My Funny Valentine

“I kissed Anthony, it felt like fireworks and loveliness! It was like drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire after playing outside in the snow.”

That was the text message I received a few days ago from my 19-year-old cousin, Emily. A freshman in college, she’s head over heels for a new boy. The text made me smile. I remember those days – a time when nothing else seemed to matter except spending time together, even if it meant doing nothing. And, let’s face it, as a broke college student nothing was a very popular pastime. Time flew by and stood still at the same time. Every kiss felt amazing and every second apart felt like a thousand years. Emily is going to have an incredible Valentine’s Day this year.

I’m 33 and married so I have over a decade of experience on my cousin and that’s probably why she confides in me with text messages like that. Plus, she thinks I’m still young enough to be cool, so I’ve got that going for me. If I were to send a text message back to her about my love life it would be something like, “The last time we kissed was Thursday. It was sometime between handing my husband his burned toast and cleaning toddler puke up from the kitchen floor. There’s a chance it was cat puke.” Of course I didn’t send that, I want sweet Emily to think that fireworks and hot chocolate -type love lasts forever.

I won’t bore her with the details of married Valentine’s Day. I won’t tell her that the only chance of a nice dinner out is if V-Day falls on a Saturday night. If it falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, forget it, I’ll be making pork chops and Rice-a-roni after an exhausting day at the office. My husband will stop at the supermarket on the way home from work and pick up whatever leftover candy/flower combo they still have – discounted after the rush from the day. College boys buy the good stuff early in the day, or better, the day before so their girl can wake up to a bouquet of roses and balloons and know someone thinks they are special.

From the time we’re able to create hearts from the crease of a folded piece of construction paper, it is ingrained in us that Valentine’s Day is a magical day. We spend our grade school years giving Valentines to everyone simply because they are in our class and by High School we, especially us girls, determine our very existence on whether or not we get a Valentine from someone special. But once you’re married, that all changes. That society-made-sacred day in February becomes like any other day. The pressure is off. There’s no fear that the construction paper isn’t the perfect shade of red, that the candy isn’t their favorite nor any doubt that the person loves you back. When you’re married, “Valentine’s Day” becomes as arbitrary as Groundhog Day, and that’s okay. Love doesn’t have a day when you’re married. It’s unconditional.

My husband has seen me at my best and at my worst and vice versa. As I write this wearing sweatpants, my glasses and my hair in a bun, he’s on his favorite chair wearing only boxers and socks (what a combo!) watching something on YouTube and laughing to himself. Actually, wait, he’s singing. This is a married version of doing nothing together. There’s no Hallmark card or box of candy that could capture what these moments mean to us. Perhaps the greatest gift of all this Valentine’s Day is being there at the end of my exhausting day to make him dinner and thank him for the roses he so thoughtfully bought me when all he wanted to do was come home and kick off his shoes. By the way, I’m more of a tulips girl, and I told him all the time when we were blissfully dating, but when you’re married, you choose your battles. Valentine’s Day, is not one of them.

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