It is Valentine’s Day. I’m supremely fortunate to have a valentine who makes my heart jump every day.
When I walked down the aisle two years ago to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” I carried a bouquet Russell and I made using origami flowers and white hydrangeas the night before. Our vows were strikingly similar, so much so that my father asked me before the wedding if we’d written them together. Staring at the floral paper remnants of that arrangement each day, I am frequently reminded that we have a unique and special partnership balanced by a free-spirited, whimsical practicality.
Russell leaves tiny love notes for me rolled inside metal caplets under my pillow, in my coat pockets, etc. At the fair, he wastes money trying to win silly stuffed animals for me to carry around. He makes my coffee every morning even though he doesn’t drink it himself. He pulls my boots off when I get home from work, and he makes hot tea. He always lets me watch my terrible DVR’d shows before we watch his brainy stuff. He rubs my shoulders even though his hands hurt. He gets my car inspected and makes sure my oil is changed. During the day, he always texts me, “I love you!” At night, he drags his night owl body to bed early so we can fall asleep next to one another.
But I don’t love him only for all the little things he does for me every day; I love him for the things he does for my mother and my child, too. When there’s a school function, he always makes plans to attend. He poses thoughtful questions to Bella’s teachers and emails them. He checks her grades online. He makes sure she has money in her school lunch account, and he is the first one to reward her for special achievements. When Mom needs a “tall person,” Russell is always there, always putting together her IKEA finds, always answering each honey-do chore without complaint on his way home from work. This man I married, he sincerely cares each moment of each day — not just when February 14th falls on the calendar.
I know it’s gaggy, but I want the world to know: I really love this guy, his big brain, his quirks, his flaws, the way he always has to hold hands in the theater, the way he looks at me like he has from the beginning as if I am the only girl in the room — even in a room full of girls who are five billion times prettier than I could ever be. I love that he keeps his metal records around from the eighties and that he beat-mixes Sesame Street and his DJ scratch vinyl without warning on any old Tuesday night. I love that he is loyal to his friends without limit, yet is honest with them even when what he has to say may not be what they want to hear. I love that he is kind to animals and to people in need; I love how he isn’t afraid to regularly give up his time to volunteer, like it’s his duty. There is no one I admire more than my valentine. He really does mean the world to me.
Infinity plus one. Thanks for being mine, my Totoro.