Saturday, February 14, 2015

Memories of a Valentine

For me, this date always reminds me of a Valentine's Day eighteen years ago. I was only 19 years old, a sophomore at Miami University, and a friend I'd known since the year before asked me to go to a Grab A Date at a dance bar that no longer exists in Oxford. He had been interested for a time, but I was slow to submit to my own feelings. I wasn't sure where things would go, but the butterflies in my stomach that night as I got ready were telling my heart there was something special in the making.

We spent the evening in a bar with over fifty people, but I only remember his face as he grinned at my attempts at playing pool (I was pretty good.) I remember those sidelong glances between us, during which I'm sure I tried (and failed) to bat my eyelashes and play coy, but we always ended up in these electric stares that made the surroundings disappear. It was just us in those moments.

Towards the end of the evening, fueled by a drink or two, any remaining guard I had up was released. I remember a remix dance version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" coming on at a deafening level of sound. We met on the dance floor and slow danced, singing to each other, even though we couldn't hear a thing. At the end, there was a walk back to my dorm, and there was finally a kiss.

In the weeks and months to come, we fell in love. We couldn't have fallen harder had we sky-dived towards each other. We soon became pathetic but endearing, schmoopified versions of our former selves. We were together throughout most of our college years, taking breaks here and there. When we graduated, we left behind those two young adults who had fallen so much in love. We traded them for older, more mature versions of ourselves. Things like formals and Grab A Dates were no longer, but the memories made live on in us both.

Love comes in a million different packages, each unique. It is an understatement to say that I have been saturated in love my entire life. The young man I fell for 18 years ago was my true Valentine. Our love was almost effortless. Over the years after graduation, our love changed from romantic to friendship, and then back again. It's all a blur in retrospect.

Ultimately, the friendship won. He has been supportive through my ongoing health issues, and he's been a good listener when I've needed one. We write each other still. Even though it's ancient history, Valentine's Day always make me think of him and brings a smile to my face. Such vividly sweet memories are rare. It's not about wanting to go back or wanting him back. It's a celebration of those two kids that shared that night and who had a love story before life's ups and downs had the chance to mess us up. Granted, we may have been in the Miami bubble, but I thank God for it.

After all, how many couples can slow dance to the remix of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in a bubble? Cheers to the memory and to the young man who won my young heart!
Happy Valentine's Day!