Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
For many people it’s an emotionally charged holiday with hopes and disappointments, tension, and expectations that may be impossible to fulfill. I’ve experienced my share of all of the above. And one Valentine’s day weekend I was surprised by a marriage proposal. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t.
We drove to a B&B in Calistoga, possibly the most charming, relaxing, and romantic towns in California. As soon as we got there, he asked. We were sitting on the bench on the charming wooden boardwalk because our cottage wasn’t quite ready and I tried to explain why I wasn’t either.
Which is how I found myself standing in the middle of Calistoga’s busy main street watching my ride disappear. It was a Lincoln, a white one, not very efficient, but long, luxurious, and so comfortable. We’d spent so many good times in that car. That drive to Tomalas Bay in the pouring rain. That sexy night when we parked, like teenagers, in a quiet neighborhood before a show at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
I watched the car as it sped off, braked, backed up, ejected my suitcase from the window into the middle of the street, and fishtailed out of town.
Thankfully, high-quality luggage is something I value and invest in. Otherwise, I may have suffered the humiliation of chasing my unmentionables as they scattered in the breeze along the main street of Calistoga.
Instead, we stood—my high-quality suitcase and I—in the middle of the street sort of stunned, thinking this was more like a scene from a movie than real life. After a time, I don’t know how long, I realized that traffic had stopped and everyone on the sidewalk was frozen in place, probably thinking the same thing.
Maybe they were looking for the movie cameras. Or perhaps, being residents of Calistoga and tourists on a romantic holiday themselves, they were sympathetically allowing me to collect my composure.
Whatever their thought processes I am grateful that, to a one, they remained politely silent as I extended the handle of my quality luggage and rolled it over the curb into the B&B to face the desk clerk, alone.
Her equanimity was admirable. She booked me in, but into a different cottage because, she said, “you wouldn’t believe the shitstorms I’ve seen here when a heart is broken.”
I broke his heart.
It was hard to take. And I was sorry. Sorry for him. Sorry for me. Sorry for the end. We’d had so much fun together. Couldn’t he be happy as it was? We were both older. He had a grown kid, in college. Me, I had my nieces and nephews.
I soaked in the hot tub for two, drinking the Veuve Clicquot for two (dammit, he really had such good taste), snacking on the antipasti and chocolate and mandarins for two, anxious and drunk and and finally sleeping, fitfully, in the softest and cloudiest of all the B&B beds for two I’d experienced before or since.
This year, no romance. But still, I looked up Valentines day on Wikipedia hoping to confirm its commercialism, hoping to make it thus dismissible, truth be told. But I was surprised that the holiday actually owns its oomph as a Christian holiday with legends of myths and miracles.
And what better than martyrs and miracles to spawn holidays, provide inspiration, and a reason to celebrate? Here’s a Valentine’s Day card from 1909, the year before the company that became Hallmark, which was founded by Joyce Clyde Hall and his older brothers, William and Rollie Hall, to capitalize on the postcard craze.
Valentine’s Day comes with a lot of baggage for many people, of which I am one. I try to dismiss it, not to hope too much, and keep busy.
So… dare I ask, how did your Valentine’s Day go?