In the last three weeks, I’ve ingested enough clementines to ensure I won’t ever be at risk for scurvy. Every morning, instead of eating some fat free vanilla yogurt enhanced with two teaspoons of wheat germ, I peel and eat three clementines. I dig my left thumb into the top and tug a piece loose before freeing the entire citrus orb from the protective shell. I love the sweet burst that awakens my taste buds, splashing across my tongue before sliding down my throat. But man oh man do I hate the fact that my left thumb is permanently tinted orange. If I keep this up I’ll be an Oompa Loompa by March.
There are only a few television stations I peruse when I’m hunting for a distraction. I click between HGTV, Bravo, E!, CNN, Headline News and VH-1. If I’ve been out of the loop, I usually settle on Headline News for one full rotation of the latest stories. I love their quick format of relaying the news because it’s both efficient and entertaining. But man do I hate when I get distracted by a bottle of wine or a pile of mail only to realize I’ve been listening to that arrogant fuckwit Glenn Beck. His baseless arguments and childish antics make my skin crawl and my head hurt.
On a perfect Sunday, I exercise, shower and then head out to fetch brunch and the New York Times. Okay, perfecter would be sharing all of this, including the shower, with someone I adore. Anyway, as soon as I settle in at the table, orange juice to my right and napkin on my lap, I immediately yank the Style section free and get down to business. Through the course of the meal I flip between the rest of the newspaper, always ending with the Op-Eds. I love to soak in the brief brilliance shared by eloquent writers like Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd. Sometimes if it’s rainy or cold or if I’m lazy or sick, I tweak the perfect Sunday. Instead of going out, I crawl onto my sofa with a bowl of cereal and my laptop, alternating spoonfuls of sustenance with online Times browsing. It’s second best to an all time love. But man do I hate the higher ups at the magazine who for a stretch locked the online opinions behind silly fees. Because by charging a toll too few would pay, they all but destroyed the purpose and value of the Op-Ed section.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’ve always dismissed it as unimportant; a holiday created by retailers to help offset the downslide that follows the Christmas boom. Men and women scurry around to find a generic gift to express their affection simply because Hallmark dictates such. But as much as I hate the superficiality of this force fed sentiment of love, I absolutely adore receiving things on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is because I shoo away the gesture? Perhaps because I always expect nothing? Regardless of the reason, I’m certain my therapist would have an orgasm analyzing this inner conflict. Anyway, Allison sent me a card earlier this week and I immediately propped it up on my desk for all my coworkers to see. And last year, last year was the best Valentine’s Day ever. At half past six someone tried the front door of the office. I shuffled to the window and peered out to see a delivery man holding a vase of flowers. I released the lock and stepped outside.
“Glad you’re still here,” he said with a sigh as he handed over the clipboard for my signature.
“Nowhere else I needed to be,” I admitted as I scribbled my name across the bottom.
“Enjoy ’em, Paige.”
“Wait, huh? These are for me?”
“Yeah, someone loves you,” he said with a wink as he exchanged the vase for the clipboard.
I went back into the office, locked the door and set the vase down on my desk. I pulled back on the cellophane, located the card and sat down to read the message. It wasn’t a sweet note from a boy I’d recently started dating. It wasn’t a warm sentiment of love from my dad or Leslie or some other obvious person. No, it was a note from a soldier in Iraq. Around six months earlier I had adopted him, sending mail and packages to help the days pass faster. Somehow in between dodging bullets and saving lives, he found the time to send me flowers. As I buried my nose within the blossoms and beamed a smile so big my cheeks hurt, I realized I love this holiday after all. Not for the expected but the unexpected.