Sunday, February 15, 2015

This year, love is...

"You are totes adorbs." ~Shakespeare

Dear Husband and I had a long-distance relationship the four years I was in college and then the first year of graduate school. The February of my junior year, he surprised me by flying out so we could celebrate Valentine's Day together. (I remember, because I had to leave my MCAT class early on Saturday morning to see him off to the airport.) The other years we celebrated over Spring Break. He called it "Eastern Orthodox Valentine's Day," because Orthodox Christmas and Easter fall later than their Western Christian equivalents. It's a made-up holiday, another excuse for showing each other our love and appreciation, so why not celebrate on the day(s) that work with our schedules?

This year, love is a slow-motion celebration. I had call on Valentine's Day, so DH decided to surprise me with roses, a card, and dinner out a week early--for what he called "Southern Orthodox Valentine's Day." He must have thought I needed a pick-me-up after a difficult week of in-patient pediatric medicine--and he was right. Unfortunately, we discovered that night that our favorite locally owed Thai restaurant has apparently closed. Why else would it be dark at 6:30pm on a Friday night and the phone number disconnected? It's not the first "ethnic" restaurant that has closed in that strip mall; apparently Americana and Italiana do better in this corner of town. So we drove halfway across town to the locally owned Mediterranean restaurant, where we stuffed ourselves with lovely pita and cucumber-tomato salads and brought home enough leftovers for another full meal.

The next night, Dear Husband (a musician) and I (an academic) had tickets to the premiere run of a new play about a musician (Beethoven) and an academic (a fictionalized musicologist from the University who develops ALS). I am afraid I found the script, the set design, and the directing almost but not quite good enough. It doesn't help that I watched Wit over Winter Break, which does academic-discovers-herself-through-illness with more mature humor and philosophizing, or that at least half of the action of this play takes place in Bonn with jokes about how Germans don't have a sense of humor. If you can suspend your disbelief about the marginally competent nurse-boyfriend being able to take a several-months vacation from his hospital job to accompany the defiant-but-really-grieving daughter-girlfriend to care for her workaholic-mother--and if you can ignore the constant refrain of "Master, Master" erupting from the lips of Igor--I mean Anton Schindler, "friend of Beethoven"--you might cry when the pianist plays and the cast sings the "Kyrie" from Beethoven's "Missa solemnis." After that high point, the playwright couldn't leave well enough alone, so there two more scenes that try to tug at your heartstrings, but I felt as if that emotion had been played out by then. Nevertheless, I am glad the company took the risk on a new work, and that we attended.

On Valentine's Day, after I had completed my clinical duties, DH and I attended a presentation about the rest of medical school, taking board exams, and applying to/matching at a residency program. It's an anxiety-inducing revelation that drove my Peds TA and her husband straight to the liquor store last year. We went out to lunch instead, where I anchored my Hot Toddy with a black bean and onion ring burger as big as my face. I promise I'm smiling behind all that. Aren't I?

This year, we did all the expected things to celebrate Valentine's Day, albeit not on the same recognized day on the calendar. They were nice, out-of-the-ordinary things to do for each other, though I wonder if in a year they will mean as much as me cleaning out the cat box and taking out the trash and recycling on a freezing-cold night so DH didn't have to. Or as touched as I was when DH picked out a loaf of whole-grain German Dark Wheat bread with No High Fructose Corn Syrup and 6g Dietary Fiber, since my favorite grocery store closed and I ran out of the local organic bread I had been storing in the freezer. This time next year I will be finalizing my Match rank-order list for residency. I wonder what "love" will mean then?

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