn out by 8pm from work and lessons plans and grades. This is our life, a quiet life. It suits us better than anything else ever could.
For the quiet life is no cliche, it is who we are.