I've loved you all. Friends and boyfriends, lovers and perfect strangers. I've loved you for a minute, or an hour, or days or months or years. I think of you occasionally or often, and I say your name fondly, unless I don't quite recall it, or never even knew it. But I've loved you, none the less. Each one of you has shone your light on the bright side of my life, and so, on this Valentine's Day, I want to thank you and tell you when I knew love was here to stay, at least for the blink of an eye.
I knew I loved you that day in June when you casually rested your hand on my knee on the drive out to Herring Cove beach. I knew I loved you when we were crossing 5th Avenue and you put your hand protectively at the small of my back, to usher me safely through traffic. I knew I loved you the first time I heard you play your viola. I knew I loved you when you took my hand and led me through the dark woods, because the moon had been overrun by clouds and I couldn't see well enough to find my own way. I knew I loved you in first grade when you were the Professor and I was Ginger during our game of "Gilligan's Island" at recess. I knew I loved you when you were in the mood for Indian and I was in the mood for sushi, and....we went out for sushi. I knew I loved you that Harvard-Yale weekend when you did the propeller dance to "The Tide is High" at that Lampoon party. I knew I loved you when I found myself wondering how you'd ever get out of that carbonite.
I knew it was true love when you pulled me back as we walked down by City Hall one night, because you saw a rat scamper across the sidewalk ahead of us. I knew I loved you when we were fifteen and you nervously grabbed my hand in the European Paintings section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I knew I loved you when I saw you that day on the bus and you looked so much like a young Denzel Washington I had to do a double take. I knew I loved you when I saw you looked so handsome in your uniform. I knew I loved you when you shared your umbrella with me, all the way down to 41st Street, which was out of your way. I knew our love was meant to be the moment I heard Scully say, "Agent Mulder believes we are not alone". I knew I loved you in summer camp when you asked me to dance, despite my unfortunate attempt at curling my hair.
I knew I loved you the second time you won the World Series. It was definitely love in San Francisco when you left the bar earlier than the rest of us, and when we got home we found you listening to Parliament while carpet-sweeping the rugs in your underwear. I knew I loved you when you took time out of your incredibly busy day to call me back and give me advice and information. I knew I loved you when you hung out the window to serenade the whole quad during what should have been a fire drill. My heart sang out with love when you gave me a 3-D postcard of parrots in a home-made red and gold macaroni shell frame for my 20th birthday. I knew I loved you when we cut school and spent the whole day hanging out in Central Park. I knew I loved you when the towers fell and I was frantic because you weren't answering your phone and I didn't know where you were, and I knew again when I finally reached you.
I knew I loved you the minute I first saw you, because you were the most beautiful boy I had ever seen, in all my eighteen long years. It was true love forever when I saw you playing with dry leaves in the yard, and my mother said, "We have to catch that kitten and bring him inside! He can't stay out there, it's going to get cold soon.". I knew it was love when I heard you say, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn". I loved you for sure when you got back out of the cab so you could kiss me one more time, in the middle of the night, in the middle of Flatbush Avenue. I knew I loved you that time down in Georgetown when you draped your arm around me like you'd known me for years, even though we'd met just days before.
I loved you most definitely when you offered me your seat on the subway the time I was wearing those really cute sling backs that were murder on my feet. I knew I loved you that snowy night in Old Montreal, with all the little white lights making the streets into a fairyland. I knew I loved you when we were crammed into the car with four other people but it felt like it was just the two of us. I knew I loved you when we would sit together in the back during those obligatory Classics receptions and break into the wine during the more boring lectures. I knew it had to be love when you spent three hours trying to fix my car and somehow made it even worse. It was love when you rescued me from that boring, crowded party in TribeCa and gave me a ride home, in the limo! I loved you truly when you said you had to be home by midnight, but stayed 'til 4 because we were all having so much fun. I knew it was love when you gave me your brand new Beastie Boys CD, just because I said I wanted to listen to it. I knew I loved you when I watched you finally tie the knot with your boyfriend of so many years. I knew I loved you when you told me you loved me. Thank you all for walking through my life, sometimes for a minute, sometimes forever, and making it that much more special.
I do like Valentine's Day. So much strife in the world, it's nice to have at least one day devoted to love. I don't have a Valentine this year, and I didn't have one last year either. I don't want a Valentine right now, it's not the right time for me. But maybe some day I'll have one again, and I can buy him an unabashedly sentimental card and maybe a nice little gift, and he can send me flowers and take me out for a romantic meal. And the world will be pink and white and red and full of roses and sappy love songs and date movies for a day, and that will be just fine. I'll love that.