Not sure if you guys were aware, but Valentine’s Day happened.

This year, I spent mine serving jury duty at the Kings County courthouse. It wasn’t so bad. I only had to go the one day, and now I’m off the hook for eight years. And best of all, my honey came and met me to have a hamburger on my lunch break.

We did the tally a day or two ago, of how long we’ve been together. It’s kind of a hard and fast number, what with the false start and the temporary breakup and all, but still… it’s about seven years. More than a quarter of my life spent in the company of the first person I ever chose to love.

It was Presidents’ Day, the day that I kind of think of as our “first date,” when I was awoken early after not nearly enough sleep by a phone call from him, asking me to come meet him in Central Park to revel in the snow limning the bright orange planes of Cristo’s Gates before the rest of the world discovered them. And because I was in love, I went. And we didn’t kiss or hug or do anything all that romantic. We held hands a little, and we talked a lot, and we’d stare at each other like we weren’t quite sure what to make of the person in front of us. While I can’t speak for him, I can say for myself without reservation that I was scared to death.

I’ve never been a very romantic or emotional person. I’m still not. I can be very hard to touch, but when I am, I feel it 1000%. I’m not very trusting and don’t often let people in. Because when I do, they’re there forever.

So after the Gates, we went back to his dorm and watched a movie, and he promptly fell asleep. I would later learn that this was something of a regular occurrence, of course, but at the time all I could do was lay there with him, watching his pulse beat through the soft skin under his jaw and panic. The feeling I had for this funny, perfect, mystery of a boy was far too large and it made me uncomfortable. I chose, then and there, to try and subdue it, to try and ignore it until I could be certain that a feeling of similar scope existed in the boy.

But love doesn’t work that way. I did manage to hide the feeling, but it still had its roots deep in me. And so when all that hiding meant the boy (quite rightly) assumed I didn’t care, and he left, I was crushed. Heartbroken.

One never blames oneself, of course. I picked up my chin and carried on. And when the odd workings of the world brought us back together, I was nettled that the love came right back too, completely uninvited. But after a little while, it didn’t seem like such a hardship. It just seemed peaceful and comfortable and sustaining. And although it meant disrupting all the neat little world I’d arranged, I made a choice. I chose, then and there, to let both him and the love in.

This will probably go down in history as the best choice I ever made.

This isn’t to say that it’s been easy. There have been angry times, and mean times, and one time in particular where we both felt so helpless in the face of our inability to communicate that the only option seemed to be ending things. But all those times have been tempered and saved by the sweet times, the silly times, and that one time in particular where we realized that in spite of the other’s faults, we were still each other’s favorite person in the whole world. In the intervening years between that Presidents’ Day and now, we’ve grown up quite a lot. Thanks to a lot of talking, laughing, arguing, cooking, playing, singing, cleaning, travelling, sleeping, eating, watching, working, writing, calling, walking, riding, touching, and smiling; we’ve grown together rather than apart.

So when I’m sitting in a burger joint, waiting on my honey and for our order to come up, and I see him walk through the door, I smile. I smile because he’s much better looking than all the other guys in the burger joint. I smile because he has perfect timing and can hold our table while I go grab our order. But mostly I smile because I’m about to have lunch with and get a kiss from my best friend, and we are going to talk to each other and have a good time, and even if it weren’t Valentine’s Day, we’d still be doing it.

I smile because if it snowed tomorrow, he would still call me at some impossible hour to come share its beauty with him. And because I’m in love, I’d go.