*Big thank you to Amber Hood, my fabulous friend and world changer, not to mention earth angel, for writing today’s post. Please check out the non-profit organization she works for and writes about in today’s post, Our House.*
There was one Valentine’s Day when a handsome boy I loved in college sat on the air conditioner unit by my bed and played “Earth Angel” for me on the guitar over and over and over again until I drifted to sleep because I wasn’t feeling well. In third grade, a boy who sat a few seats in front of me stole his older sister’s teddy bear and gave it to me during our classroom Valentine’s Day party (I did not give it back). There was another Valentine’s Day when I was living in France, and a lovely British fellow and I rented a car to drive to the countryside to stay in a little cottage surrounded by snowy hills. We drank cups of tea and walked on frozen lakes and ate brioche. There was also a Valentine’s Day when my heart was so totally shattered that I ended up drinking myself silly on tequila in a smoky bar, and a friend drove me and my car home. He put me in bed and said, “You’ll be okay.” He was right. I was.
Tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day all over again, and I will spend my evening at Our House, the homeless shelter where I work, and I will look after a few precious little ones, a few hilarious teenagers, and a handful of kids who are in that awkward and confusing in-between time. We will hang out while their moms and dads search for jobs, study for their GEDs, or write resumes so that hopefully the kids won’t always call a homeless shelter home.
These Valentine’s Days that jumble around in my heart and in my head make me smile because they remind me of my very favorite thing about love: its many tints and tones. Love is the sweetness of that last oh oh ohhh in “Earth Angel.” It’s the boldness of a 7-year-old boy stealing a teddy bear for his sweetheart. It’s as strong and quick as a hand reaching out for me upon realizing that walking on a frozen lake is indeed a terribly, stupidly bad idea. Love can be as loud and obvious as the unrelenting screams of grief and loss, and it can be as quiet and subtle as the valentines my dad would leave for me on my breakfast plate before he left for work every February 14th.
Whether hushed or blaring, faded away or brand new, it’s there in all its glorious and changing shades and hues in life’s biggest and smallest moments, including my very own Valentine’s Day tomorrow when I know that love will be garlic sizzling for the supper I’ll make with my darling friend and co-worker, and it will be the arms of a tiny baby clinging tight around my neck.