February is the month of love. Well, at least the retail stores want you to believe that. We are expected to give the one we love a box of candy or a card that spells out our undying love. Perhaps a romantic dinner with candles and soft music playing in the back ground. Whatever you decide, the one thing you don't want to forget is a kiss.
Kisses don't cost a single penny. It is not like those days, not so long ago, when you might see at a festival or a county fair a young lady selling kisses for a good cause and charging only a dollar. Chances are that today if that kissing booth were operating you would have to sign a medical waiver and check the person's photo ID. A kiss that previously cost a dollar would now cost $20, plus tax. No cash or check payments, you can only pay with a credit card or Pay Pal from your phone. Paid in full at a moment's notice before the kiss is given.
Most likely holding hands came first when we discovered we were attracted to someone. The next step may have been a kiss in a budding romance. We each began feeling a romantic attraction to someone while still in grade school, we called it puppy love. First a smile from a person sitting across the room from you. Next, one of her friends comes up to you at recess and asks, "Do you like ____ ?" You look around and make sure none of your friends can hear your answer before indicating that you do. Later that day a neatly folded piece of paper is found on the corner of your desk. Inside it asks, "Are you going to the dance Friday night?" You smile and nod that you are.
The teacher may be oblivious to the budding romance in the room, but your friends are not. As you leave class a couple of your friends taunt you by saying, "You've got a girlfriend! You've got a girlfriend!" The young lady and her friends giggle at your sudden notoriety. Your hands begin to sweat and you feel the room has gotten a little warmer. This is something new that you have never experienced before.
Before long Friday night comes and your hands have begun to sweat once again and now your mouth is dry. Your friends stand back and watch as you struggle to make your way to the young girl sitting with her friends. Then comes the really hard part, asking her to dance. You try and figure how to take her hand in yours. After that, what to do with other one? You know you are supposed to reach around and place it in the middle of her back. In your mind you realize, "I am touching a girl." The music begins and you start to drag your feet and pretend you know how to dance. In your young life this has to be the hardest thing you have ever done. At first you just want this to be over as quickly as possible so you can hurry back to your friends.
But, something happens along the way as you dance around the room. You begin to forget about your friends standing and grinning at you. You realize it is not so bad after all holding her hand. You notice her hand is a little sweaty too, but it is also very soft. You begin to not feel as bad about your own nervousness as you begin to talk. You begin to hear the music and your feet find their own way without you thinking about every step.
Then something happens you had not anticipated, you make eye contact with the young lady and you realize you are only inches away from her. Down deep for the first time you realize maybe girls are not so bad after all.
The evening has gone well and you find yourself talking for the first time, not about school or sports or what is playing at the Lincoln Theater Friday night. You talk about stuff. You know stuff girls and boys would talk about when trying to understand this new thing called socializing with the opposite sex.
She tells you about what she did last summer on her family vacation at the beach. You tell her about your dog and how he can fetch a stick. Then you talk about what you did at Bruce Pool and how your friend got in trouble with the lifeguard for cannon balling off the high dive. She tells you about her friend spilling ice cream on the floor at Thomas Drug Store. You giggle; you think to yourself, I don't giggle. But it feels good when you giggle with this new friend.
After a while the unthinkable happens, they announced time for the last dance. Now, you look her in the eye and take her hand. No longer sweaty as it was earlier in the evening. You stand close to her and begin to dance. The music is playing but somehow it is unimportant. Then you don't know who made the move, but you find yourself holding her close, close enough to feel her heartbeat.
At first, you don't realize the music has stopped, but then someone taps you on the shoulder and says the dance is over. Without thinking, you do the unimaginable before this evening began. You give her a kiss. It was awkward and mostly your lips pressing against hers. But at the last moment before you release her, she presses back. You don't look at her as you walk hand and hand toward the coat room. Then it is time to let her hand go. In a moment she is joined by her friends and you by yours. Laughing and smiling as you all make your way outside to where your parents are waiting. As you start to get into the back seat you see her looking your way. She smiles and waves. Life is good.
When we are young, life is a long road ahead of us that seems to have no end. We tend not to worry about tomorrow because we know it will always come. If we are lucky, we find someone that will travel that road through the good times and the not so good times. If we can share those times with someone that still makes our hands sweaty and we can just sit and talk about stuff we are lucky.
Valentine's Day is not about candy or fancy cards. It is not about romantic candlelit dinners. It is about realizing and appreciating that if we have someone special in our life, it is the best gift of all. Valentine's Day is when we remember that a kiss and a smile with someone we love can be the best gift of all. My valentine to my wife is "Sealed With a Kiss" as we look thru the lens.