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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To My Valentine

All this time I’ve been telling people I’m not seeing anyone. That I’d stopped dating. That I felt so content being single. That I never felt lonesome. You keep me so busy with meals, walks, exhibits and endless discoveries. Searching for a partner started to feel unnecessary.

One day it hit me: there’s a reason I’m not lonely. I have you.

I’m not sure what you’d really call our relationship. It’s unconventional, sure, but so are lots of great pairs. Plenty of couples transcend age, geography, cultural barriers. Bogart and Bacall. Beets and goat cheese. Popcorn and M&Ms. Unexpected combinations can be surprisingly delightful.

I remember the days when my friends knew you, before we’d even met. Some of them fell in love with you in their 20s. You weren’t my type, I thought. Too concerned with success and status. I’d never fit in with your gang. You sounded overpriced and stingy: you didn’t even give free refills!

I listened as most of my friends gradually grew disenchanted with you. Too crowded. Too cold. Too cranky.

You were, I decided, the kind of guy who loves an endless buffet of options. You might take me out for a delicious meal, fill me with good wine and great conversation, but you’d never call again. I resolved to settle down with a less fabulous, more practical guy. We made a nice home together. He gave me everything a girl could ask for. A life full of friends. Killer vacations. A kitchen with granite countertops and new stainless appliances. Summer days lounging by the pool and grilling out. But after a few years with him, I felt bored. He was so predictable. I’d ask my friends how you were doing, and I’d fantasize about the possibilities.

When I worked up the courage to call and learned you were still available, I couldn’t believe my luck. Moving in with you was a bold leap, but I went flying. Hearing the news, most friends were encouraging. One thought I’d lost my mind. I didn’t care. I knew what this was. It was a fling, a short-term affair. I’d make sure you gave me what I needed. Meanwhile, you’d barely notice I’d moved in.

Our romance started in the spring, a perfect season for new love. The days were getting longer, and you wooed me during long jogs beside the Hudson River, with the downtown skyline and Statue of Liberty in sight. You seduced me with meatballs and mezze, artisanal cocktails and outdoor markets. Thanks to you, I reconnected with old friends, and I realized how much I missed them, how much we still had in common. I came to love a life that was less planned, more spontaneous. One Friday night we hung out, just the two of us, in Washington Square. We licked gelato, listened to a pianist and danced to the wild beat of African drums.

You were a bit beastly at times during the summer, but we made it work. I’d sweat off my makeup waiting for the subway in the mornings, until I learned to keep a separate stash of cosmetics in my drawer at the office. There were a few summer nights when the power failed, my air conditioner died, and I tossed on my sweaty sheets, wondering whether we’d make it together.

But suddenly, it was September, I turned 35, and you gave me the glorious gift of a birthday in the Hamptons. Surrounded by new and old friends, I realized I didn’t want to let you go. I started plotting ways we could stay together. Maybe this short-term affair would have a longer shelf life.

As I write these words, it’s been an unexpectedly mild winter, and tonight marks our first Valentine’s Day together. We had plans with friends, but those fell through. Now I’m just looking forward to a quiet night at home alone. Maybe some time at the gym. Valentine’s Day seems insignificant when you’re in love every day.

I’m not delusional. I know our time together may be limited. You will always be expensive, hot and cold, cantankerous. The endless variety that now seems so appealing may one day lose its luster. So, in case I can no longer say it then, let me write it down today:

I LOVE YOU, NEW YORK.

3 comments:

Mandy said...

This made me smile. :)

Meredith said...

Best Valentine's Day post, ever!

Elyse {Pretty. Happy. Busy.} said...

Agreed with Meredith! Yes, New York will always be the one that got away.... But knowing someone I care about has them, even if I never will, gives me a great happiness!!!! Thanks for sharing! Plus- have you seen the Movie "the visitor"? It has a great sub plot about playing African drums in Washington Square Park! the main plot, about living in the fear of deportation, is one I know you would love too!