I’m an idealist. So I often fantasize about someone knowing the Exact Most Perfect Version of what I want and presenting it to me on a platter at the precise time when I most need it. Shockingly, the result of this practice has been a fair amount of disappointment.
Even when my family would scratch it all together and throw me a surprise 15th birthday party, I would notice all the ways it fell short of my perfect, Platonic Ideal of a 15th birthday party.
I’m sorry, Mom and Dad and Maxine. It really was a delightful party.
And yes, this brings us to Valentine’s Day. What a horrendous notion for a holiday, for us fantasizing idealists and their partners.
Seven years ago, AJ and I flew home from New Zealand on February 14th. It was the tail end of a year and a half of gallivanting around the world as only two newly married people without children can do. We crashed in hostels, caught a scary bus in Ljubljana, marveled over this tree in Hong Kong
and worked on organic farms in Spain and New Zealand. For weeks after we bought the flight home, I kept slipping little underhanded comments in for AJ. “We’re flying home on Valentine’s Day.” “Did you know that since we’re flying over the International Date Line that we’re going to have 2 Valentine’s Days?”
“I’m desperate for you to do the perfect thing for me on Valentine’s day.”
This was on the heels of the previous Valentine’s day, when we wandered around in Amsterdam for hours looking for a place to eat dinner, and I kept thinking that AJ had a Valentine’s surprise tucked up his sleeve. When I finally asked, he admitted he didn’t even remember what day it was. I gushed out my disappointment and tears all over those charming European paving stones.
You know how this ends. On the magical mystery flight through two Valentine’s Days, AJ didn’t plan anything. I cried and cried. And then he scrambled and scribbled together a whole stack of handmade valentines and gave me one every hour from his shirt pocket.
I am delighted to report that we have evolved since then. I gave up the Valentine’s Day ghost, as it were, and had a few years of just protesting the whole thing. And AJ has taken to remembering and doing nice things for me on this commercial trap of a holiday. Last year, things were so blurred by pregnancy and home ownership and scrambling to rent a duplex that AJ hugged me, and that felt sufficient. Yesterday, AJ raised the topic of what we should do, and I said, “I want you to buy me flowers from that place by the fish market.” And he did. I wasn’t disappointed.