There’s something about existing in nothing but white and brown for months on end that makes people around here head out to search for some color.
Some of them book a flight to Jamaica for sandy beaches, blue water and umbrella drinks, some head for the mountains so they might see the same white at a different height and some just step outside to see if the sunset is up for putting on a show tonight.
I think that’s why they put a holiday like Valentines Day in the middle of February, because we all need a little warming up by now, a little snuggle and a little smell of a rose to remind us that they are blooming somewhere.
Last night I played music for people out on dates at a fancy restaurant in the middle of the badlands. I sat at the front of the room and tried to pull out as many love songs as I could muster, wondering while I was singing Elvis’s “Fools Rush In” why I have a closet full of earth tones and black. I wondered why the only colorful thing I own is the pair red boots I wore with my wedding dress.
And my guitar strap with the little red birds.
I was glad I was wearing both as I finished up…”and I can’t help, falling in love with you…” and watched a couple hold hands and eat little pieces of lobster and steak off one another’s plates in a sea of men and women in their best clothes, dressed up right for a Thursday night.
I wished I had a sparkly pink shirt like the young woman toasting a glass of champagne with her husband or boyfriend at the table in front of me.
The night before I had warned Husband not to worry about Valentines Day this year.
“I won’t be home until well after midnight,” I said. “I’ll see you then.”
And he said “Ok.”
And that was fine. I’m not a fan of chocolate and where Husband works, there’s not a floral shop for miles. My Valentines Day gift to him was to let him off the hook.
His gift to me was his yearly rant about the holiday and why we have to designate a day to remember we love each other when he remembers he loves me everyday.
I know it’s coming, his little rant. And I know it will be followed directly by the “flowers are so predictable” speech. I smile and remember the time he left a rose in my locker on a Valentines Day in 9th grade and I’m happy for the memory.
And happy for all the Valentines Days I’ve been able to share with with a cute and thoughtful boy who turned out to be a man who makes the coffee nice and strong, searches for his clothes in the early hours of the morning with a headlamp so he doesn’t wake me, knows his way around a kitchen, unclogs the clogs, fixes broken things and promises he will be there tonight when I sing again, no matter the hours and miles he has to put in at work today.
And I think that’s pretty nice, those little promises to make life a little nicer for one another.
It’s not always that way. Sometimes you just have to make a comment about the dirty dishes that have been piled up in the sink for days because of the silent protest you’ve made not to touch them just to see how long it will take for him to get fed up and put a few in the dishwasher already.
Sometimes you have to say something about the way his feet smell when he takes off his work boots because you fear the hidden toxins coming off of the green steam is killing the cat.
And sometimes he just has to ask what the hell is going on with your hair, because really, what the hell is going on with your hair.
But when you come in after midnight because you’ve been out singing to pretty people eating cheesecake and toasting to love to find the lights on and that smelly-footed man waiting up for you in the kitchen just to say hello and goodnight, somehow those dirty dishes don’t seem to catch your eye.
And it doesn’t matter that you’re not wearing that sparkly pink shirt you should have in your closet but you don’t.
Because in the glow of the kitchen light in the middle of a February night that was coating the world with snow and promising more white and cold, a stubborn, thoughtful, groggy man reminds you that love is never off the hook.
Especially on Valentines Day.