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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

Valentine's Day has never really been a day I go out of my way to celebrate. Every time Chris and I would make an attempt at doing something special for Valentine's Day, we'd end up disappointed and annoyed. Planned romance is canned romance and we discovered very quickly that we were so much better at impromptu romance. I didn't really know how to approach Valentine's Day with a new lover. The first year Micheal and I were together, I got him a card. He made us reservations at Buca Di Beppo and we ended up sitting at a small cafe style table wedged between similar tables, all containing teenage couples. It was sort of romantic. At was cute to watch the youngsters. One couple tried to order cocktails and got really indignant about being denied with their fake IDs. Any way, after that, we didn't really mention Valentine's Day again.  

Last week Michael looked at me with a hang dogged expression and asked if we were doing anything for Valentine's Day. He looked all sad and disappointed with my response of "I hadn't made any plans" and decided we'd go out for dinner on Friday. I met him at Jazz for happy hour (they have $1 oysters at happy hour) and after placing our order I looked at him, reminded him of Valentine's Days past and then asked "why the sudden interest in doing something for Valentine's Day?" He shrugged and mumbled something that sounded like "can't a guy be romantic?" Michael is still learning that a guy can totally be romantic and that being romantic is not dependent on a particular day. I shrugged my shoulders and said that I was just wondering why he had a sudden interest in Valentine's Day and then I let it go. 

Of course, I know why he had a sudden interest in romance. We haven't been all that lovey dovey lately. Work and illnesses has turned us into two people who just happen to coexist in the same house. Michael is working on his masters and this with his work responsibilities have been all consuming. Then you add in the week he was sick, followed up with the next week where I was sick and you've got a recipe for how to become just acquaintances. We also share a wariness of February in general. His (ex)wife left him right around the same time my husband died. I tend to crawl inside myself this time of year while he gets anxious. Cupid and hearts and Russell Stover's are things we are least likely to worry about in February.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, warm day and after driving out to the DMV to tag the trailer, we came home and traded the car for our scooters to finish running our errands. We loaded the last of our grocery purchases into our scooters and Michael said he needed to go to the hardware store. He suggested that I go on home and he'd meet there. Since I was balancing a not so cheap bottle of whiskey (a gift for a party we were attending that evening) on the floor space between my feet, I agreed to just meet him at the house.  He wasn't all that far behind me. I had just turned my scooter around in the garage when he pulled up in the drive. "What did you need at the hardware store?" I asked him while he tugged his helmet off. "Nothing important." He moved on, started pulling groceries out of his scooter trunk. "We need to leave the house a little early before the party. There's a detour I want us to make, something I want to show you." I eyed him with suspicion and started asking questions but he shut them all down. 

Later that evening, we headed out again on our scooters and I followed Michael as he took us to Minor Park and the Old Red Bridge. The Old Red Bridge is part of the Sante Fe Trail and is the third red bridge. It's the bridge that Michael remembers riding on in his youth. It's been replaced by a fancy new bridge, but this old one is still in use as part of a walking trail. They light the bridge up on Friday and Saturday evening in February so people can put locks on the bridge, a Valentine's thing. They even had the bridge decorated with dangling hearts and carnations. As we got closer to the bridge, I saw the locks and then I knew why Michael had made a stop at the hardware store. I looked at him and said "did you get us a lock?!" He had. He didn't have it engraved or anything. It was just a lock, but it was our lock. We picked a spot on the bridge to place our lock and locked it in. Then we each took a key and tossed it into the river. 

We started walking back to our scooters when Michael stopped at the end of the bridge and said "You wanna kiss me on the Old Red Bridge." I looked up at him and said "Yes. Yes, I do."