Sarah’s Dusty Valentine

I swear I only celebrated Valentine’s Day this year to help support the local Rotary Club.

Over the years, I suspect I’ve changed a bit. That’s what Dusty tells me anyway, but so has he! And we’ll probably change some more over the next few years as well. When Dusty and I first met, we both agreed not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because of all the reasons I still hear others complain about:

  • It’s just a Hallmark holiday
  • Red and pink make you stink (courtesy of my cousin Adele who advised against wearing these colors simultaneously)
  • Who the hell was St. Valentine anyway?
  • You should love your partner on every day of the year
  • Isn’t the only reason Valentine’s Day became romantic is because it coincides with some birds’ mating season? Weird.
  • Valentine’s Day cheapens the idea of “real” love
  • It’s a ploy to make corporations money

While I still believe these statements have some value, I’ve also come to believe it’s not so bad to use Valentine’s Day as a little jolt to remember to go out of my way to show Dusty I love him. Sure, I should be showing him love every day of the year, but let’s face it — some days I just don’t feel like it! Some days find me exhausted, annoyed, frustrated, irritable, spent. On those days, the last thing I feel like doing is pouring part of myself into someone when I have nothing left to pour. And let’s be honest…there are some days that I can’t find mind space to think about going out of my way to show Dusty some love.

Love is both passive and active. The passive falling in love part is easy! Early on, we went on dates, laughed, had drinks, connected on all kinds of new levels. And it just kind of happened to us. It was awesome! There was excitement, anticipation, energy, and potential for anything! Love had already happened to us. Isn’t that all that needed to happen, and then just wait for the happily ever after part?

The active part of love is harder. And by harder, I simply mean more committal, requires more engagement, and is sometimes even tedious. After so many new connections were created between Dusty and me, there were fewer things to be as excited about. Old news. Less information needed to be shared to continue getting to know one another. We had to learn (actually, still learn every day) how to actively love each other.

Personally, I think that’s where some relationships struggle sometimes because we desire to keep learning about our partner but either:

1) one partner stops learning and growing so there’s not very much new stuff to engage in (yawn, boring)

or

2) one partner is learning and growing, but the other partner declines the opportunity (knowingly or unknowingly) to engage in that process because s/he forgot how. Or because it’s too uncomfortable. Or it’s inconvenient.

Then it manifests as “growing apart,” “losing touch with each other,” “miscommunicating,” “mid-life crisis.”

But the act of showing love can also be goofy and charming; revitalizing and energizing; off-the-wall or wacky; tender or inspiring. The thing is, I still have to remember to go out of my way to think of these things and DO them in a way that I know Dusty will interpret them as acts of love. He must do the same for me.

And sometimes we fail colossally. Of course I want Dusty to know I love him. He knows that passive love thing is always there for sure. But I want him to feel every day that I love him. That knowledge only comes from me thinking of ways, and then actively showing him, in ways that he receives as feeling loved, just like Gary Chapman describes in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Since reading this book, we colossally fail much less often.

Enter Valentine’s Day in Loveland, Colorado. Loveland loves love! Year-round the city displays hearts of some kind just because the name almost obligates them, but watch out during Valentine’s season! There are red hearts displayed around the city with proclamations of love by the locals. Thompson Valley Rotary Heart Program hosts this program annually as a fundraiser. This year, I thought, hmm, what better way to show Dusty I love him than to display it publicly in a hokey, Hallmark-y ploy to make money for someone else?

So when sales started in January, I racked my brain with ways to profess my love in 25 or less characters in a way that would make it undeniably from me to him.

The result — “Sarah’s heart is Dusty.”

Play on words, I know, so hopefully people don’t think this is a feel-sorry-for me heart saying Sarah’s heart is old, shelved, and untouched for decades. Either way, once I purchased it, I thought maybe I should tell Dusty he better stick with me at least one more month because I already paid for this thing. But that would take any element of surprise out of it for him.

It got hung in late January right there for the world to see next to Safeway. I dropped ridiculous hints, like texts imparting my ‘dusty heart’ and repeatedly asking when he would be going to Loveland and what stops he needed to make. Two problems with this show of affection and the dropping of hints:

1) Dusty has never paid attention to these hearts in the past.

2) He’s away from home a lot for work and when he is home, he doesn’t really drive around a lot if he doesn’t have to.

Both these criteria are required for him to view my declaration of dusty love.

Eventually, I realized he wasn’t ever going to see it if I didn’t tell him. So I unceremoniously stopped at Safeway on my way to work one morning, snapped a photo of it, and texted my dusty love pic to him so at least the act of love itself wouldn’t go unrevealed.

For those wondering, my Dusty love personally delivered yellow roses, along with some Taco John’s potato oles with a side of nacho cheese, at my job. Yellow roses — sweet, traditional, and common for this Hallmark holiday. Potato oles — unconventional, nostalgic, and pleasing to my taste buds. Nacho cheese — just icing on the cake! Dusty going out of his way to perform this act of love — priceless. He knows how to make this girl happy!

This year, Valentine’s Day gave me a little jolt, that little reminder, that I always need to make time to go out of my way to show my husband I love him. Maybe not every day, but once a year is just not enough. Maybe not in such a public display, but certainly not in ways that go unnoticed by the very person I’m trying to show. Clearly I sometimes just have to point my intent or actions out to him so at least he knows I’m trying!

I hope that I remember not to allow daily life monotony to create love lethargy or to make the act of loving tedious. Thanks, St. Valentine, you possibly one of three priests or martyrs, or whoever you were, for jolting me into going out of my way for love. (See reasons above about why not to celebrate Valentine’s Day.)

I figured, this act of love counts for about 30 days worth of loving acts so I can passively ride the love wave until the heart is removed and I have to get active again. But I will do something again, and it will be before next Valentine’s Day!

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