In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am dedicating this blog post to love.  More specifically, how I overcame my aversion to romance.

Well, anyone who knows me personally can tell you that I’m a complete sap, and I’m unabashedly nostalgic, but somehow the whole flowers-and-chocolates routine always made me gag a little bit.

My husband and I met each other in the swampy dish pit of a scuzzy little pub in Missoula, Montana.  We got together soon after, and were married by our second “anniversary.”  Now, our courtship was not the most flowery one.  We didn’t go on our first proper date until after we were married.  We had a very small outdoor wedding and no honeymoon, and I wear a plain silver band on my ring finger while he sports a simple ring tattoo.  We never celebrated things like “the anniversary of our first kiss” or had “our spot” or “our movie.”  We were happy and in love despite our lack of public affection or mushy declarations on Facebook.

Fast forward two years and two kids later, to Butte, Montana.  My husband enlisted in the midst of the recession in order to provide some stability and better opportunity for our young family.  Following this incredibly selfless (and rather romantic) act, he was shipped off to Basic Combat Training followed by Advanced Individual Training.  He left me and our sons, ages 5 months and two years old, behind and set off for what was supposed to be 7 months of training followed immediately by a deployment.

For two unromantic people, we became pretty saccharine pretty quickly.  Unable to talk on the phone or communicate online, we faithfully wrote each other letters every single day of his BCT.  I sent pictures and drawings from the kids, and he wrote poetry and sweet nothings that made me blush.  During his training, I traveled thousands of miles and moved several times with our very young kids.  I listened to the radio a lot while I was driving, and a lot of love songs would get me kind of worked up.  Emotional, even.

One song in particular stuck a chord with me and I shared the lyrics in one of my letters to my husband.  We are both music lovers, and somehow “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes got me choked up every time it came on.  (I’m sort of outing myself right now, so I’ll just come clean and admit that I sometimes listen to Top 40 while driving and doing dishes!  Phew.  That felt good.)  In case you aren’t familiar with the tune, here’s a sampling of the lyrics:

If I could only find a note to make you understand
I’d sing it softly in your ear and grab you by the hand
Just keep it stuck inside your head, like your favorite tune
And know my heart’s a stereo that only plays for you

[Chorus:] My heart’s a stereo
It beats for you, so listen close
Hear my thoughts in every no-oh-oh-te
Make me your radio
Turn me up when you feel low
This melody was meant for you
Just sing along to my stereo

I only pray you’ll never leave me behind (never leave me)
Because good music can be so hard to find (so hard to find)
I take your hand and hold it closer to mine
Thought love was dead, but now you’re changing my mind

My husband was unexpectedly sent home following AIT instead of going on deployment, due to budget cuts.. We made our way to Helena (he is with the local National Guard unit), and we bought our first home here in August. We have three kids now, and I’ll have a huge stack of love letters to pass on to them when we’re gone. That’s something that most people from our generation can’t say, so it feels pretty special to bestow that gift upon our children.

I have allowed myself to be more romantic/sentimental in our relationship, and I have to credit our time apart with bringing us closer together. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I would still be pissed if he spent money on flowers, but I get all doe-eyed when he brings me a record or buys me camera gear instead.  He writes songs for me, which is pretty much a slam dunk in any woman’s book.  You could say we’ve found our own brand of romance, and we even have plans to renew our vows and take that honeymoon…someday.

I’d love to hear what love songs everyone else gets gaga over!  Maybe I’ll make a playlist for the next time we have a split second alone together.  Happy Valentine’s Day, world!