I dropped off one child and picked up another.
I know he thinks being taller than me makes him grown, but he will always be a darling child to me.
He wants to drive. He's picking out music for the ride. Asking me if I have heard of this or that all while I am trying to read his style, wondering what kind of man he will be.
I ask why he is going to the mall, "to see a movie" he says.
We are a few blocks away and it hits me.
Its Valentine's Day.
I am heading out to meet a friend and am used to being alone, but he is heading to a date.
If I could have stopped time, I would have.
We made a failed attempt at getting flowers from a gas station.
I couldn't let him walk in without something for her.
Then he admitted he had a card.
"Can I see it?" I asked.
He handed over an unsealed envelope.
I recognized it was salvaged from a set of blank artist sketches in my mother's stationary.
The picture on the front was of a boy fishing.
This is what I know was true. This kid, whom I watched grow up, had exactly twenty-six dollars to his name, he was an hour late to his first Valentine's Day date cause no one could give him a ride, he had no gift, and he was still smiling and kind without a hair standing up in worry.
I opened the card wishing I had anything to give him to make it up to this girl for having to wait for him. How could he choose a card with a boy fishing on it?
In his handwriting (think about it, can you recognize anyone's handwriting anymore? I love my nephew and still this was the first I had seen his adult handwriting) he neatly and simply said;
"I can't believe I caught you! Happy Valentines Day. Love, Pat."
I was thrilled. Laughing I kissed his cheek and pushed him from the car. When he ran inside I turned the corner then put the car in park. I tapped the tears from my eyes and drove to dinner.
I remember waiting for hours for Travis to find a ride so we could walk around the mall broke.
I was realizing how everyone told us we didn't know what love was. We were too young to get it. I thought then, and know now - they were wrong.
When we couldn't give gifts we had to actually tell each other how we felt. We couldn't afford diversions and had to spend time together.
I honestly don't know if I'll ever meet anyone as interesting as I did when I was a teenager. The love notes, the handmade gifts, the stolen sweatshirts.
I was spoiled with the right attention and now my standards are unusually high.
Never forget what you learned at sixteen.