February 15, 2012

February 15

I am so glad today is Not Valentine's day, and that I can return to my regularly programmed life. That is to say, my regularly programmed married life. 

We've been married for almost fifteen years.  Fifteen, great, happy years.  You know how in some movies or books,  people look back and say, "oooh, that one. That one was a bad year"?   We haven't had that.  Granted, we've lived through some bad years, years of sickness and loved ones dying, days of intense worry and personal grief.  But we haven't had a "Bad year" in our lives as two people together, and in love.  Those first few years were hard, I guess. I had to learn how to be a Married Person, and did a lot of emotional thrashing about and button-pushing to find my happy spot of daily life.   I don't do well with the whole "daily life" bit.   I grew up with a good amount of drama and chaos shadowing my days, so to relax and breathe and enter into the current of normal daily life is hard, hard hard. It's gotten easier.  Somewhat.

I don't know how to do Valentine's. If we were another kind of couple, I would've suggested, "look, let's make the kids an early dinner and then we'll enjoy a late dinner alone with some good wine and filet mignon."  But my husband doesn't drink wine, and truth be told, he'd prefer to eat even earlier than the kids do.  "Late dinner" is not a phrase that holds any charm for him.   We also aren't the kind of people who have a regular baby-sitter (we did, but she grew up), so dinner out on the town wasn't an option, either.

It's a good sign that we both wanted to make a date out of February 14th. I know some couples who both tacitly agree to just ignore the whole manufactured holiday bullshit and go about their business.  That's not us.  We both still want to do something special for each other.  It just where our individual notions of "something special" and "romance" intersect that the problem starts. 

Supermarket flowers and chocolates, and lunch at the mall are fine, really.  There isn't anything wrong with them. Except that they reveal such a lack of forethought and planning, the words that define the concept of romance.  I usually play "cruise director" for our days.  Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations: I'm on them like white on rice. I love to plan, love to research, love to find new places to see and visit.  

On Valentine's, I surrender that control,  hoping that I can leave the planning to the non-expert, and it always ends badly.  Even when I should know better.   Also: women have such long memories. So, unbidden, come the memories of every other Valentines or date night when I thought, really? Really, this is the extent of your creativity?   And then I think of all those Dear Abby letters I've read over the years, from long-suffering wives complaining: every year, no card, no flowers! No birthday cards, no candy!  And then I start hating myself for complaining, for being disgruntled, for here is my heart-felt card, here is my candy, so why the hell am I such a spoiled brat? 

Yesterday I was made grateful for the daily, for the non-event .  The daily meals, the daily kisses. Our private, stupid jokes.   The hanging out and love and friendship that are the real deal, the things that a life are made of.  Not the card and the wrinkled pink wrapping paper from a decade-old stash. not the gargantuan chocolate-covered strawberries, when all I really wanted was a small, heart-shaped box filled with something rich and complex.   It was a lot of pressure for everyone.  Let's just move on, my love. 

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