I’m staring at the calendar stuck to my fridge, wondering where the time went. It wasn’t that long ago that I was braving long lines and rowdy crowds in the quest for the ultimate Christmas gift. Now it’s February, and I’m looking at a photo of red roses. In four days, millions of women will receive cards, flowers, candy, jewelry—and the super-lucky ones, the almighty engagement ring. As for me, I’ll spend the day lying to myself. A lot. I’ll tell myself, “It’s just another day, it’s all about the money, I’m not letting someone dictate who I should love and when.” And my favorite,“It’s a day for fools.”If you haven’t already surmised, I’m dreading Valentine’s Day.
When I graduated from college, my eight-year plan looked like this:
1) Find the perfect man, get happily married (So far, no such luck).
2) Have at least two rug rats (Likewise, considering the miserable failure of item 1).
I remove the cap from the black Sharpie I’m holding in my death grip and place a large X on today’s date—Saturday, February 10th. I scan the previous forty X marks and replace the cap on the pen; I don’t want it to dry up like my love life. I have nine months before I turn the big three-oh, and I’m determined, by any means necessary, to be married before November 10th.
“Cass, what are you doing?”
My cousin’s high-pitched voice startles me. I tense hearing the sound of her footfalls along the hardwood floor as she makes her way from the living room to the kitchen. I take a moment and calmly say, “Nothing.”
She shakes her head, swishing her dreadlocks then snatches the Sharpie out of my hand. “You and that calendar. I don’t know why you put so much pressure on yourself. Why plan everything? Just let it happen.”
Yeah, that’s good advice. She just let it happen, and now she’s desperate to get out of a marriage to a guy with serious weight issues. It’s not entirely her fault. David is what she calls a “closet fatty.” When he and Cyn met he’d lost one hundred pounds. He managed to keep all his “before” photos out of sight until after the shotgun wedding. During the pregnancy they both gained a ton of weight. David got so big that he lost all interest in going out, having sex, and bathing—not necessarily in that order. On the upside, he’s a good guy and a great dad.
I take the Sharpie from her and toss it onto the island in my recently remodeled kitchen. “I am going to let it happen.”
With hands planted on her hips she asks, “How are you gonna let it happen when you’ve boxed yourself into a nine-month deadline? What if you don’t find ‘The One’ by then?”
“A lot can happen in a day—in a minute. I could walk out the front door and the man of my dreams could be standing on my lawn.”
She looks at me, hisses, and flounces out of the kitchen. Curious, I follow her into the living room. She draws the curtains back from the picture window, points, and says, “The only thing I see on your lawn is a pile of dog mess.”