Valentine's Day, my senior year of college: Will and I had been dating for a month or two. We weren't officially together yet, but it was still new. I usually hated Valentine's Day. Always had. I think it stemmed back to high school when girls would carry their bouquets of flowers and teddy bears from class to class, and all I had was the heart-shaped box of chocolates my parents bought for my sisters and brother and me. I didn't do the whole boyfriend thing in high school. High school boys didn't chase after the smart girls, that's for sure.
So it was my first Valentine's Day with an almost-boyfriend. I had to give him the perfect gift. If he were just some guy I'd only been dating a couples months, I wouldn't have given him anything more than a box of candy hearts. But this wasn't just some guy. This was my Will.
I hate giving someone a gift if it's not the perfect gift. If all I can come up with is a gift card or a picture frame, I usually just go with nothing. In my own weird way, not getting someone a gift is more of a compliment than giving them a half-assed one because it says, "You're too good for just a giftcard." But I can also see how this can be construed as me being a thoughtless bitch.
But if it's the perfect gift, the gift that I know will make their eyes light up and say, "How did you even think to get me this??" then I absolutely love gift giving. I get so excited I usually can't wait until the day of the celebration (holiday, birthday) to give it to them. Remember the Blue Moon Ice cream disaster? That was the perfect gift.
I had the perfect gift for Will. I dug around my room until I found the napkin he stole. I stretched it around a textbook and pulled it tight by tucking the edges into the flaps. Then I pulled out my trusty Sharpie, and wrote:
Three and a half years ago
I never would have guessed
that we would be together.
That I would try my best.
To be the girl You fell for.
A year and a half ago.
When you put your heart out on the line.
And I just let it go.
I finally came to my senses.
I’m sorry it took so long.
For a person who's used to always being right.
It was hard to admit I was wrong.
I used to hide my ring from you.
I'd turn it inside out.
But now I wear it everyday.
Because I know what its about:
Friendship, intrigue, passion, devotion,
commitment, hope and love,
potential, desire, excitement, emotion
and your family up above.
I hope I meet their standards.
I hope I’m good enough
For her son who's always caring.
For his brother who's always tough.
It's only been a few weeks, it's all still new,
but there's something I have to say.
I couldn't be happier than I am with you,
and Happy Valentine's Day.
Others might have seen it as a cheesy poem on a napkin. What kind of gift was that? But to Will and me, it was an expression of my feelings and an apology for any hurt I'd caused in the past, all written on a memento from our first date.
I don't remember what Will gave me that Valentine's Day, but not because it wasn't a good gift. The gift I remember is the look on his face when he saw that I'd kept the napkin, and the emotion on his face as he read the poem. That was all I needed. (But I'm pretty sure he also gave me the flowers and teddy bear I'd always wanted. Sadly, my dog decapitated the bear.)
Will loved the poem so much he framed it and hung it on his wall, right next to the pictures of his family and the plaque memorializing his mom and brother's death.
I hoped Will would ask me to be his girlfriend that night. As soon as he asked me out, I'd planned on cashing in my V Card.
I woke up the next morning still a virgin.