After meeting on Superbowl Sunday, my husband and I went on our very first date approximately one week later on February 13 (6 years ago). I remember it well. It was a Sunday – I had just enjoyed a luxurious spa day with Alyse – very necessary after an especially long week of travel and conferencing. I had a little too much luxuriating at the spa and by the time I hopped in a cab, I realized I was likely going to be running late for my date. In fact, I was so late that when I pulled up in the cab, I saw my now husband standing outside my apartment complex. I didn’t even have to buzz him in; I got to march him right up the stairs and plant him in a chair while I hurriedly made sense of my outfit for the night.
I apologized a few times for my tardiness and noted his extreme punctuality (and I mean, extreme). We went to a restaurant about a block away from where I lived – Bistro Aix – I had been there once before for a work holiday party. It was cute and the food was decent – not too much but just enough for a first date. We awkwardly exchanged pleasantries about our respective week’s as we walked over – I was talking rapidly and excessively because I was nervous and anxious. He wasn’t talking much at all.
When we got to the restaurant, I noticed how many couples were dining – everyone seemed to be on a date – which seemed a little strange at the time. There were less groups than I would normally expect to see – mostly twosomes – and a lot of hand holding. I felt even more awkward as I quickly started to realize it was Valentine’s Day weekend. It was February 13th. And I was on a first date. Yikes. Awkward. I remember thinking, how did this happen? How did I not realize what day it was?!?!? Duh, because I was single….and who cares about Valentine’s Day?
And worse yet, my date was basically mute. He ordered, sat up stiffly and stared at me from across the table for what seemed like the entirety of our date. He said only a few words while I proceeded to talk a lot. Too much. Too fast.
Needless to say, it wasn’t great. None of it. I felt awkward and slightly confused. Was he even into me? What was going on? What happened to the banter? The email exchanges had indicated a certain rapport — or was I imagining it?
I left the date feeling confused. Awkward. And annoyed.
I checked my inbox and there it was, proof of our great rapport – proof of our endless emailing for the last week while I had been away. It was so good, in fact that I was like a blushing teenager checking my phone and email every five minutes while at the conference, reading into every line, while also Facebook stalking all of his photos – trying to learn everything I could about this guy who I’d met on Superbowl Sunday – the handsome, tall, dark haired, dark eyed guy who tried to impress me with his mastery of five or so words of Italian. La donna mangia….Il bambino corre….
And for the first time in all of my dating life, I decided to straight up just ask him what was up. I texted him and basically said we need to try this again. I didn’t feel the need to play any games. The rules of who should text / call / email first went out the window. I just needed to know. Was it me? Was it us?
I just felt like we had this thing that I couldn’t let go of…not even after a terrible first date.
And I’m so glad I didn’t let go…..
He’s taught me how to truly listen to people. To see them for what they are. To not be so quick to judge and to have patience and empathy. And most of all, how to truly love someone else.
While we can sometimes act like polar opposites – one who deals with nerves by bottling up and getting stiff and shy while the other explodes with word diarrhea and nervous laughter – I realize we’re really similar in so many other ways – in life, we perfectly compliment and lift each other up.
It was on that day – 6 years ago – that I decided to choose love.
So while Valentine’s Day can be viewed as just another excuse for excessive marketing – a holiday when we indulge on chocolate, mushy movies, candlelight dinners, giving and receiving silly cards and candy hearts – for me, it’s a simple reminder to choose love.
It’s a simple reminder to be loved and to give love to friends, family, pets and all beings.
Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!
Stay sweaty friends (and don’t forget to choose love!).