The rain fell all day yesterday and last night. It stopped for a bit but only to gather a little more energy because it then began to pour again, to pound the roof, around midnight. After that came the highlight of the storm, the thunder and lightning. I was reading in bed when the whole room was lit by a flash of light then another flash then another. The thunder was a rumble at first which got louder and louder until it became a crash. I stopped reading to listen. Gracie slept right through it. It seemed to thunder for a long time then the rumbling began to fade until it disappeared. The rain fell more quietly having expended all its energy for that one giant blast.
Today was the big day, Valentine’s Day. I’d sit at the kitchen table the night before and in my best handwriting fill in my name on the back and the names of my classmates on the fronts of the envelopes. My mother always bought the valentines with a picture on the front, usually with a corny saying, and a place on the back for my name. Kathleen usually ended up slanted as it’s a long name. I also had to add an R. so everyone would know it wasn’t Kathleen D. or Kathleen L. Those precious valentines were carefully carried to school as were the cookies my mother had made for the party. The week before, during art, we had transformed shoe boxes into valentine boxes.
We had to do regular school work most of the day. It killed us. Our minds were on those envelopes sitting in boxes under our desks. I wondered who would give me valentines and feared not getting one from my secret crush of the week. In those days we didn’t give one to everybody in the class. I think it was more a matter of expense than thoughtlessness. Finally, after eons had passed, the nun would tell us to put our books away. She’d start to clear off her desk to make room for the party food. We’d pull our decorated boxes off the floor onto our desks and sit impatiently waiting for the festivities to start. The nun directed us row by row to walk around and hand out our valentines. We’d sit as classmates walked by and dropped envelopes or didn’t. We never opened them until all of us had taken our turns. It was then the party began. We’d get cookies and candy then sit at our desks and talk and open the valentines. We’d giggle at the ones from boys being young enough still to giggle without being silly. The party lasted until the final school bell when we’d reluctantly clean up and get ready to leave. The valentines went in our boxes and we carried those treasures home as it they were the crown jewels.
I’d sit at the kitchen table and look at those valentines then I’d keep them safe in the box for a long time so I could look again and again.