Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe for Romance

Lavinia is back after a long absence and we are all glad to see her up and writing again. Lavinia and I are two different types of women, to be sure, but there is something beguiling about her posts, about luxuries that I know little about. She's unabashedly feminine. I'm a woman, but that fact has always come in somewhere after all the other adjectives in my life. I work at Tim's side. I'm a mom. Now I'm a student. I'm a writer. I guess that I have to say that out loud, although every time somebody refers to me as the writer, well, it makes me laugh a little. I'm the cook, and the house cleaner, and the world traveler who travels via the New York Times and blogs. I will tell you a secret. I have never spent a lot of money on myself. It's not only that we don't have it. It's also that I am ashamed to do it. I don't feel 'worth it'. I have never spent a lot of time on myself. It's not just that I don't have it, it's also that it makes me feel guilty about my vanity. My strengths have always been that I am a worker, and that I am smart. I have never spent a lot of time clucking over clothes, or longing for pieces of jewelry. I don't collect teddy bears or dolls. (I do have a pretty nice collection of rocks, and I collect bird figurines). I'm a woman, and I know it, but I've never felt especially feminine, and I've always wondered what that would be like. Sometimes I meet a woman who's confident and the very epitome of feminine, and I wonder what makes a woman that way, why I am not that way, if I could be that way.

Cancer has changed a lot of perceptions about myself. A cancer that appears in the most obvious 'woman parts' makes it kind of hard not to see yourself in a more womanly light. Although I know men who have had breast cancer, the overwhelming majority of us are women. I was encircled by women, supported by them, encouraged by them. As we shared our fears and our concerns and our feelings, I began to see myself in a different light. I discovered that I was one of them. Suddenly, I found that wearing dangly earrings and high heels was a great mood booster. It makes you feel differently about yourself. It makes others see you differently.

Yesterday, getting ready for church, I fussed with the scarf Bush Babe sent me a couple years back. I gave my hair a final approving touch up. My dangley earrings brushed against the sides of my neck as I turned my head to survey my make up. Like I said, cancer has changed me. I find myself spending more time on my appearance, and not feeling ashamed or guilty about it. I primp. I take the time on myself. Not huge amounts of it, because I still don't have it to spare, but I do spend more time on myself. I use scented soaps in the shower, and I have lotions for when I'm done. I spend more time fussing with my hair maybe because I'm so pleased to have hair to fuss with again. So something has changed, and even though I can't really express it, not well, I am a much more feminine woman. I am still all the other adjectives. I'm still what I was, but somehow being a woman is now coming up higher on the list of things that I am than it ever has before in my life. What does this all mean? Shoot. I don't know. I couldn't tell you. All I know is that I really like the way my husband looks at me when I am done, when I walk into the living room to shrug into my long red wool coat. I like his looking a lot.

My Valentine's Day was different than Lavinia's. Tim and I exchanged cards. He bought me a new pair of dangley earrings. (That after we had agreed not to exchange gifts. I had only bought him a package of marshmallow hearts. He loves chocolate covered marshmallows.) We went to church together, we worshiped together, and then we went downstairs to join everybody for soup and pie luncheon. I chattered with a bunch of women at the table as Tim and Rod talked about rentals. When we were done, we came home for a moment to get the dog out, and then headed out again, to drop off a valentine. To take scholarship information to my sister. We drove through the snow, big swirling flakes of it, and Tim and I talked easily and comfortably, sometimes holding hands. When we got home, the smell of chicken filled the air, and I fixed pasta to go with it, and garlic bread. We had a quiet supper and then sat on the couch together watching 'Camilla'. And then we headed to bed and lay talking in the dark until someone fell asleep first. I cannot tell you who that was, actually. It was a very nice day, and as recipes for romance go, I think that it is a good one.


A Novel Woman said...

That is a good way to spend Valentine's! My husband and I agreed not to do anything special either, and somehow ended up at a crowded Walmart on Sunday afternoon. We looked at each other, after bashing our way through the crowds to grab toilet paper on sale, shrugged and started laughing.

I collect little bird figurines too! My bookcase has a few scattered here and there. (And I too share a love of chocolate covered marshmallows. Remember witch's brooms? Mmmm.)

Bob said...

What a great day. We learn a lot as life goes by and all our experiences are our teachers. I remember how, when my mom died, my dad was so lost without her. And I remember thinking I had never thought of how much he valued the companionship he shared with her. But he really did.

And that taught me to be more appreciative and thankful for what I have (especially a wife and family) and to realize how fleeting it all is.

Our day was much like yours. I bought my wife some flowers on Sat. at the grocery store and she gave me a card. We watched the Olympics some and had dinner with our group from church last night.

Simple pleasures are priceless.

Anonymous said...

You spent Valentine's Day in a lovely way. I believe the best way to spend Valentine's Day is with the one you love in any way you can.

steviewren said...

It's nice to have someone to be with, someone you can depend on. I'm glad you had a nice day.

WhiteStone said...

Your Valentine's Day sounds lovely! I'm a bit like you, never feeling that I was a frilly feminine woman but never doubting that I was one! It's just that I prefer blue jeans to dresses, easy mascara to more complete makeup. But you know what! We went to the City Friday and DH bought me a new pair of gold hoop earrings and then I took myself over to the makeup counter and picked out a whole set of new makeup. I like it. Aw, heck. I NEED it. LOL

BUSH BABE said...

This made me feel all warm and fuzzy... and not just because you wore the scarf I sent! (Although that did make me grin big).

What is that saying? Out of every bad thing, something good will come... I am glad you discovered your feminine side in amongst the awfulness. And your V day sounds perfect!

quid said...

A lovely Valentines day. I'd love to be more of a "female of the feminine type"....too many years in corporate la la land, competing with men and smacking my head against the (glass) ceiling. (And too much love of football). I love your reincarnation as a somewhat...girly girl!


Anonymous said...

Sounds lovely :)

Anonymous said...

Debbie, you are a darling, dangly earrings or not!