This year, I planned to lay-low on Valentine's Day. It remains my favorite holiday (of 34 years and counting!), but this year, life caught up with me and nixed any plans of a big celebration. I'm overwhelmed with a million little details, also known as death by a thousand papercuts: loads of work, loads of kid stuff, loads of life-moving-on matters. It's not a complaint; I'm just my least favorite word ever: busy.
Of course, that's when life shows up to show me that "busy" isn't what matters.
What matters is my mom visiting town and spending quality time with grandkids that has enabled me to plow through work at unprecedented efficiency while also having time for a quality social life that is too-often on the back burner. What matters is my brother and his wife bringing mom from her weekend at their new place for a hand-off in church, and our sitting through church as a family before dining together afterward -- and knowing that I get to see my brother and sister-in-law again sooner than usual since they live nearby now. What matters is my son climbing on my lap today at lunchtime even though he barely fits anymore -- and how he rested his head on my shoulder for just long enough for me to soak it up. What matters is my don't-touch-me-teen giving me a hug every night before bed in much the same manner, unsolicited and on her own time but never missing. What matters is bumping into a girlfriend randomly yesterday and taking ten minutes on a park bench to sit with her and catch up -- long enough time to share some important feelings with her and for her to hug me because I'm in such a good place inside myself right now, and she sensed that. (It's been so long in coming.) What matters is connecting with old friends over Facebook and cheering each other on as we celebrate singlehood and all of its mixed blessings, including highly bizarre dating stories that I imagine we'd have been giggling about in our college dorm rooms over late-night spiked-coffee in much the same manner. What matters is feeling just as good -- no, better -- at 40 as I did at 20, because I know who I am, and I know what I want from life, and darned if I don't actually like myself as-is, at long last. What matters is sharing my as-is self with someone who actually not only accepts me but also celebrates me that way. What matters is suspending cynicism and fear and diving into that good feeling head-first without a life vest. What matters is knowing that there are hoards of people who will toss me a line if I come to need one. What matters is being pretty sure that I won't need one this time around.
What matters is sitting here right this moment, taking a deep breath, and realizing that I am where I am supposed to be. I am who I want to be. I am surrounded by people about whom I care and who care about me. I am loved. And my heart is beating again. I thought that, perhaps, I had walled it off successfully. I have never been so happy to be wrong.
Happy Valentine's Day to you, dear readers. May you find love at unexpected times and in unexpected places and among the smallest details, not only on this day, but every day. xo