Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Where has the heart gone?
The only color today was on the Valentine cards. Icy rain painted the day grey-- grey sky, grey puddles and grey trees almost erased by the steady downpour. Inside the classroom was a traditional Valentine's Day that is never found beyond fifth grade, the kind of Valentine's Day we never forget. Stuffing cards in decorated boxes, opening and reading every word on every card and counting the cards afterwords, wondering if Bobby meant what it said on his card: You rocket me to the moon, Valentine.
In the real world, the adult world, the day has lost its gloss. We know that it's about the merchants: the florists, the jewelers, the candy makers. Oh, and Hallmark, definitely. I remember when it was a pleasure, not a chore to get a Valentine for my husband. A time when I read the verses on each card to find just the right one. A time when I chose a funny one *and* a romantic one. I remember bags holding gifts nestled in tissue paper on the kitchen table, waiting for me to wake up and go down for breakfast. I remember hiding treats under his pillow. No more. It's become a duty to keep the tradition going. When we stop, what will that mean?
I stopped in the supermarket on the way home from school to get a card and "something." The something turned out to be a fancy treat from the bakery, and a solid chocolate heart; they'd be appreciated. But the card-- I struggled with the cards-- they'd been picked over, lots of empty spots. I vied for space with three guys. I guess most women aren't as last minute as I am. I couldn't find anything that felt right. They were way too gushy. Years ago maybe, but now, they just don't apply. I thought briefly of getting a "love of my life" one, a, "if I had to do it all over again, I would" kind, and be done with it, but I couldn't. There have been other times, too, birthdays and Christmases, that I've found myself in front of the cards after a fight or some miserable spell where my flaws have been repeatedly pointed out, my mistakes marveled at, and I just couldn't stomach the overflow of sticky, unconditional love. I thought I had found lasting love this time around. I thought for sure this was it. But it isn't. And choosing a card makes it painfully obvious.
My potted tea roses are on the window sill. His candy is half eaten. I'm upstairs and he's down, and the only kiss I've had today is the foil wrapped one the Dunkin' Donuts girl gave me with my coffee this morning.