It is the morning after what was supposed to have been the most romantic day of the year. For some of us that was not true at all. For others, well…we’re the lucky ones. Days like Valentines Day get people to do some crazy things “in the name of love.” I wonder how many men who propose on that day wake up to regret it. I was proposed to on Valentine’s Day once. It was a farce, a laughable joke. Everything was there. The chocolates, the wine, the roses, the home cooked meal by him, and he got down on one knee even. But romance is just a really good play that you begin to believe sometimes. I believed it and then I found out the truth. The truth was he had a fake ring and he was already married.
My last Valentines Day in my first marriage was similarly miserable. He was having an affair, but all I knew was he was distant. We went out to dinner and brought a pie home for dessert. My photography equipment was set up in the living room and we had fun taking pictures. We were laughing and I reached down to kiss him and he pushed me away suddenly killing the mood completely. And said, “I have to go to bed.” Just like that. It had all been an act. Tears that night were loud sobs.
Last night what I experienced was real. As I beat my newlywed husband in pool for the 5th game in a row he called me a shrew loud enough for anyone in the vicinity to hear. But everyone in that place knew that we were in love. Maybe because we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Maybe it was our smiles. In fact we even got compliments. Somehow romance was there in that pool hall. Romance was there when we squeezed up to a table for 6 sharing it with three other couples who had their Valentines Day meal in a crowded bar instead of waiting the 2 hours for our own table at a restaurant. That could have killed it for some women. But for some reason it felt spontaneous and fun to me. Maybe because it was. Somehow romance was there after we left our hotel room at 4:00 AM because I couldn’t sleep and started my period but I didn’t have anything with me (no joke). Instead of that being the worst possible thing to happen on a Valentines Day night….it led to the moment that made all that other romance pale in comparison.
We drove down our street remarking how bright the full moon was while listening to the end of Follow Me by John Denver. I said, “Did you hear that? He keeps saying follow me, follow me, through the whole song and then at the end he says, take my hand and I will follow you. Now that’s true love.” And I kissed his hand. He said, “Now you’ve got me going…” And he took his hand away to wipe the tears that were leaking from his eyes. He said, “I love you so much.” As we pulled into the driveway Amazed by Lonestar came on. He turned the volume up, put the truck into park, walked over to my door and took my hand. He held me in his arms and we danced under the moonlight at 4:00 AM in the driveway singing these words to each other, “I don’t know how you do what you do. I’m so in love with you. It just keeps getting better. I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side. Forever and ever.”
No one planned that to happen, it just did. And that’s why I know it was real. That’s how even after being hurt, betrayed, and lied to in my past, why I can trust this man with every ounce of my heart.
No flowers, no box of chocolates will ever top that. There wasn’t just the name of love tagged onto merchandise bought at a store.
We walked into the house and climbed the stairs up to our bed to finish our sleep. My husband and I. My perfect Valentines Day.
I’m so grateful for the failed Valentines Days of my past. With all their polish and promise, they never amounted to much. Except they got me to where I am today. And I hope if you had a fail day yesterday that you can take something to heart from this for you. True love does have a way of being the opposite of your dreams and fantasies. True love is gritty, messy, but strong. It isn’t a fleeting feeling. It’s like this quote from Jody Picoult, “Love is not an equation, it is not a contract, and it is not a happy ending. Love is the slate under the chalk, the ground that buildings rise, and the oxygen in the air. It is the place you come back to, no matter where your headed.”
True love is real and it has a way of finding you.