I like holidays, even the ones that are basically around to keep Hallmark going, and Valentine's Day has never been an exception. If I'm single, I go out with girlfriends or have a nice bath with some chocolates. If I'm with someone, I bake a cake or buy a small gift. But this Valentine's Day will also be an anniversary. I've told this story on GT before, but the date looms near so here it is again. Last year, after months of having a fucking great time being single in a large city, I logged on to deactivate my okcupid account (my roster was, ahem, full and getting unmanageable) when a face popped up on my homepage. I'll spare you the list of reasons; suffice it to say that I had to meet this person. I messaged him, we went back and forth a bit, and I considered my schedule: my next free day happened to be Valentine's Day, and I was going on a weekend trip the day after. Knowing how the fire tends to fizzle via messaging if you wait to long to meet someone, I proposed that we just say 'fuck it' and go do the pinkest, laciest, most romantic stuff we could find on Valentine's Day. And then maybe watch some House of Cards. He was enthusiastic about the plan.
So the day comes. It was RIDICULOUS. We met at a chocolate shop, and he made a big deal of taking my hand and kissing it and saying "romance!" before even saying hello. He was so goofy and sweet, just so comfortably himself, no macho bravado, no pseudo-intellectual bullshitting either. Just a cute, silly gamer guy with a big smile and an even bigger laugh. We chatted a while over chocolates and coffee, about our favorite books and shows, our families, the usual stuff, then walked to another place for dinner. The show we wanted to see was sold out, so we did some window-shopping and then got an iced coffee. Not because we wanted any, but because we wanted to drink something with two straws in the same glass. Because romance. We laughed so hard the entire time and everyone in the place probably hated us. After that, I proposed going to his place to watch the new season of House of Cards, and we bought a bottle of champagne along the way, because champagne is necessary for romance. The lady at the counter asked if we wanted it wrapped with a little gift card attached, so we said yes and addressed a short note to ourselves twenty minutes in the future. I don't think we drank even half of it. We turned on HoC and started making out—pausing only when THAT THING happened in the first episode—and wound up going to town on each other until 5am. He drove me home the next morning, an hour before I had to leave for my trip. I don't think he spent more than ten nights in his own apartment after that, and in June, he officially joined my lease and moved all his things in.
Before, I didn't think first impressions like that actually occurred outside Disney movies. I considered the relationship of my maternal grandparents, who were married within months of meeting and were still calling each other "baby" until the day he died, to be rare and unattainable. For many reasons, I preferred being single and wanted to stay that way for a good long while, but the instant we met, there was this feeling like . . . "Oh, there you are." I can't explain it any other way. Within eight hours of meeting this person, I couldn't imagine preferring life without him, and I didn't need to ask if he felt the same way. It literally made me feel panicky to imagine all the possible scenarios in which we didn't end up meeting. A year later, it still does. We've had stupid fights, and real fights, and he does a few things that annoy the hell out of me**, but I love him to teeny tiny little pieces and making him laugh gets me positively high, and he gives it all right back tenfold. And he does the dishes. Every. Day. My heart might as well be on Jupiter. I'll never get it back.
So yeah. Valentine's Day. I have no idea what to get him, really. We plan to go to the same chocolate place and then go drink heavily somewhere and ask each other those 36 Questions That Will Make You Fall in Love or whatever for fun, but we never really discussed gifts. Now he's off on some mysterious errand. At first, I suspected he was just running out to get me this perfume he knows I want, but he's been gone for three hours now. He hates receiving gifts, so I'd planned on just getting him some chocolates or baking him something, but I might need to up my game now. Maybe do a cute little painting or something. What do you get someone on a Valentine's Day anniversary?
If you celebrate Valentine's Day, what are you doing? What are you getting your person? What are you getting yourself? What's your favorite Valentine's Day story?
** He will not use an ATM that charges a fee. The man will waste forty minutes of our time to find a Bank of America instead of giving $4 to the generic ATM right in fucking front of us. Drives me absolutely crazy.