February 14, 2002
Daily Valentine

It happens a couple of times a week now, usually when I'm least expecting it.  I'll walk into the bathroom to pluck something or pop something or plaster something thick and sticky all over my T-Zone, and there, out of nowhere, will be half a dozen pairs of clean soggy just be thankful he doesn't wash my bras pantyhose dripping from the shower curtain rod.

It always comes as a surprise. 

*I* certainly didn't hang them there. When I get home from work in the evenings, I rip my pantyhose off quicker than you can say Invisible Reinforced Toe, wad them up and toss them onto the floor behind the bathroom door or under the computer desk or next to the guitar stand, promptly forgetting all about them. In the pre-David days of TicTac and The Tree House, I usually allowed "used" pantyhose to pile up until I ran out of clean stockings altogether. Then I would either do a panicky 7 a.m. dunk-and-blow-dry, or else I would go out and buy brand-new.

(Or -- more likely -- I would wear PANTS until payday.)

But all of that has changed. Once or twice a week, David goes around the apartment and quietly scoops up all of the crusty, knotted No-Nonsense and Hanes Ultra Sheer, rinses them in the bathroom sink with cold water and a little Woolite and hangs them up to drip-dry. When I asked him once -- feeling more than slightly embarrassed -- why he was doing this, he replied, "I like to do things for you."

Even after three and a half years, I'm still not accustomed to this sort of four-star treatment.

Every morning for the past three years, give or take the occasional flu day/hooky day/"family emergency" day, David has driven me to work. At first this was out of necessity: I was brand-new to the area, I was just starting a new job,  I didn't know my way around yet, etc. etc. etc.  My Washington State Drivers License had lapsed, shortly after I moved to California, and at that point we hadn't gotten around to getting it renewed.  Even after I began to feel more comfortable and familiar with the East Bay, and with riding the #51 back and forth through the tube, we continued to commute together every morning. My office at The Totem Pole Company and his office at the newspaper were less than a mile away from each other, and it just made good economic sense to car pool. Plus those ten minutes together in the Subaru every morning were our special time to chat and listen to not that there's anything wrong with roses, mind you ...music and begin our work day on a note of intimacy and connection.

Now that I'm working in the 'dark and spooky' Oakland Coliseum area, however, our shared commute has suddenly become a lot longer ... and a LOT more complicated. 

"I'm sorry about this," I say to him every morning, as we sit wedged in the middle of rush hour traffic. 

"Hey," he cheerfully replies every morning. "What could be better than this? I get to spend twenty extra minutes alone with my wife every morning."

Even after three and a half years, part of me is still waiting for him to complain about the commute.  Or to demand three and a half years' worth of gas money.

At night when we're laying in bed, David will sometimes reach over and wordlessly take my hand. Beginning with the center of my palm and gradually working his way outwards, he will give me a slow, strong, deliberately measured hand massage. It manages to be both amazingly erotic  --  and amazingly comforting, like a tantric finger-hug  --  at the same time. As he squeezes each finger individually, starting at the base and moving up across the knuckles and all the way to the fingertip, applying a little bit of extra pressure to the nerve-intensive nail bed, I feel something inside my soul begin to loosen up and let go.

"Where did you learn to do this?" I gasp, when he's finished. And then I give him my other hand.

Even after three and a half years, the tenderness i love you too, honey of this simple act still reduces me to a pile of quivering goo, every time.

Valentine's Day is all well and good. Valentine's Day is great, as a matter of fact: it's my third-favorite holiday, right after Mothers Day and National SecraTerri's Day. I strongly believe in the practice of setting aside special days to remember the people we care about. 

I'm certain that the nice folks at City Bloom Full Service Florist will agree with me. 

But the spontaneous demonstrations of love David shows me every day  --  these little kindnesses, like daily Valentines  --  mean more to me than all of the long-stemmed roses and gooey Hallmark cards in the world, put together.

I'm a lucky woman. And I've got the clean pantyhose to prove it.

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