"The Sweetest Season", originally written by
Jacqueline Wood around Valentine's Day 2005
Jacqueline Wood around Valentine's Day 2005
Winter being 'not quite over', but summer being so far away, things didn't seem very hopeful (as usual). It's not as if this year was any different than any other year. The halls were abuzz with laughter, chatter and romance was in the air. All of the girls and guys awaited the weekly school newspaper even more than ever this week because they knew that they would surely find a romantic dedication from 'that special love.' It was a magical time for any teenager… 'Any teenager…' I thought, 'Except for me.' Nevertheless and as hopeless at it seemed, I would await the same prospect with great eagerness.
The season was always one of bright intensity. Every storefront and every isle was laden with hot pink, saucy red hearts and candy. With flowers blooming everywhere, roses were on the verge of a nervous breakdown begging for sales. It was as if Cupid himself went on a reckless night of alcohol binging and puked up a Love Fest!
The big day finally came. As always, the excitement would grow, waiting… wondering (Is it possible? Maybe this year I will have my secret admirer and he will illustrate his passion in the form of a beautiful, single red Rose and/or a frilly balloon that screams to the world "I LOVE YOU!!!" Well, maybe not the whole world but at least the whole school). Just once I wanted to be like all those other girls, to walk into the office and the secretary to say "Jackie, we have a delivery for you." However hopeful, Valentine's Day was never momentous for a girl like me… and most of the time a crushing disappointment--Until I got home, that is, to find that Dad had bought my mother and me a big heart-shaped box of chocolates without fail. So, I would once again, drown my loveless sorrows in the sweet confection.
Adulthood hadn't been much better. Either spent my time depressed and crying over someone who had stood me up, or someone who was unattainable. Every year was the same, except for Dad's Old Faithful box-of-chocolates. In fact, I can count one year—the most memorable year—that I was surprised by a gift so thoughtful, so sweet. It was from a man! And it wasn't my Dad and it wasn't candy!!! He brought me a ceramic angel with a sweet card that read "So Glad We're Friends! From Me to You, Z" (Z was his 'nickname'). What an intense-long month we'd spent, meeting after work, flirting all through work, even taking Friday off and spending the whole day together. Holy Cow, this is it—this is L-O-V-E… what everyone had been shouting about forever, and what I'd been waiting for since I was probably 10 years old and in love with 'The Fonz"! But as sweet and special as that moment was, and as much as I can never forget it OR 'Him', it wasn't Love. It could've been, I guess at the expense of someone's family, and that wasn't me... not deep down.
That perfect Valentine ended, but life went on with or without my happiness, more Valentine's days came and went. Still, I waited, hoped and prayed and continued to make my mistakes and failures. Someone should have told us that life was this sour. Shouldn't our parents have warned us that it was this way? Instead, I remembered my parents telling me "You've only just begun, and you have your entire life ahead of you—the best is yet to come." ("Phooey!" I cursed)
This past weekend, as I deemed 'Valentine Weekend' (much to his chagrin), my husband and I spent it doing almost nothing. We went out to eat a couple times, watched movies, played video games and laughed. Many hugs and kisses were shared as they always are in my house—It was the way I was raised and luckily, he fits right into it—even though he wasn't raised that way. We are from opposite sides of the track: I was overprotected, and he could've stood a good bit more protection growing up… I guess our childhoods make us who we are and he's pretty good in my book.
He's just not your classic 'Valentine-Romeo', doesn't do 'flowers' or 'romantic poems'. He says the right thing about 70 percent of the time and the wrong thing maybe 30, and he forgets to pick up after himself a lot of the time, and he takes the garbage out 3 Fridays out of 4. He loses his tools and he can't find his socks and screams "Bear! Bring me a towel' when I've forgotten to leave one in the bathroom. He loves me, and I don't need a single beautiful rose (or even a dozen) to see it. Ok. He's not perfect, but he's my family he feels like "Family"—like my Mom and Dad and sisters. It's real and it's love--THAT is the greatest gift… Every day is a 'teenage slumber party'. I can't remember him not being part of my life now.
He called me at the end of yesterday to ask me "What's the name of your company?" I told him, but I asked "Why? You need it for the income tax forms or something?" He tried to be evasive but it was apparent that he was trying to do something sneaky in honor of the 'over-exploited, marketing scheme of a holiday' that we love so much. I felt as though my stories of my childhood and my 'hinting' (thinking I needed some gift to show it) had possibly pressured him into thinking he had to—but he says it was something he just wanted to do. (Yeah?)
By now, the frilly balloons of 'the pretty girls' in school have surely busted, and their Valentine's Days may or may not be good ones. I used to think that I wanted what they had, but I ended up with so much more than that—I ended up with the real thing, a true heart, not just one filled with chocolate or helium.
Winter is not quite over, and summer is still a bit far away, but that's just fine because I am 'Home'.