DATE: 12/12/2003 08:49:00 AM
Happiness Comes in on Tiptoe
I have been remiss in not mentioning that this Dec. 6 was my fourth anniversary with Stephen.
Earlier last week, Steve had called to tell me that he had not one, but two, gigs elsewhere in the state on the 5th and 6th, which meant that our anniversary plans were going to be spotty at best. I was mad at first (I have clamored for at least two of the four years for a weekend getaway to a bed and breakfast somewhere, but this, of course, would involve either of us having even close to that kind of money or free time away from work), but then I managed to suck it up, since it's been my constant nagging at Steve to work more that has caused him to take on more jobs. If I wanted him to work, I couldn't exactly dictate when. Even if it was our anniversary.
But I was disappointed. That's just the truth.
So, in an effort to distract myself into a more pleasant frame of mind on Friday, which was, to my knowledge, going to be Steve-less, I made plans for a Girls' Night with Kellie and Michele. By the time Friday actually rolled around I was genuinely looking forward to it.
We weren't able to reach Michele right away, and I decided that I wanted to go to Things Remembered at whatever mall was handiest to buy Steve the present I had planned--some nice Cross pens engraved with his monogram. I wanted to get him a romantic gift--the equivalent of him buying me jewelry, and that was the best thing I could think of. Kellie and I went over to the "Quare One Mall" in beautiful, scenic Saugus, where I found the pens, placed my order, and left while they did the engraving, pleased with myself.
There's another significance to Cross pens for me. My father and grandfather each have a set. They're sleek, silver, and come in sets of one pen and one pencil. Their design has changed little between the models my father owns, and the models I bought for Steve. They were nice pens, sure, and Steve can hopefully use the pencil to write his music, and, of course, there was the romantic-gift element, but they were also my way of saying to Steve: you measure up to the first men in my life. You are counted among the powerful examples of the men I have admired and loved in my family. You're part of my family, now, too. Saying that was important to me.
There was a bit of a wait, though, for the engraving, and so Kellie and I wandered the mall. We went to Hallmark, where I picked up some cards for Steve (cards plural because one, as per tradition, was silly and one was mushy). Then, suddenly and inexplicably, Kellie was drawn magnetically to the Build-a-Bear Workshop.
You know this store. It has been featured on many episodes of A Baby Story on TLC. You can pick out a shriveled bear skin, have someone stuff it for you (a process that involves a large machine, a pipe, the bear skin's back opening, and is truly a vile sight), and then dress it up at the "Bear Boutique" where they sell any number of ridiculous bear-sized items, ranging from fairy princess dresses to silk undies to roller skates. For bears. Teddy bears. It's stores like this that tend to make me reflect guiltily on the number of Third World nations we could be sending the money we spend on bear accessories to. But we ventured in nonetheless.
At first we were just browsing, but then Kellie hit on an idea: let's build a bear! I have to confess with deep chagrin that we did it. We were filling out our bear's Birth Certificate (Rwandans in the audience, forgive me) when Kellie's phone rang. It was Steve.
Presuming that he was calling to say hello from whichever gig he was doing at the moment, I said excitedly into the phone, "Hon, you will NEVER guess where we are and what we're doing."
Silence for a moment. "Oh, yeah?" Steve said.
"Yeah!" I proceeded to tell him in gratuitous detail all about where we were and what we were doing. He listened with his usual infinite patience, and then said, "Well, guess where I am."
"Um...your gig?" I said stupidly.
Feeling the consummate asshole, I raced back to Things Remembered, where I grabbed my order and, borrowing the salesperson's pen, hurriedly signed my cards. The mushy one? Yeah. Not anniversary. Birthday card. Well, crapioca. I dumped Kellie fairly unceremoniously, I must admit, at her house, and sped home.
Once there, Steve laughed kindly at my accidental birthday card, exclaimed over the pens, gave me a book on Jacqueline Du Pre and Tori Amos' latest release, Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection, and the most exquisite, perfect card I've ever received. I would love to embroider my story with its text, but I'm selfish, and I'm going to save it all for myself.
Steve explained to me that he'd been able to surprise me because the vicious Nor'easter bearing down on the area had caused his gigs to be cancelled. Once he knew that his jobs had fallen through, he'd hightailed it up to Chelmsford to be with me. "I realized that some things are just more important," he said. I melted.
We had a lovely, quiet dinner at Bertucci's and then took a drive around town. As we pulled back into my house the first delicate flakes of snow were falling.
The next day, the weather was savage. There wouldn't have been any chance of Steve and me seeing one another last weekend at all if he hadn't come up when he had. As it was, we spent a wonderful day Saturday snowed in in our pajamas, enjoying each other's company.
Looking out at the blizzard, Steve smiled and said, "Sometimes things just work out."