In The Red

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Even with eyes closed, I see clearly how my present has overturned the past. Years ago, today would have been a day invariably colored with all the hodgepodge accompaniments of the occasion. Flowers, yes. Chocolates, yes. Books, trinkets, the insufferably cute stuffed toy, check. Emotional inanities and furtive displays of affection, check.

Today, it is just another day with random greetings on the phone, a wayward email from the ex insisting on false pleasantries, work continuing to pile up, random meetings, mommy duties.

In the evening I suddenly decided to quit obsessing over work and go home. On impulse, I open a bottle of red wine and pour myself a glass. I nibble on some leftover chocolate, handing some of it to baby Jet, who proceeded to spread brown mush all over his cheeks. After a while, the boys get sleepy and go upstairs, leaving me to the TV. There’s nothing much to watch, and with my erratic schedule, I seem to have missed all the good shows. The wine lulls me to a pleasant state of languor, and I let the hours pass.

On the table I pick up the red handmade card my three year old son brought home from nursery school. There were three fold-out hearts cut from red cardboard, with glitter smooshed on them. They contained the letters i, a squiggly Tiny_heart_1, and a u. On the inside, it said ‘I Love You, Mom and Dad! Happy Valentines.’

My son doesn’t know how to write yet, so the letters on the card were written by his teacher and traced over by Jeremy’s little fingers. Trust in the care of strangers to mess up the sentiment.

What forces have conspired through the years to bring me inelegantly, to this—drinking alone on a supposedly red-letter day for love? I had good wine, I had chocolate, the equation is two-thirds complete. And yes, I did get some wet sloppy kisses before this day was done, so I guess the occasion is properly marked as well.

However you spend it, happy hearts’ day, everyone.


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