Valentine’s Day

For Abbie. Forever. From 2 years ago.

I was in a bit of a hurry, but I wasn’t too rushed. 

I parked my car in the closest spot I could find—which wasn’t very close at all—and got out. A man walked by me with a large bouquet of flowers and three balloons whirling around in the wind. He looked at me, I looked at him, we both nodded, and continued in separate directions.

It was our second Valentine’s Day together. There was much less pressure on me to blow it out of the water, but I still felt that whatever I got her had to be perfect. We couldn’t spend the day together the year before because we lived in different states, so that added to the pressure—but I would’ve taken the pressure from this year over the year before any day.

When I got into the grocery store, I saw about twenty other guys on the same mission as me. Some looked like cagey veterans—doing this for maybe the tenth or twentieth time—some looked like it was their first. The rookies paced the floral department trying to find the perfect bouquet to show the girls they recently started dating that they mean the world to them and this could really be something special while still spending less than twenty-five bucks. The vets were confident, direct—if they were feeling any pressure to knock it out of the park, they didn’t show it.

I walked through the clouds of red, pink, and white and found the right bouquet—not too small, not too large—then went to the produce section. She loves fruit, I thought. They’ve got to have something Valentine’s-y with fruit. Within a minute I found the perfect heart-shaped fruit pizza. I took it to the cashier along with the flowers, and he checked me out.

I stepped into the frigid February air and thought about the night ahead, slightly worried I wasn’t doing enough—or was doing too much. I backed out of the parking spot and headed halfway across town to her house. I switched the station from some news show on NPR to a country station. Some old cowboy whined and twanged about blowing it with the girl of his dreams. Almost a love song—fitting for the day I’m sure, because it probably summed up how quite a few people were feeling on the day everybody celebrated love. And even though I’d made the drive a hundred times, I still felt flurries in my stomach like snow being whipped across the road.

It was our second Valentine’s Day, I thought. I shouldn’t be this nervous. But I was, and the wailing old cowboy wasn’t doing anything to calm my nerves.

I tried to think of what cheesy thing to say to her when I handed over the flowers and fruit pizza. Nothing. 

How do you tell a girl who means more to you than the world that she means more to you than the world without sounding stupid or cliché—or both?

Sure, I could’ve told her just that. I could’ve said, “Darling, you mean the world to me—happy Valentine’s Day,” but I figured about eighty other guys in the city would say the same thing that night. I probably bought flowers with at least two or three who had one of the ladies in the floral section write that exact line on the card for them. 

She was different. She meant more than that. She deserved more than that.

But I couldn’t think of anything. Once again, she’d left me speechless without knowing it, and before I knew it I was making a left turn onto her street. There was no sign of her car in the driveway or on the street, so I took a slow trip around the block and parked on the street across from her house. She turned onto the street and pulled into her driveway. I jumped out, hurried across the street, and ran up the driveway. 

She got out of her car saying, “Oh that was good timing! Wait—” She froze. “Is that fruit pizza?”

I smiled and nodded—still nothing coming to mind—and she let out a long, high-pitched “awww.” She threw her arms around my neck and held on tight. 

Letting go, she said, “Those flowers are gorgeous! And heart-shaped fruit pizza? Well done. I love it all.”

She smiled and I froze. That smile did me in—I still couldn’t think of anything to say to this girl to communicate how I truly felt about her. 

I knew I had to say something. Her smile almost started to fade

And then I said, “I love you so much. I just adore you.”

That pretty smile spread across her pretty face, and she tossed her pretty blonde hair behind a shoulder. 

“Of course you do,” she said, then burst out laughing and wrapped me up again. 

Every fear and worry and doubt I could have possibly had about that night shattered at the sound of that laugh, and then she kissed me.

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