Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Lovely, Un-Romantic Valentine's Day

My first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend was spent ass-deep in his ex-girlfriend’s stuff. 

We’d been dating for three months and I’d spent most of that time bugging him to clean up his place. To say that he had clutter is an understatement. We made a deal that the next free weekend we had available we’d spend it purging and organizing his apartment. It just so happened that the next free weekend fell on Valentine’s Day.

With thoughts of flowers and chocolate being presented like I’d seen in every commercial and after school special I’d watched since the age of five dancing through my head, I dove into the clutter with zeal. After this chore was done there’d be romance, more importantly, there’d be chocolate.

I’d grab items and say, “keep, toss, donate?” expecting that most items would end up in the keep category. To my surprise most of it was deemed a toss/donate and most of it had belonged to a woman. Girly books, photos, jewelry, tank tops, stockings, and even the beginnings of a fanfic novel all got tossed into bags. Eventually I stopped asking and just threw anything that had the look and feel of a female out. But I had trouble throwing these items away without getting absorbed in them first. Especially when I realized that I was sitting in a pile of stuff that had made up a person’s life.

I learned a lot about my first boyfriend’s ex that day. She was a figure skater, she read a lot of bad novels, she wore clothes I would never wear and she was bad at spelling. Looking at these personal objects and piecing a dossier of the ex together in my mind was more revealing than hearing about her from other people and I recognized that we were nothing alike. My boyfriend explained that his ex had broken up with him suddenly and left almost as quickly. The breakup was premeditated, but she didn’t bother to pack up properly and he had never bothered to go through their place and throw her things away, until now, until meeting me.  

Two days and 40 garbage bags later, his place was finally organized and no trace of the ex was left. What was left was a greater understanding of each other. I knew more about my new boyfriend and his past, he knew more about me and we made a promise to always be honest with each other and not let clutter (mental or emotional) build up between us.  He never did buy me flowers or chocolate, and I discovered he isn’t the romantic type and doesn’t like holidays, but in the end I didn’t mind.

It’s been over four years now and he’s still my boyfriend, my first and my last. We’re still always honest with each other. I love him, not because he sweeps me off my feet on Valentine’s Day like I see in many commercials and after school specials, but because he treats me like a queen all the other days of the year. And when I say we have to clean the apartment and take out the clutter, he hops to it and takes care of business. 

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