Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Dozen

"Are they from your husband?"

"I sure hope so."

A pair of beaming office aides have just brought in a dozen red and white roses in a gorgeous be-ribboned vase. It's the first time I've had roses delivered to me at school since I was a student myself, a junior in high school, 21 years ago.

At 17, I was a hopeless romantic. I'd never been interested in just dating a string of boys and getting my heart broken; I wanted love. (But not like Bella Swan wanted love; I never would have gotten married and vamped without at least going to college first.) I needed a rock, a foundation, a lighthouse in the storm. And when I unexpectedly found these things in the tall guy who had been both rival and friend since 7th grade, I wanted everyone to know it.

Everyone knew it on Valentine's Day, 1991.

Jason and I had what I thought at the time was a long-distance relationship. That is to say, he went to a high-school 15 whole minutes away. Neither of us drove yet, so the miles that separated us felt like so much more than that. He had moved in with his mother and despite my pleading, been taken out of the high-school we were growing up in to go to an elite institution of secondary education. (It wasn't really elite, but it sure thought it was.) Yet by that Valentine's Day we had been together almost a year, and I no longer worried about all the time we spent apart. I was mature enough to see that if we sat next to each other every class, every day, we would have split up a long time before. I needed space, and so did he.

But I was immature enough that sometimes I wanted the judgemental It Girls to know that someone loved me, even though that someone wasn't around to engage in public displays of affection during class changes.

So when a student office aide knocked on the door of my English class with a long white box for me, I felt like the luckiest girl in the school. Inside were white roses and a card that made me blush. Not because it was frisky, but because it had the words "love" and "you" on it. There was no awkward waiting-for-the-other-person-to-say-it-first period with us; we started our relationship with "I love you." But that doesn't mean I ever took those words for granted.

History repeated itself today when another bouquet of white (mixed with red) roses found their way to me inside a different school building. Again, they were delivered by a teenage office aide. And just like before, I unwrapped the tissue paper from them in front of a group of high-school girls who said, "Aww..." when I blushed reading the card inside.

I had just been thinking about how different Valentine's Day is now that we're married with child. I usually cook because we don't want to deal with restaurant-on-a-holiday craziness. Sometimes Ainsley has swim practice or a piano lesson. By the time we get the kid fed, homeworked, and in bed, we barely have the energy to catch up on The Daily Show before falling asleep on the couch holding champagne flutes still half-full of Sam Adams. And really, I'm okay with all this.

Until I see my big vase of gorgeous roses sitting right out on the circulation desk in front of anyone who cares to look, and I feel 17 and hopelessly romantic all over again. That tall guy, I think I'll keep him.

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