Valentine's Day in the first grade was an occasion I remember vividly. We made "mailboxes" out of milk cartons and had doilies and construction paper all about to work with. I remember growing tired of filling them out the night before. We each had a turn passing out our Valentine's in class before the sugar frenzy. I even remember turning them over and reading the names or short message on the back and what those cards looked like all those years ago. I can recall the taste of the punch and smell of the cupcake frosting. On Sister Stephan Jane's desk was a green glass vase that held a single, homegrown, pink rose that a classmate brought from home and a white, milk glass vase filled with a bouquet of lilies. When I passed her wooden desk, I made sure to inhale as much of the flowers as I could. Why I remember this event? I don't know. Other Valentine school parties are spotty at best. I few images here and there. What became of those Valentine's? I did appreciate them very much at the time. For several years the same ones were printed over and over.
In high school I always wished for the office aid to come into class with a note that said I had flowers at the front desk to pick up. It happened every year, classes interrupted all day because a schoolmate's flowers had arrived. By 2pm that was it, the delivery was over, I never got a note those four years. The hallways were a ridiculous parade of girls trying to manage books and balance enormous bouquets of balloons, flowers, teddy bears...their girlfriends [ladies in waiting] all smiles, giggling and delighted [by association] as they walked beside their court princess. I would end the day depressed. It was not fun not being able to participate.
Maybe it was the scent of the flowers on that day. Not yet spring but the sight and smell of the flowers promising good spring notions. I have always found optimism in the spring. I liked Valentine's Day. I saw the scissor and glue potential in it. It was as crafty as Christmas, more than Easter. I loved the flowers most of all.
Then college. The dorm office on Valentine's Day, still that familiar, juvenile, giddiness and excitement. A mixture of sugar highs, alcohol and the freedoms of "adulthood" [such as they were freshman year of college] exploding all about, leaving me emotionally deafened. I continued to be bouquet-less on the chocolate and flower day of love throughout the decades. Even at work, three years ago, a bouquet was delivered to an officemate. Her father sent her a lovely arrangement that filled my cubicle with the fragrance of springtime. I even lingered for several minutes once it was time to go home, just to smell the flowers up close and admire the colors. See, I genuinely love flowers.
Finally, thanks to a dear friend, I re-discovered the scissor and glue aspect and Valentine's Day became fun again. It was an occasion, no, an event. Making Valentine cards remains something I look forward too and get excited about. Though this year I didn't have the concentration I had last year. Instead, this year, I decided to go all out in a different way. Some inner princess in me emerged, scissors, glue, construction paper and doilies on hand.
Over the course of two weeks I put together a banner, while watching August at play, listening to Downton Abbey, Juliette Greco or Scott Walker... things that get me in the mood for Valentine's. I could only do one piece per day, ten free minutes was all I got sometimes. Then today, I scrambled to put everything in place. August followed me around best she could. Dinner was chicken in an Indian peanut curry, we has coconut basil basmati rice and cauliflower sauteed, barely, in red pepper. My disappointment was the cauliflower. But it was in the middle of the afternoon, between the banner and baking the spicy Mexican hot chocolate brownies, that there was a knock on the door. A young girl and an SUV. I mistook her for our new neighbor when she asked my name. It happened...the driver opened his door and delivered to me the biggest bouquet of lilies I have ever seen. He said,"This is the biggest bouquet I have ever delivered."
After several decades of squirming on Valentine's Day, enjoying the scent of flowers around me, I finally received a gorgeous arrangement. I love the scent of lilies. Only my husband, making dreams big and small somehow come true. This isn't the first time. Our little Valentine party started as soon as he got home from work. He arrived with yet another gift, a tawny port wine. There was a special dinner and August was dressed like a little Valentine. It was our first holiday celebration where it was just the three of us, since Halloween. The best Valentine's Day I have ever had, the best celebration I have been too in a long time. The flowers have made the whole house smell like spring. I hope the scent will one day make August feel happy. I know the smell of lilies will always take me back to Valentine's Day 2013.