I remember the first time I spoke directly to him. At Sunday school (how quaint). I was there when he came in, wearing his red Stanford sweatshirt. We'd already maneuvered through the very early stages of flirtation... minor eye contact, indirect teasing. But he was so handsome, I just couldn't help myself.
"Cute sweatshirt," I said.
He stopped. Was the crazy, loud girl with the big brown eyes talking to him? Did she just call his sweatshirt cute? And, most importantly, was that a good thing?
I don't know what I expected. Perhaps I thought I'd make him blush. Instead he locked his blue eyes on mine and smiled. I couldn't just let it go now.
"I'll have to borrow it sometime." You're right, hinting at borrowing a guy's clothes could be termed "forward". I'd prefer to call it "gutsy". Anyway, as would soon become a staple in our relationship, Jon and I allowed the situation to escalate... he couldn't let me win.
Without hesitation he began tugging at his shirt sleeves. "Sure," he said, pulling it over his head. "Here you go." He taunted me with it.
You know me. I was sitting in a room full of my closest friends, at church. And, because of fate and Jon's blue eyes and my indomitable spirit of competition, I reached out and took the sweatshirt from his hand. With a sweet smile, I pulled it on. Jon's warmth and goodness were still in the fabric.
That was the beginning.
Beyond that are many love stories. But my favorite, and the one that needs to be told in honor of this day, is our first Valentine's Day together.
In Jon's Jetta, as red as our happiness, we zipped up to Stinson Beach and played Go on a blanket in the sand. He creamed me. I frowned and walked towards the surf. It was a truly beautiful day, bright sun and blue sky, pure ocean. But I'd lost a game, and my brow was furrowed with frusteration.
What happened? I ran over my plays in my mind. Because in the beginning it has looked like I would win. Because I'd captured so many of his stones. Because I was so confident, cocky even. I focused on the blinding horizon, squinting.
Jon came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. He pressed the pink sticky note into my hand. On it he'd written, "I love you." When I looked up, he was smiling. His smile warmed me from deep inside. I focused on his mouth, the tender curve of his smile.
"I love you." It was the first time he'd ever said it.
Simple. I suddenly knew what William Blake meant when he said:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And A Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour.
Jonathan is, to me, all the things that make human love possible. He is my best friend, my companion, my supporter, my sounding board, my guardian angel, my conscience, my lover, my boyfriend, my date, my everything. And it's not easy. That's what's so human about our love. The promise to stay forever, and to forgive and to cherish, that was easy. Actually staying, always forgiving, never ceasing to cherish... all of these are more than difficult. But with daily maintenance, a sense of humor, God, all things are possible.
The boy who let me borrow his favorite sweatshirt (which, incidentally, I kept for many months, long before we even were dating, and still is worn on occasion) is still here with me. Even as he is also the man who provides the strength and determination for our marriage, the man who knelt before me and asked that I accompany him on the proverbial walk through life, he is my boy. My guy. My knight. My prince.
Valentine's Day may well be just a commercialized Tuesday. More than that, though, it is an opportunity that all should take to think about those they love. To jump-start the cherishing of family, friends and lovers alike.
Jon sent me flowers, and a stuffed bear wearing a red sweater. I loved it all. But the biggest reminder of why I love my Jonathan came when he gave me a conspiratory wink, and helped me put the little red sweater on Disney. For all who are ready to jump down my throat with accusations of animal cruelty... don't. Disney liked his new accessory. He didn't want to take it off. And the sight left Jon and I reeling with laughter, a very important element to any happy relationship.
Today I choose to forget about the commercials and the cliches. Instead, I remember all the things I loved and love and will love about my husband. And I'll do my best to do the things he loved and loves and will love about me... as long as we both shall live.
Valentine's Day 2003: Our first picture together.