Saturday, February 13, 2010

un-valentine's day.

In honor of the holiday I love the least, this week I’m sharing some of my own relationship mishaps (relationship is a term to be used, in this case, very loosely). If nothing else, these stories remind me: Thank goodness I married Jordan.

From this This American Life episode.


Jordan and I had been hanging out for only a few months before February 14 was scheduled to roll around, and I dreaded it. When you’re single, Valentine’s Day is a cruel reminder of what the world tells you you’re missing, and when you’re dating (or married), it’s just another over-commercialized holiday putting pressure on your restaurant manners and gift-giving capabilities.

I’d never had a good Valentine’s Day, but secretly, I was hoping that would change with Jordan. I was crossing my fingers for a low-key but fun holiday. And what better way to be low-key than to go on a double date!*

Silly, silly me.

As Jordan and I piled into a car with Tony and Jennifer,** we realized something was amiss. There was an extra person in the car. Patrick.** Patrick hadn’t had any Valentine’s plans and had asked to come along. I’m not sure who gave him permission, but his addition to our party just made the entire situation all that more uncomfortable. But hey, this was college! And I wasn't about to kick the fifth wheel to the curb.

We ate dinner at our favorite pizza place. Dinner itself would have been lovely, were it not for the fact that Tony and Jennifer were “in love”—with each other’s hands. They would not. stop. touching.

Since Jordan and I were doing things a little differently (i.e., sans hands, lips, and any longing eye contact), this was awkward—and slightly mortifying. Patrick cracked lame jokes the entire evening, I'm sure to put everyone at ease, but it wasn't working. It was annoying.

I kept crossing my fingers that maybe, dinner would be enough. We’d all go our separate ways, and the remainder of the night I could crawl into my bed and watch You’ve Got Mail or Gilmore Girls reruns.

Instead, Tony, ever the romantic, thought it would be a good idea to go to a park. After sunset. In February.

It was freezing, and quite frankly, it’s not really romantic to swing on a swing set with snot running down your face. It's just gross.

As Jordan and I stood around, carefully not touching, Tony and Jennifer made out with their eyes (and sometimes their tongues) and Patrick continued his monologue for an audience of none.

Jordan dropped me off at the dorm that evening, apology in his eyes. I smiled, realizing that a great relationship doesn’t require chalky conversation hearts or expensive candlelit dinners or fragrant roses. And I told him so.

I told him that Valentine’s Day was a silly holiday, and our rather unsuccessful double date was just further proof that we were good for each other. I told him that I thought Valentine’s Day was a waste, that people who really loved each other would send flowers and go on dates on February 15 and February 16… not on one heart-shaped day out of the year.

And so, on February 15, I was given my first bouquet of daisies (Tom’s most definitely do not count).

“Happy Day After Valentine’s Day,” the card read.

And that was the best thing he could have ever done.


I hope these stories prove at least one thing: Love is hard.

We’ve all been broken. We’ve all had our share of hurts and frustrations, thoughtless words that landed sharply and twisted our hearts into pieces.

Even if we are careful, even if we date thoughtfully and cautiously, hurt is involved. Love is not perfect. Relationships can be painful. Awkward moments abound (and thank goodness, because truthfully, they make the best stories).

Here’s the thing: Life isn’t a romantic comedy. Ryan Reynolds isn’t waiting around the corner to rescue me when I drown, Tom Hanks is getting old, and in real life, Matthew McConaughey doesn’t wear deodorant.

Love—the authentic kind—requires hard work, diligence, and patience.

That’s how it’s supposed to be.

It’s paying bills and throwing pillows and burning dinner and yelling and still being able to say “I love you” at the end of the day.

That’s the kind of love I wish for you this Valentine’s Day.

Not the kind that comes in a Tiffany’s box, but the kind that grows with time.

*Double dating, as I have mentioned on more occasions than I can count, is the most stressful kind of dating and is not recommended for the faint of heart.

**Names changed to protect the innocent.


Jordan Jones said...

This is hilarious. What a great evening...and just for the record, I believe I had already been planning that day after gig well before the awkwardness of the evening...

Julianne said...

I loved this Annie! Not only did it make me laugh out loud, but you made very good points.

katie said...

Hmmm, I'm trying to figure out who Tony, Jennifer, and Patrick are... haha.