I just had a perfect Valentine’s Day. I spent it with my wonderful family. I am lucky to have found love a second time with a kind, funny, smart, sexy man. This kind of bliss was a long time coming though and I had to work hard for it. Still do, every day. After everything settled down tonight I had time reflect back to what I consider to be my first real Valentine’s Day.
Some background: I met my first husband when I was fifteen. He did not have a romantic bone in his body. He had his good qualities, but romance was not one of them. I knew this going in and was okay with it. We married when we were twenty two. Young I know, but by then we had been together seven years. To complicate matters he was in the Navy and he was gone an average of 270 days a year. His deployments were a sporadic month at a time. I never knew at any given moment if he would be home or away and because he was in a spook squadron, I wasn’t allowed know where he was traveling. So the majority of our Valentine’s Days were spent separated but the few times he was home we never did anything special anyway. To clarify, by special I mean showing appreciation for each other with even a small gesture.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1998. I was in the home stretch of a divorce. At thirty seven years old, I was back on the dating scene for the first time in twenty one years. I had just started a new job. Terrified does not even begin to describe my state of mind at that time. For extra money I had taken a free lance job at a refinery in Beaumont for a long weekend of air monitoring the fractional distillation towers so that guys could go in, clean the units without a Class A Hazmat suit (bottled air) and not get sick or worse, die. Anytime a refinery is shut down they are bleeding money so these “turn-arounds” as they are called, are planned out with military precision but it means the days are long, typically 12-18 hour shifts. On this particular job, the turn-around was at a good place i.e. the air quality inside the unit was safe enough to send the cleaning crew in to do their thing so around 8:00 PM our group of five decided to go to dinner. To our dismay, the restaurants were packed.
We finally found a good Japanese restaurant that had some room at a Habatchi table. At some point someone in the group asked why the restaurants were all so busy. Our fellow Habatchi table mates kind of giggled, “It’s Valentine’s Day”. “Ahhhh”, we all said in unison. Not one of us had remembered. All of a sudden it dawned on me, this was the first time I had ever gone out to dinner on Valentine’s Day and here I was doing it as an independent, single woman. I think there was a toast to honor the occasion.
Then at the end of the night I got my fortune cookie:
I don’t know why, but as soon as I read that fortune, I knew everything was going to be all right. When I got back home I taped that fortune to the top of my desk and it is still there to this day. And while the person I was in 1998 imagined better times, she never imagined in her wildest dreams it could be this good.
Sardine picture curtesy of Pixabay.