Usually I keep all the sappy junk away from this little space. Truth be told I don’t think in sappy terms most of the time, so that is probably half the reason. But today is Valentine’s day. So either like it or get over it.
There is this magical way of forgetting the way things were when those things take a sudden and dramatic change. I can’t imagine living by myself like I did for a couple of years in college. I can’t imagine what it is like to not have to let the dog out every night before bed. I can’t imagine someone not throwing their leg across me in the middle of the night pinning me down.
The memories of life before the girl are similarly starting to fade. What, for instance did I do on the weekends when the wife worked and I had time to myself? How did it feel to sleep in until 6:45 every morning before day care? What was it like to actually watch a movie with wife and actually hear the words instead of watching the subtitles because that is the girl’s time to talk the loudest? I still remember the answer to these questions, but it is a little fuzzy around the edges.
There is one question that has changed the most in my life. What is love? The answer is not the same as it was 8 years ago on our first Valentine’s day together.
First of all, that was a complete disaster. We went to college about 2 1/2 hours apart, so getting together involved one of us driving to the other on the weekend. Vday fell on a Monday that year. She came over to my apartment. I decided to be all romantic and buy rose petals and spread them out, mostly because I didn’t have enough money to buy actual flowers since I was saving every dime I had to buy a ring. I made dinner, which likely involved rice since I would buy it in a 50 lbs bag and make it for every meal for the same reason as the petals.
Rose petals, as it turns out, has a magical way of staining light colored futon covers, just FYI for any other poor kids out there.
Monday I get this rather angry call expressing how bad of a boyfriend I am since I didn’t send her a Valentine’s day card. I thought the whole weekend experience was enough, turns out I could have just skipped it and bought a card. She really loves her cards, something I’ve never forgotten again.
Love back then was about trying to please. Trying to make magic where none really existed. It was about making mistakes and trying to find the right words to fix them. It was awkward and unruly. It was an untamed beast that would either run away alone or take you with it to a new beginning.
This morning the wife and I took our few minutes in passing together. I made her a cup of coffee and she gave me my Valentine card. I had taken the opportunity to give her the one I bought for her yesterday because I wasn’t sure how much time we would get.
I gave her that ring that forced me to only eat rice and buy rose petals 8 years ago, and another one several years later. Last spring she gave me a daughter in return. That daughter threw a fit this morning when she realized that I was taking her to day care instead of sitting at home with her for another not-so-snowy snow day. After giving her a bottle she laid her head on my shoulder and repeatedly whispered in my ear ever so softly “dada. dada. dada”.
Love is now magic in every corner, waiting to be discovered not created. It is about overcoming perfection and hoping for a mistake, because you just might find something wild and unexpected. It is confident and controlled. It is being the world to someone and having them return the favor.
That is what love is.
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