Valentine Memories

Somewhere between elementary and high school our hearts turn St. Valentine’s Day into something more.  It started out as cartoon character cards with names scribbled on them taped to candy hearts for classmates. It then evolved into a day of unrealistic expectations and disappointment for so many. Some refer to it as S.A.D. (Single Awareness Day).

My father, being a man of extraordinary sensitivity, started buying me roses when I hit high school. These were not just ANY roses. They were long-stemmed, size-of-your-fist beauties. You almost had to touch or smell them to know they were real. The card always said something to the effect of “Remember that daddy did this before some stupid, hairy-legged boy.” I laughed. I cried. It was so sweet and made me feel special. It was the perfect thing to come home to after a torturous day of watching kids swap spit in hallways over a $10 candygram. My mother, in her wisdom, usually had some cute trinket for me and of course chocolate. My parents had things pretty locked down for me. I am really thankful for all they did. At the time, I would think “This stuff would be even more awesome if it was from a cute guy.” but I have since come to reconsider. I realize now those things mean so much more coming from them than from some stupid boy.

After high school, I began to date this fella named David Conlee and I could not be happier. We’d been dating for about 6 months when Valentine’s Day rolled around (1998). I was unbelievably excited. I’d never actually had a Valentine. This was for real!  I have to be honest, we were SERIOUS. We were discussing marriage. We were making plans for our future. Imagine my surprise upon my asking what our plans were for Valentine’s Day that he had arranged absolutely nothing. This was remarkably uncharacteristic of David. (In his defense, he just thought being together and hanging out was special because I am SO wonderful.) He quickly learned of my disappointment, and devised a plan to remedy it.

February 14, 1998 was a blustery day in the Bay Area. David showed up at my door with rain slickers & hats (think Gorton’s Fisherman) from the Navy surplus store. I laughed, “What are these for?”  “We are going for a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge.”  We hopped in the car and made our way to San Francisco. When we arrived, we suited up in our rain gear we then made our way to the bridge. As we walked along this iconic San Francisco landmark, drivers began honking & yelling.  The rain began to fall harder, and the wind began to pick up. In fact, the wind literally picked me up off my feet! Thankfully, David was holding my hand. He said, “Maybe we should head back before the wind carries you away!” Still a bit shaken up, I nodded yes and we turned back toward the direction of our vehicle.  Once safe inside the car, we were silent. Then we burst into laughter. We headed over to Pier 39 for a bite to eat, then he took me home. We still laugh about this night, and refer to it as “the Valentine’s Day where Jenny Lind (me) almost flew off the Golden Gate Bridge”.

If you’re single, don’t be sad. Focus on making the day special for someone else – like my parents did for me. Dads, do something cool for your daughters. Husbands & boyfriends, don’t be lame. Take care of your ladies. (Ladies, don’t be crazy. If there’s something you WANT to do, TELL THEM NOW FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY!) Be creative. It doesn’t have to cost a lot or be a grand gesture. We just like to know we are thought of.

You have 12 days to figure it out. Tick. Tock.

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