I posted this sweet story from the Tampa Bay Times yesterday to Twitter and Facebook. It's about an 11-year-old boy's search for the perfect Valentine for his first girlfriend. I asked people to share their first Valentine's gifts from someone other than their parents or classmates.
No one played along.
I know Valentine's Day isn't for everyone, but this story struck me, especially this line: "They don't make Valentines about holding hands." Love can get complicated and adults get cynical, but those first tries at love children make are innocent and sweet and bumbling and earnest.
That story made me remember the first gift I received from a boy, which, now I think about it, might have been a Christmas gift, not a Valentine. Either way, the sentiment was the same. Ryan was my first boyfriend, though I think we only held hands once. We "went out," going nowhere of course, in third and fourth grade, but after we "broke up" in fifth grade, we remained friends. Ryan was my best friend all through school, the person who helped me survive the mean girls of junior high and called me on my own teenaged bullshit. When we were 11ish, he gave me a white, ceramic, heart-shaped trinket box with a blue-eyed, long-haired cat painted on the lid. The box fell off a shelf not long after I got it, but I saved the lid for years. Somewhere in moving during the college years, the heart-shaped cat was lost and I hadn't thought about it in years, but that story reminded me of it and how I felt when I opened it: a little disappointed because even as an 11-year-old, schmaltzy cats and ceramic hearts weren't really my thing (I was more of a unicorn girl), but also so special because someone had taken the time to pick out a gift just for me.
Do you remember your first Valentine?