I was remembering the little boxes of valentines that my mother picked out for me to write for every child in my class in elementary school. The practice was that you wrote one so you would get one and no child was left out. So, even if I didn’t like someone, or they didn’t like me, we still exchanged valentines. I found it to be a lot of work. It seemed rather insincere but one of those politically correct things to do, long before there was political correctness. Of course, as an aside, I think political correctness is currently understated, or maybe overstated. I haven’t quite decided. Sigh….
I always had male friends, even as a little girl. They were cousins or children of my parents’ friends and I never liked them “like that” since they were more like annoying brothers. The first time I remember really being interested in a boy was in fourth grade. His name was “Dagwood” (a lie but you never know who’s reading this). Dagwood didn’t know I even existed. I just thought he was wonderful based on nothing that comes to mind now. I didn’t know how to get his attention and I was not the female equivalent of suave, so what I came up with, on a Friday, when we had assembly and the girls had to dress in white shirts, blue skirts and some kind of weirdo red scarf was ,during art, that I would paint the back of Dagwood’s shirt with a maroon colored paint that I had created. Suffice it to say, it did not go well. Not only did I not get the boy, I got in trouble with the teacher, the principal, and my parents were not exactly thinking I was the next Vincent Van Gogh. It was a “seemed like a good idea at the time” moment. I’m thinking that if restraining orders were around then, Dagwood would have taken one out on me or I would have been charged with assault and battery with a paint brush. I actually thought the shirt looked cool. Having come up behind him brush in hand, just reinforced that I was a bit different, albeit creative (my thoughts, not those of others). Dagwood and I never had a history from that day forward or backwards as it turned out.
I did have my first real boyfriend when I was thirteen. He was three years older than me and we met at camp. He was a counselor, I was a camper. There were probably rules about that but it was a summer romance and I was totally in love. He lived in my neighborhood and we spent the summer hanging out and it was good. I went to my first concert with him and saw “Every Mother’s Son” who were pretty much one hit wonders of”Come On Down to My Boat” fame. He met my parents, and my grandmother and I still have his high school picture which he inscribed “Not for a moment but for a lifetime”. Then he dumped me for some southern belle he met in college. Oh the pain. It was the reverse of “See You in September” and more like “I’m heading south in September and you’re not in my address book anymore”. One of his friends tried to “console” me, but I was not having any of that. I was a mess. I’d just pine over his picture and try to figure out what went wrong.
Fast forward a couple of years to high school and college and dating and doing my own share of dumping some creeps. I liked the going out part to concerts and movies. I remember going to see “The Band” at the Fillmore East with my best friend’s cousin. He was handsome and smart and he knew it. He was a jerk who called me by his ex-girlfriend’s name. I’m over it. It wasn’t love. It wasn’t even like. It was a great concert, but a not so great a date.
I always wonder, looking back in that rear view mirror we call perspective a.k.a. life, if love is the answer, what exactly is the question. I find that easier to know now, decades later, that love is complicated and layered. It has good days and not good days. I sometimes look at my FHB and think “who are you?” and then I remember, you’re the man I choose to be with, even when it is a lousy day when I am both irritating and irritable. More than that, I am apparently the person he chooses to be with when he is grumpish (made that word up, available for all to use) or obnoxious (or maybe that’s me). I met my FHB on a Monday and from that point forward after having a cup of coffee followed by dinner (which he counted as date #2), we just proceeded along like two friends who continue to share a good conversation. Not all the conversations are easy but we don’t avoid them. If I believed in Valentine’s Day as more than a commercial ploy to sell chocolate and roses, I would say he is my Valentine. I don’t need one day to celebrate, I need them all, 365 of them.
For those who celebrate…enjoy the day.