February 14, 1986
She was frozen in place in the door way. Kids were behind her trying to push past but she wouldn't move. Her big, brown, seven year old eyes were trying to take everything in.
Red and pink construction paper hearts hung from the ceiling. Every one of them was different. One had white stripes on it. Another was very small with purple polka dots. A third was perfectly shaped with a white ribbon trim. Every desk had a shoe box on it that was decorated with construction paper and glitter as well. There were sticker hearts and little Cupids on the windows. Pink, white, and red streamers covered the blackboard.
Kate walked over to her desk, her rubber boots squeaking as she went. Her eyes were still wide and she finally just gained enough awareness to close her mouth. She took her jacket off and hung it on the back of her chair. She sat down and thought to herself that this day was going to be perfect.
She had never seen her classroom so decorated for any holiday. Sure there were some Christmas decorations, and a couple of Easter eggs, but this topped them all.
Her father had just started to explain to her what Valentines Day meant. It was a romantic day when people in love fell even deeper. Fairy tales tended to come true on this day. Princesses found their princes.
This princess knew who her prince would be today. Even at the early age of 7, Kate knew who she wanted to fall in love with. Michael sat at the other end of the room, but they sometimes played together at recess. Kate never knew what to say to him. But today she didn't have to say anything. A simple card would work.
"Children, will you all sit down please? We can start handing out valentines but you all have to listen first!"
All the kids took their seats and quieted down.
"We are going to do this in an orderly manner, no yelling or screaming, no running either. You can go ahead now class."
Within seconds chaos ensued. The teacher did her best to keep order, but the young love in the room was too strong to be tamed.
The girls and boys started handing out their cards, the store bought ones went to everyone, and then the few handmade ones that most of the girls carried went to special friends and a select boy or two.
When Kate finished stuffing everyone's shoe box with her Barbie valentines, she only had two left. They were both very special. She spent a lot of time making them both. One would go to her best friend Hannah, the other, to Michael.
She made her way over to Hannah. They giggled about what Kate was about to do. She was going to claim her prince today. This thought brought them both to laughter.
She smoothed out her dark brown curls, flattened her skirt, licked her lips, and made her way to the other side of the room. She stood over Michael's desk as he looked up at her.
"Hi" he said.
"Uhm, hi, I uh, I wanted to give this to you Michael." Michael didn't say a word as he took her valentine. She stood there in silence for an awkward moment before she walked away.
As the rest of the day went on, Kate kept stealing glances towards the other side of the room. He never looked back.
The bell rang signaling recess, and as soon as everyone put on their coats and hats, Kate was making her way over to Michael. Right before she got to him she saw he had her valentine in his hand. She didn't expect what was to come next though. Her big, brown, seven year old eyes watched in shock as he threw the card in the trash bin.
Kate didn't play at recess at all that day. She hid in the bathroom from everyone crying.
February 14, 2006.
It's going to be different this year. This is the first year I will actually enjoy Valentine's Day she thought to herself as she picked up her laundry.Kate hadn't experiences a Valentine's Day that turned out well for her ever. Not since that first one with Michael in 1st grade.
In high school, she seemed to get dumped every year on February 14, in college, she either spent it was a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough or alone.
This year was going to be the year to change the bad luck Kate thought. She had a boyfriend this year and was pretty sure she wasn't going to get dumped. His name was Noah; they had been dating for almost a year now. They had met a couple weeks after her last disastrous Valentine's Day.
It was one of those cliché type meetings. He was in line for coffee, she was running late. She bumped into him; he dropped his drink on her. He apologized, she asked him out. It had been going smoothly so far. Kate sent a silent prayer up that it Noah would make it through the night.
She walked down the busy city block; all around her couples were walking hand in hand it seemed. As she approached the fountain at the park it was even worse. A couple sat on a bench feeding crumbs to some pigeons. Another man surprised his lover with a rose from behind his back. She tried to shield the sun from her eyes with her free hand as she took in all these images. Kate suddenly realized how alone she felt at the moment.
She pulled her cell out of her pocket, shifting her laundry from one side to the other, and as she dialed, she tried to come up with an excuse to call him. Nothing came to mind.
He answered just as she reached her apartment building. "Hey, uh listen Katie; I'm kinda busy right now I don't really have time to talk. Can I, uhm, call you back later? That will work right? Later?"
"Oh, sure I guess so." Disappointment found its way into Kate's voice as she spoke. She paused outside the building to hear his response.
"Oh don't worry, Katie, you didn't do anything wrong. It's just me. We'll, uh, talk later alright?"
"Okay". Her response was barley audible. This is it, she thought, he's breaking up with me. He's going to do it tonight just like everyone else did.
As she opened the door to her New York loft apartment, she tried to keep the tears out of her eyes. She had assumed they still had their date tonight. He said it was going to be a surprise, but he probably didn't have anything planned since he knew he was going to get rid of her tonight.
She walked into her bathroom, tossing the clean laundry on the floor of her bedroom as she passed through. If I'm going to get rejected again tonight, I might as well look good, show him what he's loosing, she thought. Kate effortlessly tossed her dark curls into a bun at the base of her neck. She brushed some blush on her cheeks and topped it off with a little mascara.
She sorted through her closet to find the perfect break up outfit. Was red too cliché for Valentines Day? What about leopard print? Does that make me look like I'm trying to hard? She settled on a vintage black mini dress. She wore it every year on this day. It was almost a tradition. She didn't know why she even bothered looking for something else to wear. If she was going to get dumped, this dress was the perfect one to wear.
She left her messy bedroom behind and headed for the kitchen. With a few minutes to spare before Noah arrived, she decided to pour herself a glass of wine. Just as she situated herself on her modern white sofa, in her modern white living room, Noah knocked on her door.
She took her time walking to the door, barefoot and wine in hand. When she opened it, she just stared. He was a mess: shirt un-tucked and mis-buttoned, hair messed up, circles under his eyes, wrinkled pants, and untied shoes.
"Katie, you look amazing." He didn't wait for her to say anything before he continued.
"Look Katie, I've been thinking a lot about this and…" she hid her face in her shoulder. She didn't want him to see her when she started to cry. They stood awkwardly in between her apartment and the outside hallway.
"What's wrong Katie, why won't you look at me?"
"Because I know what's going to happen. Jeez, you rush me off the phone this morning, you don't make plans for tonight, you come here looking like that. Noah, why couldn't you just break up with me yesterday? Why did you have to do it today?"
Tears poured from her eyes when he didn't say anything back right away.
"Break up with you? Is that what you think? Katie, I'm going to ask you to marry me."