I’m so excited, I have something to contribute for Flashback Friday! This week’s topic is Valentine’s Day, be it happy or sad, sappy or whatever. I have a good one.
Our first V-Day as a married couple. Hooboy. We were living in Iowa (wait, first, let us remember that I grew up in Chicago and there are a lot of people there and Iowa, not so much), in a town that we, uh, lovingly referred to as “the armpit of the world.” I was teaching in western Illinois, in a town that had fewer people than my entire high school. Are we getting the picture here? Big city girl in teeny tiny community. I taught middle school band. The band room had NO windows. I left home when it was dark, came home when it was dark, and did not see the sun all day long. I had a miserable case of SAD (oh hell, I’ve always had SAD, it was just really really bad that year) as a result. And then, in February, I got mono. If there’s a disease you don’t want when you’re married, for your first Valentine’s Day, it’s mono. Ok, no, there are worse diseases, but hey, it was nasty. I was really sick. The mono morphed into gastritis as well. I was one sick little puppy. I missed a lot of work, which really didn’t bother me, I hated teaching anyway and that was probably why I was so sick. I missed most of February, but not all of that was me being sick. The town where I was teaching flooded. In February. Happens when towns are near rivers that develop ice floes and flood the town. Two weeks of school essentially cancelled. But I digress. I was home sick. Tom had a jazz band contest (he was teaching band then too) and had to leave me. We were supposed to go out to dinner at the only nice restaurant in town (hell, it was the only restaurant in town; they got an Applebee’s or something right before we left). All that shot to hell ’cause I could barely shower. So my new husband, my sweetie, took care of me. He still had to go to the contest, but he made plans. He hired some of the choir students (they were doing this as a fundraiser) to do a singing telegram to the house (oh, I coulda killed him, I was a mess, but it was wonderful!). He called up the restaurant, explained the situation, and brought home the delicious multi-course meal we would have had out. Hey, I was sick, but I could still eat! Oh, and it was gooood. And there may have been flowers. What could have been a truly miserable day ended up being my favorite so far, and it’ll be 10 years this summer.
Now, why does this stay with me so? We were newly married, in a place we hated, far from friends and family, truly alone but for each other. We were all we had, nothing and no one else. Even though we’d been together for years, we were still getting to know one another as husband and wife. And that day, he showed me how he loves me, truly through sickness and health. It would be easy to say, “oh, newlyweds, that’s what they do,” but that’s not the point. He went above and beyond. He could have easily just done flowers, not had the singing telegram, not brought home the delicious dinner, and been proud of himself. But he did the extra, and made me feel like a million dollars, at a time when I was lower than low. And that is why I will always remember that Valentine’s Day. We’ve had better ones since, I know we have (hey, last year we went out and bought furniture-woohoo- and this year we’re looking for builders to finish our basement…do we know how to party or what? LOL), but none that stick in my mind like that first year.
The rest of that year of living in Iowa? Totally blocked it out. Seriously. I really do not remember much. I have actively flushed that year from my mind. Kinda frightening that I’m able to do that.