More often than not, Valentine’s Day passes without much fanfare around here. We’re not big ones for the holiday.
The cheap cards with “fun sized” candy will have gone off to school in someone’s backpack (after I spend too much time contemplating what could be “fun” about a packet of candy the size of a Barbie purse). When that same kid comes home, I’ll hit him up for his collection of little conversation hearts, because he’s good at sharing, and prefers chocolate anyway.
Mike and I are not a demonstrative couple, and never have been, so neither of us will remember to make reservations at some fancy schmancy eatery, nor put much thought into a gift.
I might remember right before Mike comes home to dig a card out of the stash we always have on hand because we buy them and forget to send them. I’ll cross off the “happy boss’ day” in favor of a more appropriate message, and stick in the punch card for ten car washes I bought when I was eating conversation hearts on the drive home from school and remembered it was the big “V.” It was either a car wash punch card or a shrink-wrapped rose from the gas station.
I did the rose thing last year.
He’ll come home and laugh about the boss’ day card, lamenting the fact he forgot the big “V” too. Clearly I’m the one responsible for romance in this relationship.
After we send the kids to bed, he’ll rub my feet and let me pick what we’re going to watch on television.
Not because it’s a special occasion. It’s what we do every night.
I’ve never been one to claim long, romantic walks on the beach as a turn on. I don’t need flowers or jewelry or chocolate. I don’t need to feel guilty that I didn’t remember to make dinner reservations and get a babysitter for some Hallmark holiday that is going to make all the restaurants crowded.
What I need is someone who knows what kind of coffee to pick up for me when he’s out running errands. Who listened to my grandma at the breakfast table those mornings she was living with us and felt all chatty, forgetting I’m not a morning person. I need someone who knows where my candy stash is and sneaks an extra box of conversation hearts in there when I’m not looking.
I need someone who reminds me to wait a day before sending a scathing email, and who relies on me to do the same.
When Mike and I started dating, I don’t think either of us had any expectations. I had just broken off a really dysfunctional, years-long relationship and would graduate from college that spring. Mike had another year to go.
We worked together daily at our college yearbook. We had the same friends. He laughed a lot and was easy to be with. He dunked a tater tot in ketchup once and threw it at me because it seemed funny at the time. Then told me to get over myself when I got mad.
He followed me home that summer, forgoing a good paying job with the Forest Service so he could intern for free at an office in my home town. He lived on nothing and used the last bit of his savings to buy me a tiny diamond before he returned to school.
He graduated and we lived on teensy entry-level salaries. Date night was a long walk to the Circle K for a diet coke when we could pull together enough change.
There weren’t any flowers then, either. And we couldn’t afford cable television. But there were still foot rubs.
Foot rubs are free.
The night of our first date, a fraternity dance, when he was the rebound boyfriend, that night was February 10.
This year marked the 24th February 10th we’ve had together. All those years of no particular expectations at all, except that each of us will always be there for the other, and that there will occasionally be spontaneous boxes of conversation hearts and car wash coupons and the flinging of tater tots.
And maybe a foot rub or two.
We don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day for any of that.
Except the conversation hearts. Those only come out once a year, right?
Lookit, you don’t have to rub my feet. You can vote. That would be so much less awkward.