I was looking at my hair in the mirror.
“I think I might need a touch-up,” I noted to my husband, Peter.
“Hmmm,” Peter replied, without looking up. (Which means, “If you think so honey. I honestly believe you might be able to hold off a week!” I can always count on Peter for a thoughtful response).
“Maybe I should get it done in time for Valentine’s Day.” This time Peter did look up, with just a trace of alarm.
“You know, so I’ll be ready for our Big Night Out!” I smiled and Peter relaxed and went back to his reading. I was just kidding and he knew it.
Peter and I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day in the way we traditionally have — by ignoring it completely.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression; Peter is a very romantic person. But he is bothered when someone tells him how and when to be romantic and tries to make money off his romantic impulses and so he opts out of the entire red and pink frenzy: no roses, no dinner reservations, not even any heart-shaped candies.
I am not as hardcore as Peter. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with celebrating love. It’s only when it stops feeling like a celebration and starts feeling like an obligation that the problems start. I am also a little suspicious of big romantic gestures delivered on cue because of my first marriage.
On our 11th anniversary, my former husband wrote in an anniversary card his only wish was to have “another 11 years” with me. I am not big on keeping sentimental items, but for some reason I hung onto that card. It felt like an insurance policy, good for: “another 11 years.” What I did not count on was his leaving me almost exactly 11 years later.
You have to check the expiration date on insurance policies.
I have never felt for a moment that Peter would slip away. I have also learned that romance comes in many shapes and forms.
Peter is not a giver of gifts wrapped up in paper and delivered on any kind of schedule. He does not buy the idea that celebrations need to occur in compliance with a calendar date (except our anniversary, which he always observes). He asks me what I want for my birthday, doesn’t do surprises, and has never, to my recollection, given me a greeting card.
But Peter keeps me supplied in raisins.
If this doesn’t sound significant, that’s because you have no idea how many raisins I go through. I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately and I can’t be bothered getting up and fixing myself a proper meal. So, I’ve been eating “overnight oats” which is just oatmeal you soak in milk instead of cooking. I fill it with raisins, some cinnamon and chopped up apples, and I’m good to go till dinnertime.
I’ve been going through pounds of raisins and Peter notices and makes sure there are always more. He also makes the coffee in our house, which is pretty much a full-time job. He notices when my brand of toothpaste is on sale and buys 10 tubes. (We do not share toothpaste. His is blue!) He replaces things that break, refills things that are empty, and improves things that have bothered me for ages but I never thought to do anything about.
Every day, in dozens of ways, Peter shows me that he loves me and makes my life happier. And he doesn’t do greeting cards.
I’m OK with that.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.