After 31 years in the United States, I find myself more American than I ever expected to be, yet not so American in many ways.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
When I was growing up in England, sending a signed Valentine's Day card was considered to be incredibly naff, not to mention unromantic. I still have a hard time signing Valentines even though I'm obviously only sending one and if DH didn't know it was from me there would be something odd going on! There was none of this sending signed cards to everyone in your class in elementary school so that no one felt left out. Actually, I don't remember celebrating Valentine's Day in elementary school at all.
I think the only Valentine's Day I really have any recollection of from when I was in school, was 8th grade. ('Year nine' it's called in England now I believe, but it was 'third year' at the comp.) I actually had a boyfriend. It was the only year I had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day the entire seven years I was at that school. His name was Tim. He was tall, dark haired, and had gorgeous brown eyes. It was years before I could go out with anyone else with brown eyes after Tim.
We got each other Valentine's cards of course. It was the first romantic Valentine I ever got, so it was a big deal. I remember waiting with anticipation to see how romantic the card he got for me would be. It wasn't as simple as just giving each other our cards. Given the tradition that the cards were supposed to be unsigned, you had to find a way of anonymously getting the card to the other person. Of course you hoped they would only get the one card. I had a friend who sent two to the same boy, and then dumped him when he didn't tell her about the second one! I forget how Tim's card got to me, but I remember asking a mutual friend to deliver my card to Tim's locker. I doubt there was much focusing on school work that morning!
When his card was as romantic as I had hoped, I was delighted and also, to my surprise, a little scared. I'm not sure how much longer the relationship lasted after that, but the whole thing only lasted a few weeks. I dumped him. I didn't even tell him myself. I asked the same mutual friend who had delivered the card, (the same friend Tim had used as a go-between to ask me out in the first place,) to tell him I didn't want to go out with him any more. I never explained to him why - that I was terrified because I liked him so much. I was only 13 and my body was reacting to him in ways I knew I wasn't ready for and the only way I knew to deal with it was to back off. I didn't have the social skills or experience to handle it any better. Of course, even if I had explained, he wouldn't have understood. Fortunately we weren't in the same classes and didn't see too much of each other around school. Nonetheless, after that, it was four years before he spoke a single word to me.
Over the years there were some depressing Valentine's Days with no prospects of any romance, and some so-so, predictable, ones. My first Valentine's Day with DH was neither. It's a long story, but involves him sitting outside my apartment in frigid weather thinking I'm out when in fact I was home. He'd driven over an hour to see me (on a work night, no less) and sat outside for almost an hour before I finally realized he was there and opened the door. He had a helium-filled balloon for me that never recovered from the wait in the cold, and he's never let me forget his devotion that night.
DH has promised me a bottle of blackcurrant lambic instead of chocolates this year. Probably not much better in terms of calories, but at least it's low fat and will get both of us in a very snuggly mood! He then surprised me tonight with flowers. He is such a sweetie :-) I'm SO glad I broke up with Tim, and the other boyfriends I had over the years - DH was worth the (very long) wait! I hope he thinks I was worth the wait on that very cold porch 12 years ago!