Officially, we had only been dating about six weeks. So, I didn’t expect anything big in the way of Valentine’s Day celebrations. Not to mention, since I was living and working in Southern California and he was living and working in Seattle, distance was a factor.
A mutual friend of mine and Jon’s had invited me to spend the weekend with her family in Santa Maria, CA, near Pismo Beach (LOVE this place). I thought this was a good idea, especially since my beau would not be around Valentine’s Day weekend.
Or would he?
That morning was like any other morning, I got up and got ready to head to the office. For some reason, I decided to dress up that day, even though Fridays were always casual where I worked. I remember walking through the door only to hear, “Well, well! Aren’t we looking fancy-schmancy today! Why are you all dressed up?”
I responded, “Oh, I don’t know.”
My satchel was heavy, so I wanted to drop it off at my desk before heading to the Break Room for coffee. As I rounded the corner, I noticed everyone was on their phones. In a split second, I remember thinking, “Has the receptionist even turned the phones on yet? Maybe they are checking voicemail. But why are they all talking?” (Later, I found out they were all talking to one another. It was part of “The Plan”.)
Then, for a moment, time stood still.
Ten feet away from where I was, I saw my cubicle. My desk. My chair. Slowly the chair swiveled around to face me. And to my utter disbelief and shock, there he was.
It was him, only different. He’d shaved off his beard. Now, he looked much younger. Yet, it was still him.
In the flesh.
In my office.
Sitting at my desk.
Apparently, I didn’t welcome him with open arms. Actually, I remember screeching and walking rather quickly (he says running) to the Break Room. Then, turning back to see if I had dreamt it all. I nearly walked right into him on the way back to my desk. He grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug ever. And I just melted into his arms. Still wondering if this was real, or not.
Was he really here? Was I really looking at him?
You see, I had just spoken to him the night before, and he said he had to work over the weekend. He even told me to be expecting a delivery at home, not work, and that he hoped I liked it. Yet, in reality, he was in Southern California spending the evening with a friend. He had been planning this for several weeks.
One minute it was on, the next it wasn’t. His boss gave him the time off, then said he couldn’t have it. Finally, he went to her and said, “This is the woman I am going to marry, so even if I don’t have a job when I come back, I’m going to go see her.” Guess what? His boss said, “Well, if you will put your job on the line for a woman, she must be pretty special. We’ll see you when you get back.”
HOLY COW! Who does that? He did. (I know, I can’t believe it either!)
After I regained my composure and pinched him a time or two to make sure that he was indeed real, I sat down at my desk. I asked him a million and one questions in about one minute. Poor guy. He answered as best he could. By this time, the office was filling up and everyone was coming around grinning from ear to ear. You see, just about everyone that I worked with was in on this little surprise. Everyone that is, but me!
After morning prayer (I worked for a non-profit music ministry), the day began in a flurry. I had a lot to do. Many calls to make. Auditions tapes and packets to listen to and go over. And 5 o’clock wouldn’t get here fast enough.
I asked him what he was going to do for the day. He said, “Well, first, I am going to get your keys and take your car to have serviced. Then, I’ll come back and we can have lunch together.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
He took my car for an oil change, tire rotation and full-scale detail. Then, arrived with a coffee in hand and waited until it was time for me to go to lunch.
Really? I mean, REALLY!? Who does that?
After work, we made a quick trip to my house, where I packed a bag. We drove up the 101 to Santa Maria, where we spent the weekend with my friend’s family. We ate clam chowder out of bread bowls and walked along Pismo Beach. Enjoyed a great meal at a dinner theater. And attended church with my friend and her fiance’ before driving back down the 101 to Ventura.
At the close of the weekend, it was hard to say goodbye. Yet, I knew this one was a keeper. My heart was safe with him. And I never looked back or let go. And neither did he.
And here we are 15 years later. Still celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Over the years, we have begun new traditions, such as Family Valentine’s Celebration. This year, we are taking the kids to a guest house for pastors and their families at Miracle Ranch. We were told there are many activities planned, including horseback riding. Mostly, though, we’re just looking forward to spending time with the ones that we love. We just like being together. All of us. Hanging out. Doing something or nothing at all.
But I still think about our very first Valentine’s Day. Such sweet memories. Most specifically, it was the day a boy professed his love to a girl. A girl, who up until that moment, was keeping him at arm’s length. To her, Valentine’s 1997 is when her heart became his forever. She realized this man would do whatever it took to provide for her, care for her, and protect her.
She discovered that he, most definitely, was (and still is) the ONE.