Valentine's Day coming up. Not really my favorite holiday. I prefer Groundhog Day, find it more hopeful. Valentine's Day seems so forced and not really made for people with all our flaws and broken parts.
Remember when you were young? Remember lists of boyfriend criteria, qualities or characteristics you desired? The thing is that Melanoma Man and I never had the qualities on the other's list. So we had to throw the list out. He envisioned a tall willowy blonde, ambitious and aggressive. I envisioned someone in the ballpark of my age range, protective, not super tall, not super thin . A person who would take care of things, plan, let me be in charge of the house and the kids and where we would live. In 1995 melanoma man decided quite suddenly that he was in love with me. We'd known each other for 4 years. I know 4 years doesn't qualify as sudden for most folks, but it seemed downright impulsive to me. Maybe he had a fever and would be better the next day? Each day he called and repeated that same annoying phrase, "I love you Laundry Thief." Only he didn't call me Laundry Thief then, nor does he now. He used my full given name and title every single time he called to tell me that he loved me, which was every day. It was getting ridiculous.Of course I did love talking to him. He was my best friend, still is. We had already had 2 breakups. I didn't think I had another reconciliation and breakup in me. So I drew my line in the sand: "I can talk to you under one condition: you may not tell me you love me. And that's final." To which he replied, " well that is just not possible."
And so it was. We did not speak again for the next 2 years. In the fall of 1997 a mutual friend casually mentioned that she had seen Melanoma Man, that he was leaving the very next month for a job in Armenia. I thought about it for 48 hours before I picked up the phone. Would he recognize my voice? I was perhaps even more nervous than the first time I called him 4 years earlier to ask him out on our first date. We talked for 2 hours, lots to catch up on. "So what are your plans?" he said.
"Plans? I don't have a plan."
"Call me back when you do."
I called back the next morning, "dinner, tonight?" And that was that, pretty much decided in a Mexican restaurant in Rosslyn Virginia. We spent every evening together for the next week before he began the first 6 weeks of his new job .We were officially engaged upon his return, in spite of our numerous imperfections and incompatibilities. Three days post engagement ,7 am,we sat in Gayle's office and got the news of the first melanoma. He tried to talk me into cashing out while I was ahead. But what about all those "I love yous." I finally believed him. There was no turning back for me.