This heart is a tad dusty and a little out of focus, which happens to love on the best of days.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day which is a funny, mixed-bag holiday for me since it's the day I got married to my first husband. I was a baby, twenty-two, pregnant with my first baby, Jesse, and honestly don't know what I was thinking. It's not like I had to get married. But I did. We did.
Having Jesse was a no-brainer; she was destined to be an amazing teacher for me, all kids are. But it didn't take me long to realize that marrying her Dad probably wasn't the best idea I'd ever had. I won't go into particulars, at least not today, but suffice to say the whole damn thing got very messy until me and my girl ended up living solo in a skinny railroad flat on Teeter Street where we'd soak in the tub together and make up stories about our smelly, kind neighbors.
We did okay.
So, yesterday I was flipping through a big, black binder called "The Book", and lo and behold, I opened to the page of sketches (un-revised!) I'd written about different Valentine's Days over the years. It was a warm pocket in the day, reading it out loud to Michael when he came home for lunch. In what's felt like a dusty and out of focus time in our marriage, it was a gift remembering
the beginning of us.
Valentine's Day 1997
Santa Monica, California
I am greeted by Michael, my new love, at the LAX airport with a dozen roses. He is wearing a denim shirt, his hair is still long, still on his head. No beard. He has an innocent face, big, blue eyes, fair skin. His apartment is filled with red balloons; hearts, lips, I LOVE YOU balloons. He has an ice cream cake that says I dig you, baby!
I am swept away. Take me from my life in Pennsylvania, I think. Except for Jess, don't take me from her. But right now I'm in sunny California where people are long-legged and blonde and everyone is rollerblading with ease in short shorts and small tops. I am short, dark-haired, small-breasted, with a slightly crooked front tooth. I worry that I shouldn't have left Jesse alone with an 18 year old as her "babysitter". Not good parenting. I am across the country, drinking wine. I never drink wine. I am on the beach and driving up the coast to Neptune's Net, to Malibu, where Barbra Streisand lives. We eat shrimp over newspaper and drink cold beer. I am swept away by the ocean, sunset, this courtship. A plane draws a white heart in the sky over the Santa Monica pier. I think it must be just for me, for us. The ferris wheel spins at the boardwalk. Palm trees sway. We walk the streets and go into shops filled with beautiful things. I want beautiful things. I want straight teeth. I want a new life. Someone takes our picture outside the camera shop. Michael is wearing a straw hat. I am wearing the amethyst necklace he had made for me. He has his arm around my shoulder and we're both smiling at the camera/