Friday, February 13, 2015

Every Valentine's Day So Far

In the early days, we would decorate brown paper bags with cut out hearts. Mine were never symmetrical. I still can't draw a perfect heart, but I've learned to find beauty in imperfection. Then we'd spend an hour on Heart Day passing around store-bought cardboard cards with cartoon characters, terrible puns, and a bite sized Snickers bar. So no one was left out, we each brought enough for the whole class.

A little older, I would obsess over those chalky candy hearts with the sayings. I'd dump out each box I had received and use the phrases to write silly songs and poems, such as this instant classic:
Be mine/ All mine
Kiss me/ So fine
Be mine/ So true
Love me/ Miss you
Be mine/ So fine
Why not/ Cutie pie

In middle school, the days of cards for every classmate had ended. Instead, secret notes were tucked inside lockers, taped on top of desks, and passed down through a series of giggling girlfriends until they made their way into the hands of the crush of the week. We'd dress up in ruffles and kitten heels and hit the school gym. Friends of her arranged with friends of him the next slow dance. At the end of the night, more hearts were broken than hung from the ceiling.

One year, I hand made cards for each member of my family. I painstakingly cut (slightly better, but still crooked) hearts from construction paper and came up with my own witty phrases. I was the only one to deliver Valentine's that year. The next year, I made none, and each of my parents and siblings gave me a card instead - surprise! Love's not only romantic, especially when you're a preteen.

Flowergrams were the big thing in our teens. We'd buy them for friends, donating the funds to heart disease foundations. Yellow meant friendship. Pink meant crush. Red meant forever. On one, I quoted a mutual favorite song and never signed it. I never should have pursued that boy anyway. The dances still happened, but the dancing was closer. So were the chaperones. We left in groups, girls heading home for sleepovers and all-night gossip sessions about the boys they danced with.

College nights meant fancy meals at the dining hall, with pink, heart-shaped pancakes one year. A later year, the night was Chinese take-out and watching the Olympics on a tiny tv in the corner. Sometimes, I'd see people in movies get dressed up to go on elaborate dates. I wasn't sure anyone did that in real life. I'm still not totally convinced.

Last year, I got a puppy. She cured my lonely mind and curled up in my lap. This year, I spend the evening with her in my arms again. The Boy is working late, but it's okay. There's no need to send a photo of the pup that says "Life is Ruff," because he'll see her when he's home in a few hours. We'll all hug, and eat homemade ice cream on the couch. We'll get up together and make breakfast.

I'm pretty sure I've perfected Valentine's Day, finally.

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