Twenty-seven years ago today, my sweetheart gave me a pair of heart-shaped, garnet earrings. Gene and I had dated long-distance for about five months when Valentine’s Day rolled around, and I was especially happy—and relieved—to have someone to share the day and evening with that year.
Not to sound pathetic, but I was somewhat broken during that time. On the outside, I appeared fine, but I was empty on the inside. My longterm college boyfriend and I had ended our relationship the year before, and I was hesitant about dating again. I surrounded my heart with a fortress and wouldn’t let anyone penetrate its walls.
But Gene was persistent. He made me smile. More importantly, he made me laugh—a lot.
And so by Valentine’s Day in 1987, I had started to let my guard down, and he seized the moment. He drove the 105 miles in his little white Honda CRX to see me after my classes, stopping on Piedmont Avenue to buy a dozen yellow roses from one of those street vendors who walk up and down the road in the median. He gave me the bouquet followed by a tiny box containing the heart-shaped, garnet earrings—a symbol of his love.
And that was that. We continued to date and married in 1990.
The earrings were my favorite pieces of jewelry until I lost one a few years later. What can you do with one earring? Nothing. Gene rushed to the jewelry store and bought me another pair of garnet hearts, but it just wasn’t the same.
I refused to discard the lone earring—there were too many memories associated with it.
And so, I keep it in my jewelry box as a keepsake. I pick it up from time to time and remember, and smile, and thank the universe for persistence.
Happy Valentine’s Day! May your day be filled with love, kindness, and keepsakes!