I wrote my annual Valentine’s Day letter to my husband, but neglected to post it until now. Leap Day’s practically Valentine’s Day, right? In nearly every way? Well, enjoy this self-indulgent peek into my psyche and pathetically fine love life.
It’s February 14, 2012. Today was the 153rd birthday of Oregon’s statehood, and to celebrate, the weather did all sorts of theatrics: rain, hail, blue sky and sunshine, all within a matter of minutes. We Oregonians took notice, impressed even while annoyed.
I went to an Oregon trail party tonight, hosted by my best friend from high school, Jen and her husband Jamison. Dressed in our best pioneer gear—for me, just pilfered from my closet, embarrassingly enough—we watched an Oregon Trail documentary, narrated by some old white guys. We then played “Pin the City on the State,” completed with giant map of Oregon and blindfold. I learned the location of Brookings, Bend, and Bandon, before we took turns reading aloud Oregon facts. Did you know that the meadlowlark is our state bird, and that Portland boasts the country’s smallest city park (2-feet in diameter)?
It’s also Valentine’s Day.
I gave out Toy Story 3 valentines with tiny tattoos in them to my entire office, even those folks I barely know. I felt like I was back in elementary school again, over-analyzing every printed message, not sure about giving valentines to everyone. It seemed silly, but I wanted people to feel special, even if just for a moment. The tiniest instant. I wanted to do that for someone.
As usual, I didn’t feel the weight of loneliness until I was reminded what I didn’t have. A rose on a windshield, men buying flowers in Fred Meyer, a note or two on Facebook walls—they were brief and beautiful reminders of how others celebrate. I was simply loving my state and my friends, which are two things quite deserving of affection, but not necessarily what Hallmark tells me this day is about.
I re-read my letter to you last year. It was sad and sweet. I can remember that late night, typing through tears, as I poured out my heart to a computer screen. I was very honest that night. I missed you.
There are no tears this year. I’m in a different place. I’m not exactly sure where that place is, but it’s different. Three of my best friends got married in the past twelve months. The rest of them are dating or married (save for one blessed woman who keeps me sane). They are blissful and happy in their coupledom, and I am thankful for their happiness.
I am happy, but in a different way.
Sweetie, this was the year I decided not to wait for you. It was never a conscious decision to wait, just the subconscious thought that once I have someone to watch my bag in the airport, then I’ll travel. We’ll see places together, take too many photos, argue a bit because we’re jet-lagged, hold hands while walking down the street of wherever we are.
But darling, I’m a year older, and you’re not here yet. I don’t know where you are, but you aren’t here. So what’s a girl to do? Wait for life to start until you decide to show up? Not on your life, bucko.
See, most days I’m not convinced you exist. I rarely feel certain about anything, and all signs point to a life of singleness. In my dear culture, it’s the worst kind of existence, and I’ve been reliably informed that I won’t really know how much God loves me until I meet my husband and have children. To which I want to make an extremely rude gesture. Sorry, sweetie—I’m not quite as gracious as I should be.
Instead, I’m trying to teach myself—or let God teach me—how to live a life with Him alone. I am attempting to become confident in who I am and how I exist without another human to validate me. Because on the off-chance that you don’t exist (in which case I should stop writing letters to imaginary folks), I don’t want to live as part of a whole that will never be.
I don’t want to live half of a life.
So, I did it. I went to movies and musicals and foreign countries, all by myself. I booked flights, hotels, rental cars, all on my own. I walked around unfamiliar cities (yes, even with my sense of direction; stop laughing), and drank in the richness of the unknown. I loved and I lost and I lived. Without you.
Remember what I said last year? About you not being done baking yet? Well, I’ve got to tell you, I feel like I’ve baked a lot this year. I’m still not done. I have a ways to go. But I’m becoming firmer, more confident and more bold.
I don’t know what you’re learning, who you’re becoming. I certainly hope you are taking cooking classes, because one of us is going to have to, and I’ve already called “Not it!” But in all seriousness, I hope you’re becoming more like the man God has created you to be. I have high expectations—too high, some would say—but I’m certain you are going to meet them, exceed them, and never reach them, all at the same time.
There are times I really miss you. Silly times. When I have to fold newly washed sheets. Or when the vacuum cord gets wrapped around furniture. Or when I lug my baggage into airport restrooms.
Here’s honesty: I am terribly afraid to live this life without you. But I can’t seem to find you, and I refuse to wait. I refuse to become a prisoner to you, when you’ve never asked me to halt my life until you come. Because I have this very real, very vivid sense that once I start living my life fully and deeply, then you will arrive.
Until then, my love, don’t give too much of your heart away. Do the things that are hard and scary. Live life and mature until our paths cross. Continue baking in the warmth of God’s provision and journey.
And if you were out with a girl tonight, take a good look at her, because if you think she’s great, trust me. I’m gonna blow your mind.
I love you. See you as soon as possible.