Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Three Most Memorable St. Valentine's Days

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M and I our "first time dating" freshman year.
1. February 14, 2005—A serious discussion with a pre-theologate (not really a seminarian, I promise... he was just in the “discernment program”)

Freshman year at Franciscan University of Steubenville was a rough year emotionally. I happened to have a massive crush on a guy in the pre-theologate program, and the thing is, he was acting as if he had a crush on me. You know, hanging out together all the time (we were in the same group of friends), singling each other out for discussion, walking a friend back to her dorm across campus together so we could walk back to our adjacent dorms alone, on movie nights sitting right next to each other on the same couch, and there may have been some flirting.

Well it all came to ahead right around St. Valentine’s day (or Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day for those of you who prefer the new calendar). I was confused: was this guy really discerning the priesthood or did he like me? He was less confused about my affection and more confused about his discernment. I confided in a few good friends, including a wonderful couple who let me interrupt their date night in a common room to get advice. They advised me to talk to him and tell him that he was confusing me.

I called him up, and asked to go for a walk because “we needed to talk.” My plan was to tell him that I was attracted to him and to ask him to give me some space, so that I could get over him and he could go on discerning the priesthood. We met up on a rainy courtyard clad in rain jackets (what a mild February that must have been!). I dove right into my problem. “I am attracted to you,” I confessed to him. “Um, well, I am attracted to you,” he replied, and then we paused. What were we supposed to do? Well, I decided to tell him the entirety of my past crushes and involvements with boys; I am not really sure why. I think I wanted to let him know that I really needed him to be straight forward with me. By the end of our discussion we decided that we needed to put serious limits on our interaction since we had become way to close to be “just friends.”

That worked for one emotionally painful week, and then I guess he had had enough. He met with his formation director, told all, and then left the program. He was free to date. The next day he asked me out. There is a lot more that happened after that, but eventually we got married, well three years later, which seems like a long time when you are only 18. I will tell the rest of the relationship history another time.

8 months pregnant with our first. I was showing more than he was.
2. February 14, 2009—Star Trek marathon.

I was 8 months pregnant with our first, and we were 8 months into our marriage. We decided that St. Valentine’s day was the last night of our youth since we were going to be taking care of our baby in a month. We went out to dinner (I can’t remember where), and then went to the best grocery store on the face of the earth, Wegmans, bought some snacks or something, and took turns riding the cart in the parking lot. Yep, I rode a cart at 8 months pregnant; I was empowered by Bradley birthing classes. Then we went over to Blockbuster and rented three of the original Star Trek movies. We then proceeded to watch them one after another, eating food, and wondering if the baby was a boy because the baby sure liked all the sound effects. (She was a girl, or course.)

I think this was my favorite St. Valentine’s day. We spent the first year or so of G’s life watching Star Trek Voyager, and then went through all the other Star Trek shows. We are pretty nerdly.


My Valentines dates in 2012.
3. February 14, 2012—Me and my daiquri.

The winter of 2012 was one of the most stressful of our relationship. M was “on the job market,” and we were in a continual state of anxiety waiting for calls or emails about job interviews. February is the normal month for on campus interviews, and boy M had a lot of them (for which we were very blessed). It seemed like every couple of days he was called out to another interview. I think he was gone for two full weeks of that month.

Well on St. Valentine’s Day, while M was at an awkward job interview dinner with two potential colleagues (not for the position he ultimately accepted) at a restaurant full of couples out on dates, I was hundreds of miles away, at home, having a romantic dinner of what was probably scrambled eggs with a not yet three year old and a one year old. After I put them to bed, I read one of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels and drank a daiquiri (I got pretty good at making daiquiris that month).

After M got back to his hotel and called me up to recap the dinner, he informed me that he had been offered two more interviews. I just about cried, as I was at my wits end with the single parenting stuff, and I am pretty sure my mom friends were tired of me spending half the days at their houses. I made emergency calls to my parents and in-laws begging someone to come stay with me for the last interview. My wonderful mother-in-law took pity on me, and I rewarded her with our traditional Mardi Gras dinner of strawberry filled crepes, ice cream, and bacon.

Much to our relief, M received a job offer on February 17, when he was back home, so even though he was going to be gone for a few more interviews, we had the relief of knowing he would have a job.
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And that is it. The rest of the St. Valentine’s days of our relationship probably involve either dinner at some restaurant or staying home with the kids. I can’t really recall.

As for the patron saint of lovers himself, I looked him up in our awesome hardcover Septuagesima volume of Dom Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year, and it turns out that whatever legends we have of him are not part of the liturgical tradition. We know that he was a priest “who suffered martyrdom towards the middle of the third century,” and that “the ravages of time have deprived us of the details of his life and sufferings.” However, we should look to his martyrdom as a model who encourages “us to spare no sacrifice which can restore us to, or increase within us, the grace of God.”

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