Valentine's Day -- 02/14/00

These Valentine's Day musings are partly based on a similar entry I made two years ago, but the feelings I have for my wife are even stronger now than then and I thought that rather than just provide a link to that earlier entry, I would copy it into here and then expand on it. This entry is my contribution to the Speaking Freely webring February collaberation. It is also a Valentine's Day love note to my wife.

We always tell people that we met through computer dating. It was twenty-three years ago. She was a college senior carrying a double major: pre-med and math (with a computer science concentration). I was taking grad courses in computer science and was working as a second shift computer operator at the university where she was a student. I knew her enough to recognize her as a computer student and to smile or nod hello. On this night she came to the window to ask about the positions of her jobs in the batch queues. I wrote her job names on a blank computer card (yes, twenty-three years ago folks, computer programs were keypunched onto cards -- in this case, IBM 5081 cards) and then went to the main console to check on their location in the queues. (And yes, I did increase the priority on her jobs so that they moved up in the queues.) And before going back to the window I stopped at a key punch machine and key punched onto the card: HOW ABOUT DINNER AND A MOVIE SATURDAY NIGHT? After she read the card she told me she would let me know, and then she checked me out with some friends who knew me before coming back to agree to the date.

We went out that Saturday for dinner (Augustino's Restaurant in the Oakdale Mall). On our way through the mall from the restaurant to the mall cinema we were solicited by a woman at a kiosk, offering to take our photograph, which we could then have printed up, perhaps overlaying the sheet music for "our song." We found this amusing, told her that we were on our first date. (Although I have been guilty sometimes of leading people on when telling this story, claiming that we led the woman to believe that she was a married woman and that we were afraid her husband would find out if we had our picture taken.) In actuality, I did have an urge to let her take our picture but it did seem a silly thing to do on a first date and I was afraid she would think I was a bit wacky if I did such a thing. Now, of course, I dearly wish that we did have a picture of us together on our first date.

That was in 1977. We were married in 1979 -- twice. We wanted our own ceremony but we did not know anyone licensed to perform marriages in New York State who might be willing to use our ceremony. We solved this by having two weddings. The first was before a judge in his chambers. This took care of the legal requirements. (After the ceremony we went out to lunch with the two couples who had attended us, choosing an outdoor table at a small restaurant in our neighborhood.) The next weekend we had our own ceremony that we had designed and written, incorporating bits of poetry and Bible verse and musical accompaniment on guitar and recorder. Our best man and our maid of honor joined us in reading our ceremony and at the conclusion we proclaimed ourselves to be married. The wedding was in her parents' backyard -- the weather was perfect, a beautiful June afternoon -- the lawn set with tables and chairs, the patio for dancing to the music of a live band. It was a great party, still in full sway when we had to leave to catch our flight to London for our honeymoon.

The next year we became home owners. In 1982 our daughter was born and our son in 1985. Meanwhile, we completed our master's degrees together, even co-authored our thesis: Human Factors Engineering and the Design of On-Line Computer Application Systems.

So much has happened over the years. Times of great joy and times of great sorrow, but we have been together, sharing and helping each other. Time passes so quickly. I remember when we first planned on living together and went shopping for bath towels. I remember wandering about London together, exploring the museums and pubs and the Tower and riding double-decker buses and watching tennis at Wimbleton and staring in awe at Stonehenge. I remember buying our first house and going to childbirth classes and putting up wallpaper in our daughter's bedroom and seemingly just days later (but it was really three years) papering our son's room and videotaping our daughter's graduation from nursery school and then from kindergarten and then (it can only have been last week) we were at her junior high school graduation and in just four more months she will graduate high school. Minutes and hours and days and years speed by so quickly but we have each other, to have, to hold, to love...

We have been together to support each other in times of loss: my mother's death, then my father's death, her father's death, and then her grandmother's death. She was there for me; I was there for her.

Despite love, two people can hurt each other; but with love they can also learn not to hurt but to help each other. She is my partner, my companion, my best friend, my true love. We have been through difficult times, but our love has helped us through and our partnership is all the stronger, our bonds are stronger.

There are many ways of expressing love. It can be done with candy or jewelry. It can be a silly romantic card sent for no particular occasion at all. Flowers brought home for no reason other than to say I love you. Bringing a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea at night. A brief touch of finger tips to finger tips. A smile across a room. A walk on a beach. A hug. It is not forgetting that love is not static, it is not a marble statue, it is organic and alive and growing and must be nurtured and cared for and cherished and shared.

Now it is Valentine's Day 2000. In a few days it will be twenty-three years since I turned a punch card into an invitation to dinner and a movie. This June we will celebrate our twenty-first wedding anniversary. It might be romatnic to say that I am every bit as much in love now as I was then, but actually I think I am even more in love now.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hi! If you've just popped in via the Speak Freely Webring February collaberation... welcome... Feel free to check out the previous entry or the following entry... or browse through all of my entries for the year 2000 so far or look at my archives (1996 thru 1999).

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