The Black Box, a Valentine’s Day Story
I’m going to tell you a little Valentine’s Day story.
A long time ago, on a Valentine’s Day far far away I was presented with the most romantic gift I have ever received. I still have it.
Here is it.
Yes, it is a box. Inside the box…
…there are two pieces of tattered and frayed bits of black satin.
There was once a gift inside, a beautiful gift that I still have, but it is the box I cherish most.
This black box, this rough around the edges, slightly crushed black paper box with remnants of black satin inside, represents everything I have ever believed about love.
Love is unassuming.
Love is self-effacing.
Love is imperfect.
Love is nuanced.
And love thrives on simple gestures and humble heroic acts. Love needs no superfluous fanfare because love stands on its own.
And that is why I hold on to this simple black box. It is a reminder.
When we are young adults we see love through the lenses we were given as children. Everyone has a different view. My lenses were rosy, but truthful. I knew that love was essential to a happy life but I also knew that love followed few rules. I was okay with that. I approached my life knowing love would not be like a fairy tale.
Still, with a father who wrote love poetry and a mother who expressed her feelings through art I couldn’t escape being at least a little romantic. I didn’t need or want to be rescued by a Prince Charming, but I did secretly long for a hint of enchanted magic. I wasn’t the girl who planned her wedding long before she found her groom, but I did have some fantasies about the perfect proposal.
And so the black box.
When my husband proposed he did so on Valentine’s Day. The date wasn’t chosen with any romantic intention. At the time I was working long hours performing ten shows a week, rehearsing when I wasn’t on stage, and making a few extra bucks changing out sets for a repertory theater company. He was just as busy touring the Midwest in his own shows. Time together was scarce but that year we both were free on Valentine’s Day so there it was.
He had a plan and it was a lovely, if not slightly unconventional, evening.(Confession: we took a limousine through a fast food drive-through because we were running late and, really, we were just as dorky then as we are now).
When it came time for the proposal he was nervous and sweet and overcome and absolutely romantic. He was a Prince. He got down on one knee and pulled out a black paper box.
Inside the box there was a piece of black satin wrapped around a single rose that held a simple diamond ring because once when I was waxing poetic I mentioned something about proposals and black boxes with satin linings.
He couldn’t find a box like that, so he made one.
A simple gesture…of love.
I said yes.