We have big plans tonight for Valentine’s Day.
We’re going to Dairy Queen.
Mostly because I love a hunger buster.
Mostly because Valentine’s Day kind of snuck up on us and we didn’t really make reservations anywhere and looked at each other yesterday and shrugged our shoulders and decided to go to a place that didn’t take reservations and where yoga pants are considered high fashion.
Mostly because I would follow those twinkling brown eyes to the fast food counter and back.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day and love that lasts through french fries and blizzards and holding hands over a brown laminate table with neon blinking lights in the background, I wanted to share a love story with you again. It’s one of my favorites. Mostly because it’s not about the giant gestures or the cards or the flowers or the box of chocolates.
It’s about the kind of love that shows up and turns something ordinary…
…into a love story.
I never met a happily-ever-after I didn’t like.
I can’t help it.
I’m all about a movie where everyone walks off into the sunset together.
You know—like the one about a girl who owns a coffee shop that she’s poured her heart into where everyone in the town drinks coffee and has an epiphany. But tragedy strikes and she’s about to lose the shop because the economy has taken a turn for the worse and she tries to hide her sadness behind a super sad smile. It looks like all is lost. It looks like there’s no more coffee shop. It looks like cappuccinos and frappuccinos and whipped cream are a thing of the past. Then suddenly a New York playwright shows up in town on a white horse, looking for inspiration and soul-saving and he drinks her coffee and writes a play and falls in love with her and saves her shop.
Or where the girl meets the guy and he’s a famous cooking personality and has his own show and she doesn’t really know how to cook and she finds him overbearing and obnoxious and thinks he knows everything about cooking (which he does because he’s a famous chef) and she wants nothing to do with him even though she has to promote him because it’s part of her job. And along the way, she notices that he has amazing hair and discovers that underneath all that bravado is an incredible man who’s just lost his way a little.
Just a little.
And she falls in love with him.
And he falls in love right back.
Cue the fireworks.
That’s how I pictured love.
That’s how I thought it should be. You know….red roses that show up unexpectedly and poems and songs composed in your honor and sparkling stars in the sky and trails of petals everywhere….
Fireworks every day.
Just like in the movies.
And so I got married to an incredible man and waited for all the romance to show up.
And occasionally it did.
Over the years there have been some flowers and singing and once I heard a version of roses are red when I made him potato salad and sometimes across a crowded room those twinkling brown eyes make my heart beat faster and I see sparkles.
But along the way, you know what I’ve discovered?
You know what they never really talk about in the Hallmark movies?
It’s that sometimes the happily-ever-after isn’t in the grand gestures and proclaiming your love across the Grand Canyon or on the big screen at the football game….
….sometimes love is in the everyday.
In the smallest of gestures.
In the littlest of moments.
Sometimes when you least expect it a little piece of happily-ever-after shows up.
Like last week.
I was traveling home on my 1700th trip this summer and I was tired and weary and worn and trying valiantly not to cry as I looked up and saw a mile marker that told me there were still 27 miles to the Kentucky border.
I just wanted to be home.
I just wanted to see my family.
I just wanted to sit for a minute and breathe and put my feet up and drink sweet tea and have someone tell me stories about their new backpack using words like “savage” and “on fleek.”
Suddenly my phone rang and my husband’s voice came over the car.
“I was just checking on you,” he said. “How close are you?”
At the sound of his voice, I started crying.
I told him I was worn out.
I told him I just wanted to be there instead of here.
I told him I didn’t want to smile one more smile or start one more conversation or talk one more word. He listened to me quietly as my frustration and sadness and worn-outness poured out of me. He listened to my complaints. He listened to my tears.
And then when I was finished?
He didn’t say a word.
Instead, he sang to me. He sang songs about my name and old country songs and new praise songs and songs about country roads and songs that made me laugh and giggle and nod and sing along.
Every. Single. Mile.
He and his guitar sang me home.
And I promise you….
….I heard fireworks.
PS See you at Dairy Queen.
Happy Valentine’s Day.