We attended a very conservative Christian college in Saskatchewan. Boys were not permitted on the girls' floor. A central lounge area and porch separated the dorms. To contact someone from the opposite sex, you asked someone entering the dorm to take a message. No cell phones or personal computers back then.
On Valentine's Day, which happened to fall on a Saturday that year, I was in my room when I heard someone in the hall calling my name. I poked my head out the door and the messenger handed me a single red rose and a card. Other girls experienced the same, but I remember most of the girls in the dorm coming by to see MY card because it was so different, and almost risqué - referring to kisses and all. The inside of the card reads, "But you can keep trying."
That night we attended a concert in Regina, about an hour's drive away. Back then a date with just the two of us counted for more than a double date, and date points were strictly rationed by the month. We had saved enough points for a "just-the-two-of-us" date and planned to have dinner out before the concert.
En route to town, we saw a fellow classmate's car pulled over beside the road. Two couples stood beside it looking lost. We knew we had to stop and help, but we saw our "just-the-two-of-us" date disappearing fast. Sure enough, the car couldn't be started. We offered to take the couples into town and to drop them off wherever they wanted to have dinner, then pick them up again and take them to the concert. Being polite young Canadians, they insisted that wherever we were going was fine with them.
It wasn't fine with us. We wanted "just-the-two-of-us" for dinner. But Tim headed the car in the direction of our intended restaurant.
As we drove along, one of our passengers said sotto voce to another, "Isn't that where we were going to eat?"
Tim overheard, turned as soon as he could, and before anyone could say, "happy valentine's day," our erstwhile passengers were standing in front of their restaurant and we had arranged to pick them up to take them to the concert. We carried on to our own dinner à deux, glad for the escape and feeling only slightly guilty at ditching our companions.
Last week, while rummaging in a cupboard, I came across the old scrapbook containing the above page. No acid-free paper or tape. No fancy papers or stickers. The rose came wrapped in the green paper behind the card. The hearts were cut from some scrap. The caption is from a magazine. On the next page there is a placemat from the restaurant and ticket stubs from the concert. No words tell the story I've told here, but just looking at the pages brings it all back. I think of throwing away these old, crumbling scrapbooks, but I don't have the heart to do so. Maybe someday.
I'm so thankful for a love that has lasted a lifetime. I don't take it for granted. I know of so many aching hearts for whom such love does not exist. I have no secrets beyond mutual respect, shared values and a commitment to love even when love is not felt.
Happy Valentine's Day to my readers.