Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Valentine's Day

Last year was the first time I ever had a date for Valentine's Day. It was exciting. The very idea of having a date for Valentine's Day meant a lot to me. It was important. The evening, which started out with a lovely dinner that this guy cooked for me at his apartment, devolved into us going into his bedroom and some situations that I was uncomfortable with. Now, I'm no saint, but the amount of pressure exerted and the very extreme reluctance with which he finally took no for an answer weren't okay.

Still, I'd had a date for Valentine's Day! It had never seemed much of a big deal to me, but the year before, I was the only of my 4 roommates to be single. The sum total of my Valentine's Day celebration consisted of a "Grow Your Own Boyfriend" doll (plastic, put it in water, turns into a little red man about 8 inches high) from one roommate, and a box of conversation hearts from my boss, with an inscription that read, "Dear [Boss], Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Kelly." (Who's Kelly?) That year brought home the fact that having a date for Valentine's Day is important, and so having to argue with a guy I barely knew to convince him that when I said I didn't want to spend the night, I meant I didn't want to spend the night seemed a small price to pay for having a date for Valentine's Day.

This year, everything was different. I only kinda sorta had a date for Valentine's Day. Rhett and I will have been dating for one year on the 24th, so we had a more-or-less unspoken agreement that Valentine's Day would take a backseat, and our real date-planning and gift-giving would center on our anniversary 10 days later. I did drop a not-so-subtle hint along the lines of "You'd better buy me chocolate," but I made sure to buy him chocolate, too. (And the heart-shaped box of chocolate I gave him was bigger than the heart-shaped box of chocolate he gave me, so I win! Or do I. . .?) His parents happened to have come into a pair of tickets to a Friday night show at the Kennedy Center, and gave them to us, so our real date was the show his mom arranged for us to see the night before Valentine's Day. We grabbed dinner before that, but nowhere particularly fancy or special (still good, though!), and afterwards went out to celebrate his friend's birthday at a bar. The next morning we each watched Georgetown disappoint separately - I at a friend's apartment, he at a bar with some friends - and then met up in the late afternoon to see a movie. We should do something on Valentine's Day, shouldn't we? (I highly recommend Slumdog Millionaire, by the way.) Being hungry after the movie, we got something to eat. None of it felt like a date, and I'm not sure whether any of it was, although dinner did happen to be at the restaurant where we had our first date - because our first-choice restaurant was too crowded. Happenstance romance. We were supposed to meet some friends of mine that night, but those plans fell through, so we hung out at my apartment and watched TV.

Nothing could have mattered less to me this year than having a "date" for Valentine's Day. All that mattered was having Rhett, and that wasn't manifested in having to be with him, or wanting to spend every second of the day being romantic with him, or needing fancy romantic plans with him. (The chocolate, on the other hand, was much appreciated.) Valentine's Day was so symbolic and so important when I was single, and meant either being alone and lonely or putting up with absolutely anything to make sure I wasn't. Being completely satisfied with my happy and loving relationship, though, means it's symbolic, too - symbolic of that happy and loving relationship. It happens to be a nice day to do what makes us so happy, which is just as much, if not more, watching tv on my couch and being there for each other as it is a fancy dinner, pretty flowers, and an extra romantic date. I can't imagine a Valentine's Day that I would have preferred.

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