It was significant, though it was nothing fancy.
Actually, she made just about every detail significant, though none of it was fancy.
She let me take her to lunch today, just the two of us (since we went out to dinner as a family on Sunday). She got dressed up just a little bit. Wore the brown blouse that she knows I have always loved her in. Was ready a couple minutes early. She let me drive. Let me hold the door for her as she got in, and also as she got out. Took my arm as we negotiated the parking lot slush. Let me pick from the menu, even though she wasn’t interested in anything other than breadsticks and tea.
Truth be told, she hates Pizza Hut. Has ever since she got the most violently ill after a visit years ago. As has been her custom consistently across the 26 years I’ve known her, she gives you one shot, and that’s pretty much it.
But she has been known to make the occasional annual exception on or around February 14. When she lets me coax her into a victory lap over some breadsticks and tea.
That was the precise fare on Feb. 14, 1991, when we spent our first ever Valentine’s Day together gazing out at some fat snowflakes from a booth at the Waynesburg Pizza Hut.
She’d forgotten about the snow then, she confessed as I recalled the weather report from 26 years ago.
We both fought the urge to take the full measure of this annual pencil-tick-on-the-doorjamb moment.
But I made myself vulnerable before her … with the same ease that convinced me 26 years ago that she was The One and Only. I could always tell her anything.
Confessed to her how embarrassed I was about forgetting how to surprise her. I’ve lost it … from lack of practice. Couldn’t come up with anything for Valentine’s Day for her. Not that we’re big V-Day people. We’re beyond the hype you might say. Still, though … I used to have game. Used to knock her socks off. When I couldn’t afford roses, I once made her a bouquet of roses I drew, told her they were better than the real thing because they would never wither. She kept them for years. Once saved up for a diamond necklace, though the biggest one I could afford was the tiniest one they had.
She wore it to lunch today.
The waiter brought us our breadsticks and iced teas.
We said Grace. Clinked our breadsticks.
The ceremony reminded us of not just who we were, but who we still are, underneath the responsibilities and have-to’s of the 40-something versions of us that are still struggling to Figure It All Out.
When we pulled back in to the garage so I could resume my work day and she could share the leftovers with the kids, she paused before getting out. Leaned over and gave me a kiss.
It was nothing fancy. But it was significant.
She’s still very much capable of surprising me.