Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day Gupta-Anderson-Style

No, I'm not hyphenating my name... it has legally been Olaina Careen Anderson since we got married almost five years ago. But we are not average Anderson's, so I'm considering adding it for certain occasions--for flair.

Ages ago (well, a while ago at least--longer in dog years) Justin and I decided we would not celebrate Valentine's Day in any special way. As Eric Dahlgren put it, "It's amateur night out there." Last year, he and Amanda got Chinese take-out and ate at home. They were happy.

Why pay extra to eat a pre-chosen menu at a restaurant where we already have favorite dishes? Why dress up when we prefer jeans? Why flaunt our love when the only people it really matters to are us? Why go out if we'd rather stay in? It's trophy-mate night--"look everyone! I caught one!" It's insecure-rich-hitched people night--"What did you do for Valentine's Day?" which is really only a relatively polite lead into "We [insert synonym for spent way too much money and are now showing off about it even though it didn't compensate for our actual misery]." OK. That last part about misery might actually just be a tad of bitterness about their wealth and our lack thereof.

But we had a rich Valentine's Day, despite promising no presents.

For at least a week, Justin has been dancing in his eyes, telling me, "You're going to love your Valentine's Day present. I only spent about $25. You don't have to get me anything. But I got you something. You're going to love it. I can't wait to give it to you. I saw it and I just had to get it for you."

To which my response has been (silently) "Oh God! I didn't buy anything for him! I have no idea what to give him! I already gave him his favorite painting. I can't think of anything he wants for $25. I don't want to get something for me that's really for him, or is that reversed?"

I finally decided I'd clean the house. It's something he really wants and something I'm having the slightest trouble doing.

So I started working on it.

And then I realized that between the intermittent days of depression, the car accident and further depression, and the solution to depression usually involving leaving the house that it just wasn't going to happen. So I told him, "I'm going to try to have your Valentine's Day present ready for you by the time you get home today, but if I don't, I'm going to be Gentle With Myself." The cognitive behavioral therapy people would be happy. Gentle with myself.

He looked at me gently and said, "OK," and I could tell he really meant it.

Oooo. But I forgot to say that because we have declared a moratorium on Valentine's Day presents, I got to open my gift from him on Monday. To celebrate Monday. He got me the new Norah Jone's CD (which I love and had just heard an interview about on 60 Minutes the night before, and was going to buy) and a book reviewed by Anne Lamott and already so amazing that I'm covering the pages so I don't skip ahead, and even though I'm only on chapter 4, the book is all marked up because I LOVE the writing style of Elizabeth Gilbert. It's called, Eat, Pray, Love. And really what else does a person need?

My Justin knows me. My Justin loves me.

My Justin has lectures on Wednesday nights from 5-7 p.m.

My Justin called at 3:45 p.m. and said, "I have one more present for you."
"Oh no, what?"
"I'm coming home!"
"Really?!?"
"They cancelled lecture, and my resident said, 'Get out of here. It's Valentine's Day!' and they know I'm married, so I'm coming home."

So he came home, and we got to see each other in day light during the week! This is a truly phenomenal experience. We hugged and cuddled and went to Lei Lounge for Happy Hour appetizers and drinks and Bourbon Street to say hello to my favorite bartender and came home and ate dinner I made (two days ago in a crock pot, which we had yet to eat together), and I made brownies in a round cake dish and cut them into the shape of a heart when they cooled, and it was the best Valentine's Day ever. No pressure. No expectations. Wonderful surprises and togetherness.

Is there really any more to it? We got to spend bonus time loving each other and talking to each other. I got to hear about his medical school experience--people have been dying and are dying, and he's a participant in the news-breaking now (so sad!), but he's also getting to do procedures I ask him not to describe in gory detail. And I got to tell him about my progress in painting, and how Reed Cardwell, my teacher/mentor is now talking to me about this huge piece I'm working on (it's four by three feet) of a couple that is entwined yet pushing apart from each other. He's talking to me about the progress of the piece, choosing colors and what emotion I want to convey and so what the colors say, and how that's more than just talking about the proportions of the bodies, which I'm also trying to figure out. Justin and I also talked about the quality of paint (there is such a difference between brands!) and how I need to buy some more good paint in certain colors. Is there really any more to it? We got to reconnect. And even though we're married and live together, we can sometimes go for days without having a conversation about anything but logistics of life.

I met this really great guy last night, and I think he likes me. It was a perfect Valentine's Day.

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