Carli and I celebrated Valentine’s Day much like so many other couples. Carli gave me a lovely card and a gift certificate for a massage. We went to the jewelry store to pick up the little paw pendant I ordered for Carli. We picked up a pizza and a salad on the way home and spent the evening enjoying being together.
But my question is what is so special about the love we celebrate on this one day of the year? Is it special because we buy cards and flowers? Cards and flowers are sold other days of the year, right? What about the every day things we do to express our love to each other that makes our lives beautiful? What about the cups of coffee that I prepare for the two of us every day at 4:45am? Do we do enough to acknowledge and celebrate every day love, or do we rely on this one day to pick up the slack for the rest of the year?
When Carli came out to me as transgender the emotions I experienced were so intense and complex they are difficult to describe. Guilt, fear, anger, grief, wonder, awe, joy, love, all taking their turn. Some of the emotions I felt early on have subsided, replaced with others that are just as powerful. The one constant, the one unwavering, exponentially increasing, unquestionable emotion that clings to my very soul is love. Love every day.
Being married to a trans woman certainly provides a slew of every day opportunities to love each other that other couples may not experience. Reminding Carli to do the exercises her speech therapist gave her, and pointing out when I hear a feminine voice on the other end of the phone line when we talk. Understanding that sometimes a 50 year old trans woman just needs to cry at a commercial that she wouldn’t have batted an eye at a few years ago. Being patient when your wife isn’t quite ready to take the 29 year old wedding picture off the wall just yet. Answering the question “does this look okay” for the 10th time before we head out the door for dinner. Okay, so that one probably happens to plenty of married couples, trans or not!
What about the love we share with others we are not married to; our children, coworkers, neighbors? The initial reaction from one of our sons was to be protective of Carli, and of me, wondering how he could possibly help keep us safe in a world that is often openly hostile to transgender people. As I’ve said here before, coworkers have been accepting and caring, asking questions so they may educate themselves on how to support Carli. Neighbors have gone out of their way to express their acceptance and support of Carli, inviting us to share in community and church events. Aren’t all of these every day gestures borne of love? Love not only for Carli and I but for humanity.
Yes, we do celebrate Valentine’s Day in the good old fashioned American way. We spend money on things we could get for each other literally every other day of the year. Every other day of the year, days that are filled with little bits of love that we need to pay attention to, nurture, and acknowledge as wildly important to our well-being. Carli meeting me in the kitchen with a glass of bourbon after a day that didn’t go quite as I planned. Helping Carli pick out the best blouse to wear with that particular pair of jeans. Carli doing the dishes every day. Watching Carli snuggle a puppy; a puppy with big brown eyes who helped ease the pain of losing a beloved 16 year old lab mutt. Making coffee at 4:45am. Love definitely happens every day.