The Day I was the Best Girlfriend Ever

Ten years ago today, I was the Best Girlfriend Ever.

Really, it’s true.  I said so.  Out loud.  To my mom.

See, I’d just come out of a traumatic relationship.  Not a romantic one.  A work one.  On March 18, 2004, I walked away from my job.  Another thing to cross off of my Brave Things I’ve Done list.

So come March 19, 2004, I woke up feeling like a new woman, enjoying her first Day Off in a long time.  I was excited to do whatever I wanted and answer to absolutely nobody.

Then Boyfriend called.  Would I drive out to see him in Riverside?  To watch basketball – it being the middle of March Madness and all.  Could I, would I, be the one to drive to him for a change?  Sigh.  Yes.  Yes I will, because I love you and I’m your Girlfriend and I have a Day Off and blah blah blah.

So, being the Best Girlfriend Ever, I readjusted my day, told my To Do List to wait, turned off Daytime TV, and called my mom to tell her how amazing I was.  How I was so flexible and selfless and was earning girlfriend gold stars and what-not.  How she didn’t snicker at me, I’ll never know.  Mom-powers are amazing and mysterious.

When I got to Boyfriend’s house, he came out to greet me and suggested a brief walk around campus (where he worked, not went to school – no robbing the cradle here).  He then casually suggested we take a drive up to Big Bear, my hometown in the mountains, an hour-ish away.  We’ve never before nor never since “just decided to take a drive to Big Bear.”  It’s always a planned thing.  But I was turning over a new leaf.  Flexibility.  And also, think of my alternative:  watching basketball.  Sure, why not? I said, only briefly reminding him that it was the middle of March Madness.  More girlfriend-gold-stars after all.  If texting had been a thing back then, my mom would have been getting a play-by-play oh my awesome-ness.

With each mile we drove up the mountain, I repeatedly thought this is so weird that we’re just taking a random trip to Big Bear.  But instead of thinking – even ONCE – about it in a suspicious manner, it only furthered my own sense of girlfriend-greatness.

A handful of hours after I graciously swept my day aside in favor of time with my Beau, we pulled into a parking lot near the lake “to take a walk.”  Still not suspicious.  Seriously?  Seriously.

Until I saw the candles.  Forming a path to the lakeshore.

And heard Boyfriend’s breathing change.

I caught my own breath as I realized this was IT.

He led me down the candle-lit path pre-set by his little engagement elves, back down to the lakeshore where years before he had turned me away, making today the day he’d reclaim that territory and ask me to say yes to forever.

Years before, I had prayed just one prayer about the day I might be asked to marry someone.  Please God, just let me KNOW the answer, whether it’s yes or no, I want it to be clear.  No doubt, no hesitation.  I simply couldn’t fathom being stuck somewhere in the middle and answering with an Uhhhh, ummmm, welllll.

And there on that fateful day, a resounding Yes! came out of my mouth as naturally as the air I breathe.

Sometimes Jason will whisper in my ear, Thanks for saying yes, and I always answer back, Thanks for asking.  I’ve never lost sight of just how amazing it is to be asked.

Somewhere in the darkness a ring was slipped on my finger – the same one that rests there today.

A little known-fact is that Boyfriend and I didn’t kiss, not even when Boyfriend became Fiancée.  A fact that shocked even my mother.  I’m pretty sure she said something about owing a guy a kiss if he gives you a diamond ring.  But it’s just something we decided to save for our wedding day.  Not in any holier-than-thou way, but more because we knew our triggers and didn’t need to add another one.  So I got a diamond but Boyfriend-turned-Fiancee didn’t get a kiss.  Yet.

When it all caught up with me, I felt a teeny bit chagrined about the self-applause I’d given myself all day.  Way to go, Brooke, you are sooooo selfless.  You were willing to clear your schedule and be available for a proposal.  Bravo.

When we then made our way to my family’s house for a pre-orchestrated celebration party, my mom’s grin said it all.

Wow, did I really just brag to you all day about what an awesome girlfriend I am?  Yes.

And you knew the whole time that he’d be proposing and not watching basketball?  Yes.

It’s a good thing that I was the Best Girlfriend Ever that day, since it was my last day as a girlfriend.

Engagement Pic

(Also, we were just baaaabies!)

My Valentine’s Day Tip

Step one:  Locate a florist

Step two:  Pick up a phone

Step three: Do not order flowers.  Repeat:  do not order flowers. 

Step four:  Instead, ask if they need delivery drivers. 

Step five:  Show up valentine’s morning – whether solo, with a friend, or your valentine – ready to fill your car with the scent of long-stemmed roses, daisies and forget me nots.

Step six:  Enjoy guessing people’s stories based on the type of flowers and their reaction to receiving them. 

Step seven:  Return home with cash in your pocket and a smile in your heart.  

Delivering flowers is my favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day.  I’ve signed up as a delivery driver three or four different years.  196 million roses are delivered on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, one hundred and ninety-six million.   Whether you’re for or against the whole Valentine’s Day thing, that’s a whole lotta delivered roses.

I first jumped in on the action over a decade ago, back when I drove a shiny black truck and had to rely on a Thomas Guide to get me to the next address for delivery.  Yes, a THOMAS GUIDE, people.  As in, a map on PAPER – with no shiny blue dot to tell me where I was or a red one to tell me where I wanted to end up.  I can’t even explain how crazy lost I got in Mission Viejo.  If I had to use a Thomas Guide today, I’d probably end up in Denver before I could find Laguna Niguel.

