Monday, February 14, 2011

My Funny Valentine

 Our wedding day.
For Valentine’s Day this year, Seth and I decided that, as our gift to one another, we would refrain from trying to kill each other for a 24 hour period.

Don’t be shocked.This is a generous and affectionate gift after 29 years of togetherness.

Lately, we’ve become like the Pink Panther and Cato—never sure when the other will leap from behind a pile of laundry to engage in mortal combat, spiraling like aging pinwheels through the house until, exhausted, one of us gives up—until next time.
      
Being married for a long time is both a blessing and well, another kind of blessing. I can read Seth’s mind. Literally. I’ve proven it many times. It’s as if his thoughts travel across his rapidly enlarging forehead in the same digitalized font as news travels around the tickers in Times Square.

I can also tell you exactly what he is going to say before he says it. Depending upon location, specific landmarks provoke pre-recorded comments like “Who the hell would paint their house that color”? Or, upon passing a tag sale, “Why would I want to buy someone else’s crap-- I have my own damn crap!”

 I realize that I have pre-recorded comments of my own that he anticipates but he will never read my mind.

I remain an enigma whose thought process is encased in a lead shield of mystery. This is also known as being a woman. We may be predictable on certain levels but, even after years of trying to crack the code, our thoughts remain our own. 

It occurred to me, with a enormous degree of shock, that I might annoy him as much as he annoys me. It’s true that he’s the one who falls asleep in front of the TV with his mouth open wide enough to swallow our bedroom set. But am I not the one who staggers to the kitchen in the morning to greet him with a post-sleep hairdo (a vortex whose varying shape, he claims, I use to communicate with my home planet) so frightening that any sane man would gag and hurry towards an exit? Yet he does not…he kisses me hello and says something pleasant. The bastard.

Previous Valentine’s Days would find us scrambling to get a table at a cozy restaurant or acting surprised when a dozen roses appeared.

As the years progressed, I’d had enough with the roses as well as being rushed through a meal. I think being together a long time makes you a realist—about your partner as well as yourself.

In a long-term marriage, realism is usually tempered by enough compassion and friendship to soften the edges of that hard-won realism. For example, I should probably have removed the previous comment about Seth’s forehead….
      
One of my favorite Valentines was received as a little girl from my mother. It may have been my first conscious Valentine, because I remember expressing surprise when I was presented with a lovely bouquet of Charms lollipops for no apparent reason.

My mother explained that, one day, there might be a special someone who would be my Valentine but until then I was hers and she was mine. I remember saying the same to my sons when they were little.

I still tell them that, not just on Valentine’s Day but until Seth is able to get the net over my head and my world, temporarily, goes black. Back then little boy kisses were offered with home made cards. Nothing could have made me happier. 
 
Sometimes I wonder about future generations of Valentine givers.

Kids have come to expect instantaneous gratification at the click of a mouse or the flourish of a Wii wand. Will they expect that same immediacy from their relationships with humans?

Marriage is about compromise and patience, things not widely taught in tech class. The divorce rate was already high before all this began so who knows. What I do know is that it’s definitely worth the pay-off if you can hang in there.
    
So, what do you do with a man who is so good and kind that he robs you daily of your normal vitriol, tries diligently to diffuse your natural negativity and does not leave you because of your morning hairdo? You marry him.

Happy Valentine's Day to all with love.

13 comments:

  1. "What I do know is that it’s definitely worth the pay-off if you can hang in there."

    Sometimes we need that reminder, that little nudge that says "don't take it for granted; look at what you have. Push through and the work you put in will be repayed tenfold."

    As my daughter has coined it, Happy Love Day!

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  2. Agreed....and you know when to "hang in there."

    Happy "Love Day" to you and your family, Alicia...enjoying the milder weather?

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  3. Great post! Happy Love Day! I like that :-)

    I definitely know what you mean about hanging in there. I shutter to think of what I would have missed if I threw in the towel every time I thougth about it many years ago.

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  4. compromise, patience and the threat to shave an eyebrow off in the middle of the night :-) I don't know anyone else who would put up with me, or whom I could be bothered with - I guess that ends up as love. PS Great Grammy's - that Bieber kid didn't win !!! Yay

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  5. In a few months Doug and I will celebrate our 29th too. And for most of that time, we've worked together. Some days can be quite a trial. So I can really relate everything you said. There aren't many people that make me laugh out loud, but you do.

    Happy VD kiddo.

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  6. Yes, Janet!! I have no idea who Esperanza Spalding but I was so glad that she received "best new" instead of that little weirdo.

    And I never thoughtof shaving of an eyebrow---that's brilliant!

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  7. Michele...Seth and I will be married for 27 next month...together for 29....working together, though? That mightbe grounds for murder.

    Since you make me laugh out loud, I am thrilled to be able to return the favor.

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  8. Maria! I'm glad there was no towel throwing in your past....

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  9. Colin and I worked together twice - no problem whatsever. Up until two weeks ago we were in the same building.

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  10. The most poignant quote I heard about love was this, "People don't belong together but they choose each other every day."

    To me, love means putting another person first, wanting the best possible good for them. In fact, one (not specifically romantic) way to say I love you in Italian is, "Ti voglio bene" or "I want good for you." I find it to be one of the most beautiful ways to convey that choice.

    Thanks for sharing!! Will keep this in mind for the future.......:-)

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  11. This is so true! I can't really say much though, because Joe and I aren't married even though we've been together for 4.5 years (?!?!?!?!) :)

    I think people of my generation give up on relationships too easily. Divorce is too common, we grew up with it, it's normal. That's not right. I want to be married once. Forever.

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  12. Katie, you have the heart of romatic!

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  13. Big Dinosaur's name is Joe!!?? Wow.

    4.5 years is a long time, Cat...and who says I'm going to only be married once????

    Kidding, Seth.

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