One year ago today I was spending the morning in Florida babysitting and anxiously awaiting for the afternoon and night to come around. You see, I had not one but two dates for Valentine’s Day. At this point I’d lived in Florida for one month, I new I’d be there for just a couple more, and then just a couple after that I’d be living in Africa (so I thought… but we now know that Moldova was the ultimate destination). Date number 1 I’d met at a sushi restaurant where some volleyball friends took me. He was nice, Italian, and… he had a Ferrari. But he was also older than me. I knew better than to let him take me to his apartment in Naples, but I wasn’t opposed to a lunch “date”, if he came with the car. Which he did. It was awkward with the server thinking we were together because we were alone and out for lunch on Valentine’s Day, but it was clear I was only interested in going for a ride in his car, and I wasn’t going to say no to sushi. He was a nice guy and at one point had a lot of money, but he was a hairstylist who seemed to be bitter about his wife leaving him and taking all of his money… and his house. So she he said, “let’s go back to Naples… I have a box of chocolates and a card for you but I accidentally left it at my apartment”, it wasn’t difficult for me to say, “no, sorry, I have to babysit in an hour”. I was living in Florida for babysitting, after all. But really… I just wanted to go home and relax and get ready for my next date. Bye bye Ferrari (which, also, is not all that it’s cracked up to be.)
Date number 2 was much better. It was with a guy (my age) from Scotland who, ironically, I’d met the same night at the same bar as Mr. Ferrari. He picked me up in his Jeep that was really on the last stretch of it’s life, and he was dressed very casually. I’d told him at one point that it had been years since I’d had lobster, and even though we weren’t dating, he was determined for me to have lobster (and a date) on Valentine’s Day. So we went to a bar and grill. It was so laid back, SportsCenter was on (playing soccer), and there was absolutely no pressure. I even caught a lobster from a fish tank (like one of those claw machines in the bowling ally where you try to get a stuffed animal)… and it was cooked right there for me. It was so much fun! Then, when dinner was done, he took me home and that was it. We continued to talk after that, but there was no pressure and it was just as friends. Which was great.
So, a year ago I had two dates. Today I have a date with 2 batches of brownies I made, construction paper, and a couple of movies. Not as exciting or as scandalous… but it will do. After all, it is only a day that Hallmark commercialized and made it into a bigger holiday across the world than in America. And it’s also a day that makes recent singles feel even more sad than usual, but, you know. Asa e viata (that’s life).
But I did make a bunch of construction paper hearts and when I went on a walk from the grocery store back to Peace Corps I taped them on to random walls and polls outside, and then gave one to a woman who seemed freezing sitting on a bench trying to sell things. I think it made her day. Even if it didn’t, it definitely made mine.