And I still can’t believe how many vases of long-stemmed roses I crammed into the cab of my truck.  Confession:  someone somewhere received 11 long-stemmed roses that day, because one snapped off in transport and I umm, hid it among the others.  I know, I KNOW.

When I got married, I told Jason about this little trick and so instead of dropping a lot of cash on buying each other Valentine’s gifts, we turned it into a day to make cash together.  I mean, a whole day together making money by delivering beautiful gifts that other people paid for and a chance to see the first smile of surprise when someone realizes “you’re here to deliver those to me?”  Win!  

So, whether single or married or somewhere in between, my little Valentine’s Day tip is that you can have just as much – or maybe even more! – fun giving as receiving.  Seriously, so. much. fun.

This year, we will be up in San Francisco for a little getaway, but you better believe I’ll have my eye out for people delivering flowers, smiling at the memories they’re making for themselves.  Even if it involves a snapped rose or two.

Magic

I can still see the bubbles – I can still feel them on my cheeks.  I can hear the splashing – I can feel my two year old brother squirting me with his bath toys.  I can hear the sound of my own giggle as I tried to convince my mom to tell me – “Just tell me!  Tell me!  Plllllease tell me!”

And then Mom told me.  Dad had gone to visit Santa.  To give him my wish-list.  Magic.

IMG_1724

I imagined him.  If he was visiting Santa, that meant he’d be in the snow.  Would he take a sleigh?  How did he know where to find Santa?  And then I knew:  Because magic.

I imagined Santa.  Would his white beard glisten as he laughed?  What did he wear when he wasn’t in his holiday suit?  Where did he keep his reindeer?  And what did they eat?  And then I knew:  Magic.

I can’t remember anything about my wish list.  I’m sure it was standard fare for a four-year old.  Probably something about a doll or a dress.  Maybe my favorite show, which was probably a toss up between Smurfs and He-Man.  But see, the list wasn’t the magic part.

My Dad knew Santa.  And Santa lived close.  In our mountains – my mountains.  From that moment on I was officially on “Santa watch” every time we roamed up to our local mountains.  Even in the summer.  Actually, especially in the summer, because that’s when he’d least expect me to find him.  I knew exactly what I was looking for, too.  He had to live somewhere with a barn so his reindeer could be hidden away out of sight, and I figured during the summer months Santa probably sported a short-sleeve red plaid shirt.  And cropped his beard.  And drove a jeep.  I was a very logical four-year-old.

It wasn’t long before my logical self grew out of Santa and discovered that “Dad taking him my wish list” was my Mom’s creative way of saying that Dad had gone Christmas shopping, and that the nights I’d heard jingle bells on the roof were my Dad stomping around, not Jolly Old St. Nick.  But it didn’t change the magic for me.  In fact, it increased it.  I mean, my Dad got up on our roof and walked around with jingle bells.  Now THAT’S some magic.

And I never experienced a traumatic transition from Christmas being about Santa to it being about Baby Jesus.  Smooth as butter for this young mind to learn about “the real Old St. Nick” and the Jesus he worshiped.  Because see, Santa wasn’t the magic part to me.  My Mom and Dad were the magic part.  Guys, my Dad KNEW SANTA.  Magic.  My Mom fed my imagination.  Magic.  Jingle Bells on a rooftop were even more magical knowing they belonged to my Dad instead of some guy with a white beard.

And now, thirty years after that little girl’s bath-time, with the bubbles and the splashing and the giggles all on-call for my wistful moments, my eyes still twinkle at the thought of my Mom and Dad knowing magic.  In fact, thirty years later, I need to remember that magic.  I became a really serious kid as I became a responsible big sister, and I didn’t exactly choose a magic-filled career.  But there are moments and places that capture it for me and take me right back to that four-year-old self.  Right back to a place where anything can happen, where the world is wide and full and your Dad knows Santa.  Disneyland has my number – they get me every time when they launch faux-snow right after the Christmas-melody of fireworks.  My favorite littles get me when they wrap their arms around my neck and whisper “I wuv you.”  My husband gets me every time he grabs my soap-covered hands and spins me for a dance in our kitchen.  New horizons get me.  The deep ocean gets me.  Stories of redemption get me.  In those moments, magic grabs me and shakes me and says “This life is full of me!  Look around and see me – I’m everywhere!”  And I know it’s true – magic fills this place we call home.  But it’s not the magic of flying reindeer or a bowl full of jelly.  It’s the magic of the people that help us imagine.  That open our hearts and our minds to what could be.  To create with what can’t be seen.

Magic is waiting – it’s waiting for me to close my eyes and go back to a bubble-filled bath time.  And it’s waiting for me to open my eyes and see what’s right in front of me.  If we’re wiling to look, we’ll find it behind and ahead and inside.  And maybe, just maybe, we’ll even be lucky enough to bring Magic to someone else’s story, whether it’s by strapping jingle bells on our boots or opening their heart to a new, quiet truth.  But he

re’s the thing about Magic: It can’t be sold but it can be treasured.  It can’t be buried but it can be lost.  It can’t be bought but it can be created.  You can’t taste it or see it or hold it – you have to experience it, and no one can do that for you. But be ready, because it can sneak up on you in the unlikeliest of places – even in the whispy memories of suds and bubbles.  Or in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas – may it be magical.