In my youth, I pined for large gestures of love. The bigger the demonstration, I believed, the deeper the emotion that was felt. And Valentine’s Day was the pinnacle of my hopes and expectations.
When I used to travel into NYC for weekly meetings, I’d spend my rides home imagining my (then) boyfriend waiting on the platform of the Hicksville train station as I pulled in, standing before a 3-pc orchestra, wearing a tux, holding a dozen, large, deep-red roses with a ring hidden in his pocket. In front of all of the disembarking passengers, he’d get down on his knee and pronounce his undying love, produce the ring and propose marriage. I’d say yes, through tears, and fall into his arms, while a violin played a sonnet from Boheme and the circle that formed around us clapped and whistled.
Then the doors would slide open and I’d shake off my dreamy reverie as I climbed down the stairs to find him waiting in his idling car. He’d drive me home and return back to work to finish his day.
I was twenty-five and had clearly seen too many movies.
I’m married now for 17 years, with two children and entirely different expectations. The grand gestures I pined for have been replaced by gratitude for subtle daily messages of love. What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that my boyfriend drove me to the station in the morning so I wouldn’t have to look for parking and left work in the middle of the day to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to take a cab or walk home.
This same man, who I married (proposal to be kept private), is still happy to see me every morning, even though I’m less than friendly for the first hour of the day, makes me breakfast on the weekend so I can enjoy my coffee and read, regularly fills my gas tank in the winter so I don’t have to, mouths I love you over the heads of our bickering children to make me smile, assembles a beautiful cheese/grapes/meats platter with wine on a random Tuesday evening, so we can sit and enjoy each others’ company.
No hot air balloons. No sky-writing over the surf. No 3-pc orchestra at a train station.
He’s taught me that love isn’t measured in grand gestures or public declarations. It’s not found in the Hallmark cards written in someone else’s words. It’s knowing that as we climb into bed at the end of another long day, there’s nowhere else in the world he’d rather be.
I still enjoy Valentine’s Day. Cards and flowers are nice but not necessary (chocolate, however, is). What’s more important to me are the daily displays of affection and thoughtful gestures.
I hope your day, like every day, is filled with love.