This weekend led me to reflect on the relationship I have with my husband, and the relationship we started with, back in the stone age -circa 2005. I was not the easiest girl to fall in love with. I was difficult, temperamental, suspicious, unaffectionate and was unintentionally very hard to get. My then-boyfriend Jack was persistent. If I hung up on him, he’d call back. If I didn’t answer, he’d turn up. I never let him pay for anything, I never let him organise anything, if something was happening, it was my idea, and I was in control. If I was upset, I took it out on him and he let me. He became smitten with a girl who was often volatile, irrational and truthful to a fault. It was no Romeo and Juliet, but look how that ended anyway.
I remember for Valentines Day that year, I hadn’t given any requests, or dropped any of those hints we all become familiar with, as we get comfortable in a relationship. We were still ‘new’ – and that, coupled with my fierce independence, meant I wasn’t asking for or planning on accepting any gift from any guy for a ‘made up’, purely commercial holiday. Jack, never one willing to take no for an answer, quietly planned my gift anyway – one which still rates as the most thoughtful and romantic gift I have received to this day.
I remember the suspense of it all. He kept me out of my bedroom while he set the present up, he led me into the room with my eyes shut – it was just like something straight out of The Notebook, except we were (and are) less attractive.
When I opened my eyes, I scanned the room for this gift. It took a moment or two but eventually I saw it. He had built me a bookcase.
Not only that, but he had built me a bookcase that was full of books. Each one was individually wrapped, so as you can imagine, being a passionate book lover – I took great pleasure in unwrapping each one. There were classics I had read, yet never purchased, there were familiar authors and a treasure trove of literature I had yet to read. Judging by the way I was back then, I probably played it decidedly cool, but inside, I was hit for six. As jaded as I was – I couldn’t ignore the romance of it, and after that, Valentines Day became a favourite for me.
Since then, Jack and I have shared many more Valentines Days together – and we have always exchanged a little something to mark the occasion. That is, until we had children three years ago. I loathe the idea of being a cliché, but since the kids have been around, we’ve been lucky to even remember Valentines Day, let alone gift giving. Many people will come back with ‘you just have to make time for romance’ and ‘if it’s important to you, you’ll make it happen’ – but living in my world (the real world, by the way), where it takes twenty-five minutes to get out of the house, where every conversation we have is interrupted with ‘I want ice cream’ on repeat, where finding clean underwear for every member of the family to wear for the day is a miracle alone – sometimes there just isn’t any time to find, or make, or create, or steal. So when those stolen moments seem far away, try not to worry too much. It will resurface. It’s probably hidden in an old Huggies box full of clothes you’ve been meaning to sort through and it will turn up soon enough, I promise.
So… this morning when I woke up – I remembered it was Valentines Day, but had no expectations of any romance reminiscent of times gone by.
When my husband rolled over, he looked (lovingly?) into my eyes and said it’s your turn to get up early today. See what I mean?
Love huh! Happy Valentines Day.