“When is Valentine’s?” Michael asked. We were sitting in the living room with our daughters. Supper was almost ready. Adventure Time blared on the TV.
“It’s this Friday,” I said.
“I know it’s on a Friday but when?”
“It’s on a Friday this year?”
“Yes.” Michael and I have been married thirteen years. I know him well enough to know this discussion is a playful ploy to avoid any gift shopping. Before holidays like these, his usual plea is he ran out of time or didn’t know what to get. I said, “You need hurry up and go find a card professing your love for me.”
“But when is it?”
“I know it’s a Friday but when?”
I moved my focus from Princess Bubble Gum to Michael. I stared, waiting for him to give it up.
“Are you trying to Abbott-and-Costello me?” I said. He laughed.
I stopped feeling annoyed.
He had returned home from work, blank-faced and weary. He had hung up his coat, plopped on the couch with the girls, and turned on one of his favorite cartoons. Even when I had laughed at the show’s dialogue, he remained quiet. His banter now meant he had decompressed. He was ready to enjoy the night with us.
“You have a few more days,” I said. “I still want a card. A sweet, funny one that says you’re glad I’m your wife.”
“Oh, you don’t want that. You don’t want any of those things.”
True. I don’t want expensive jewelry, chocolate, or a white teddy bear with a heart on its belly. But I do want a card. If Written Notes were one of The 5 Love Languages* it would be one of mine. I like written correspondence. I like the idea of Michael standing in front of a wall of cards reading one card after another until he finds one written just for us. The words, the font, the colorful design cause him to gush with tearful sentiment in honor of me.
(Oh, it’s possible. Some man is out there gushing in the card aisle right now.)
I ask for cards for Mother’s Day, my birthday, and Valentine’s. He seldom delivers.
He typed a few lines for Mother’s Day a few years ago. He surprised me last year by coordinating the artistic efforts of our three daughters into a mural. But other than that, he is not one to write a love poem or buy any Hallmark wit.
Michael’s idea romance involves a booth at a local pub and two frosty Amber Bocks. Beer is one thing that keeps us together. For my birthday, he called me in the middle of the day from work and said I was free to leave when he got home. That was it. No card. No gift. No plan to execute. I had to find a friend at the last minute to enjoy a steak dinner and wine in pure principle of it being my birthday. I had to translate his gesture into a kind one. He thought watching the kids and sending me out the door better than cake and candles and, yes, a card.
A card is a simple, yet intentional gesture. It marks our time together with words. I am delusional enough to keep asking, optimistic enough to keep hoping.
Inspired by the DPchallenge prompt: What is your Valentine’s Story?
*The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman