Last Friday was Valentine’s Day. I’m a romance writer, it should be my favorite holiday, but it isn’t. I don’t need a special day to make me think about love. And I don’t need everyone else’s idea of what romance is.
I mean, it doesn’t take much thought to pick up a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day. They set up stands on every street corner in America. And a heart-shaped box of stale chocolates? How original. Not that I have anything against flowers or chocolate. I appreciate my roses from Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of RWA. I earned those roses, not by being a female on the 14th of February, but by selling my first two books. They are meaningful and personal.
My husband made them even more special by buying a vase and three baseballs, since my romance novels are about baseball players. Love and baseball. A perfect combination.
So while other couples were dining on steak and red wine and chocolate dipped strawberries, we celebrated pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training with beer and brats and garlic fries. I don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a good steak and a glass of wine. We call that Sunday night around here. Or Tuesday. Whatever.
Somehow, we’ve managed to keep the romance alive over twenty years of marriage. Not by “being romantic” on certain days. Sure, we celebrate our anniversary. We usually try to catch a Giants game and spend a night in San Francisco. One of the most romantic trips was the year we got a room on Priceline, and bought our tickets online. My oldest son had a Little League game that morning, so my in-laws agreed to meet us at the kids’ ballpark. They took both boys back to their house and we ran home to grab our overnight bags. We were just about to head out the door when the phone rang.
My youngest son was climbing on his grandpa and fell and hit his head against the desk. He would probably need stitches, but we should go ahead and go on our trip. They would take care of him. Yeah, right. We met them at the emergency room, where we sat and waited and waited and waited for our son’s turn. It was a busy Saturday in May, so there were plenty of broken bones, mountain bike accidents and other more pressing emergencies.
We just had to keep looking at the bright side, we weren’t one of those cases where we were immediately taken back. Our son’s injury wasn’t too severe. He did end up with two stitches in the back of his head. We made it to the car just in time to hear the first pitch on the radio. Since we’d already paid for the room, we drove on down to San Francisco.
We were on the Bay Bridge, just able to see the lights of AT&T Park (although, it might have been SBC Park at the time) when the last pitch was thrown. The Giants had won, and we missed it. We did get to see all the high school couples in limos on the bridge with us, heading to their prom, which happened to be in the hotel right next to us.
We made it to our hotel and we didn’t get yelled at for being late, unlike our first anniversary when we went to a bed and breakfast for the first time. But that’s another story. We walked to a sports bar and restaurant and watched highlights of the game over beers and garlic fries. Almost like being there, except the beers were cheaper than at the ballpark.
So it wasn’t a perfect date night, but it did remind us of why we were perfect for each other. We both knew where our priorities were. Our son came first, but our marriage was (and is) important as well. Once we knew he was going to be ok, we turned the focus back on each other.
We might not go on long trips to Paris or Hawaii together, but we usually take a few short trips just the two of us. It definitely helps having grandparents in town or who are willing to come stay with our kids for a night or two. And now that the kids are old enough, we can now go on dinner dates without them. Our kids love it. And I hope they will see that romance is not something that happens once a year. It’s something a couple works on every day, all year long.
Now I want to know what the most unusual, romantic date you’ve ever had?