By the time y’all read this, Valentine’s will be over, regardless of where you live. But I’m going to indulge in keeping the spirit of the day going because this Valentine’s has proved to be one of the most memorable in recent past for me. You see, for me and my husband, Valentine’s hasn’t tended to be a big deal in the past several years. We’ve been together going on 22 years and this July, we’ll have been married 19—but even beyond that, it’s just not a holiday that we’ve gone out of our way to celebrate because romance and the emotion that underlies the big gestures is there every day. In the little things. The small gestures. Like the fact that when necessary, he gets up in the middle of the night to walk the dog because he knows interrupted sleep makes me crankier than a toddler. Or how, after I spent a week away with our son in New York, I came home to find the rugs vacuumed, the dishes done and put away, and the bed made, because he knows that coming home to a messy house makes me crankier than a toddler.
But most importantly, he gets me. He gets what writing means to me. He gets my frustration when things don’t go my way (and given that this is publishing, how much really does go our way, right?). He went with me to a signing the other day and opened books for me to my preferred signing page when I was signing the stock.
He tells me there’s nothing I can’t do, writing-wise, even when I’m scared out of my mind that oh, hell no, there’s no way I can do this (whatever “this” happens to be at any given moment).
On New Year’s he bought me a stuffed Yoda that talks (scolds, really) when you squeeze him. Saying “Try not! Do or do not! There is no try!” Perfect for those “Oh, hell no,” moments.
Better still, he doesn’t just give blind support. I wouldn’t let him read my work for the longest time, mostly because I was terrified, knowing that he’d be stone-cold honest and my delicate little writer’s ego couldn’t quite handle it at the time. But I finally did. And when he gave me compliments, the highest of which was asking when the next chapters would be ready to go, I knew they were stone-cold honest. Because he would have told me if the pages sucked. Trust me.
So yeah, the romance in our lives is a little unlikely and definitely every day. So color me surprised when I walked into my office yesterday morning to discover a lovely card propped up against an old-fashioned gumball-style dispenser holding M&Ms in varying shades of green. And when I looked more closely, I saw that the candies had phrases on them.
“Do or do not.”
“There is no try.”
Yep. He got me Yoda M&Ms. See?
It both had me giggling madly and tearing up, because once again, he got me. He knows I’m nervous about a new proposal that’s currently out. He knows it scares me because it’s so different from anything I’ve done before. He knows I’m even more scared by the new ideas the lizard brain has been concocting because again, so very different and it’s taking me in directions I never even could have begun imagining as little as two years ago. Or even last year.
The flowers that showed up later—a gorgeous lavender called Ocean Song—were just icing on the cake, but you know, the thing about my husband is that he might have easily done this on just any random Thursday. That’s what makes him so special—what makes the romance in our lives so enduring. That it happened on Valentine’s just gives it that extra bit of sweetness—and gave me a good excuse to run to the grocery store and pick up some cupcakes to go with the dinner I was making.
I guess that’s really at the root of the type of romance I’ve always been drawn to, both as a reader and a writer. Those slice of life moments, full of little, every day sorts of things. Not that there’s not something appealing about the big, over the top, our-love-will-endure-even-past-death-Titanic sort of love story, but it’s the quiet, intimate love story that I’m drawn to, time and again.
So, that’s my true romance. What about you?