Yesterday, we fought, morning of our big date. It was carry-over from a silly argument the night before. The kind that made us go to bed without making up, without “sorries” or any goodnight kiss and it was there in the morning hiding behind some sort of old, nagging curtains. The kind that need to be ripped- down anyway, to let in more light.
The retched, unresolved thing was still there, though tempered by rest and my husband taking kiddos upstairs to eat while I slept a full hour more. I walked upstairs to coffee and an “I love you”. And something still persisted, resisted, and got bigger and nastier, threatening disaster. And all we could do was set the record straight, remembering our great big solid awesome love which made me sniffle. And then we finally kicked it out, finally ripped down those seventies window treatments and flung ’em out the door.
And then? We let our kids know the big date was ON; we both wanted to look great for the other, asked our girl for tips and suggestions–what to wear and where to eat (a dress, she said for me–something special, and suit and necktie for Daddy, handsome and with cologne, even).
It was powerful for a family, gladdening to our marriage, big daughter helping. It wasn’t stifling, those kids in our room while we prepared, even when she poked my scalp with an uninvited headband. She helped her Daddy choose a shirt that wasn’t boring and even wove the pearl cufflinks through his sleeves’ button holes. The twisty bit was tricky–they did that together.
Also wonderful, her seeing my nailed painted Tahitian pink, shimmering eyelids and earrings she selected–blue gray river pearl, smoothed by years of currents, the movement of wearing-away which makes a stone, makes minerals into gems, micro-organisms into resplendent objects, even better.
I saw me, daughter of divorce, daughter of being a bit afraid of fights and what if they don’t get worked out and not everyone comes through, hands held together. I need to see change. Stagnance, tension makes me worry. Need the closure snapping, locking to hold tight the beads. Need the bear hugs and tender kisses, the promises renewed, the husband not going anywhere except closer.
It was, for all of us, dramatic–kids taking part in the process of love and forgiveness, since they had already heard the fighting, sensed the sarcasm. She had already stumbled into judging which of us was right, and who was mean. I know…
Getting dolled-up had to be public, a sending-off for something special.
That’s not even touching on the actual time out and the mystical city night of shooting upwards to a destination the height of stars, los mariachis framing love. It was all there. The margaritas held their salt on rims and you and I seemed to renew vows under the painting of green, swirling, serenading hills, Las Colinas.
Out of all of the Valentine’s Days, with your incredible-know-me-so-well-gifts, it was this one. Even when you surprised me with buying our Delray Beach home, out of jewelry, all of the languages of love, it was this one that got caught in my throat. On this one date, in this conversation, I most admire you. It is all a gorgeous, lush song, this life of ours, the life we’ve made–and then the getting home, fierce wind gusting, flapping windows and scarves to get in and make us cold. Holding hands, though, fingers in gloves, we took off our shoes and looked in love, came in to our children and pulling the covers up on their little necks. You examine and love a life that gets tucked-in, sit stronger knowing your marriage is a gate, the gate, that will receive attention. You sleep in the comfort of growing up into such steady promises of faith.
And in the morning, you share with your daughter, the menu and magic of their house flan, the berries and cream that dotted the plate, drink with an umbrella, the wonder that is rich, salty mole sauce, smothered over the most tender chicken. You convey solidity, affection for her father. You want to live a life examined, video-tape your speak, to really learn how it is you talk, how the bitter teenage tendencies can ripple through your four-year-old daughter, ripple through lips and make shoulders shrug tight.
There is wisdom in looking-in at love’s place. You wouldn’t keep prize-koi fish in the kitchen sink, wouldn’t place your newborn baby on a rock or swing; so, too, these loves, these prizes I’ve helped grow and win. I’m learning, this Valentine’s Day, to keep track of the heart and let it sing.