God, how I hate heart-shaped jewelry. And cards that boast texturized roses, with large cursive script across the top saying "To the One I Love." These are often the cards that have tissue-like overlays and embossed messages the size of short novels. I loathe vats of red, grocery store roses, the easiest, cheapest, most cliched way to say "I Love You." They also say "These are a sure bet; Because, who doesn't like red roses?" I hate Mylar balloons that scream "Happy Valentine's Day." And I hate them even more if they're obnoxious and LARGE. Like, the size of a medium-sized child.
But I do love flowers, original arrangements on special occasions that make you stop what you're doing to admire them from time to time. And love songs. And simple notes of affection. Text messages that say he's thinking of me, voicemails that remind me I'm on his mind, emails that say he can't wait to get home. I love dining out on Sunday nights, at our favorite restaurant at a corner table. Candles and shiny silverware, soft gold lighting and hand-holding across table linens. I love a kiss for no reason, professions of affection out the blue.
I love when we lie down to sleep, and he pulls me into him. I love when we wake up, our bodies curled and facing each other, like closed parentheses. I love when he says, for no reason in particular, "I love you." I love when we make each other giggle, when the bed beneath our bodies shakes with our laughter. I love when he opens the door for me, lets me walk in ahead of him. I love how, when we're in a crowd, involved in separate conversations, he places his hand on the small of my back, just to let me know he's there. I love when he brushes stray hairs from my face, when he tucks a lock of it behind my ear for me when we talk face to face.
I love his smile, broad and consuming his whole face. I love his eyes, how they crinkle with a chuckle, widen with surprise. I love how he asks me if I've had enough to eat, if I need anything to drink. I love that he comes home with little surprises for me sometimes: The Twix that I mentioned the night before, the coffee I said I prefer, a bottle of red wine. I love how he listens to me, remembers my preferences and my requests. I love that he gives me the side of the bed where it's easier to see the TV. I love how he asks me if I've slept alright every morning, and if I had a good day every night.
I love that he sees in me exactly what I'm feeling: He knows when I'm sad, frustrated or angry; and exactly when I'm happy. I love that he asks to see my smile when I'm upset.
I love when he tells me I'm sexy, when he tells me I'm beautiful. I love that he makes me feel like he wants no one in this world but me. I love the way he looks at me when he gets home, the way he consumes me with tired eyes. I love that I feel beautiful around him, even with no makeup on and messy hair.
I love that he loves me for exactly who I am, that he doesn't want me to change in the slightest. I love that I know that what I am is enough for him, that I don't have to lose or gain a few pounds, that I don't have to watch what I say or how I say it. I love that I know he's going to love me even if I have a bad day, if my mood isn't always good.
And I love who he is. The way he makes everyone around him feel at ease, the way he gracefully slips into any situation. I love his intelligence, the broad knowledge he keeps, but doesn't flaunt. I love his sense of humor. I love everything he's done in his life that makes him who he is. I love the way he kisses, the way his hands feel on my skin, the way his skin feels beneath my fingertips. I love him.
I love that I was afraid of him, that our romance blossomed from nothing into something beyond what I'd ever imagined. I love that he took me completely by surprise, in being a gentleman, in being good to me, in being the man I had given up looking for. I love that he loves me back, just as much as I love him.
I love that, for the first time in a long time, I don't need Valentine's Day to know I'm loved.