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Valentine Day! Love is in the air! Or maybe it was just snow….

Last week, we finally got a bunch of the white stuff, and I’m grateful for a little winter weather, emphasis on “little”. The last time I called out Mother Nature for giving us a mild winter, her Valentine Day present was dumping 108 inches on us in the month of February…

This week we made it through another Valentine’s Day. When I was single, it seemed like everyone around me was living in a romcom, and I wasn’t.  I had boyfriends, but I swear every single one of these relationships would come to an end right before Valentine’s Day.

Until I started dating this Italian guy named Dino.

We’d met in March the year before, and I could say for certain that I was in love with him, and he with me. So you can imagine my joy when February arrived. Finally, I was going to celebrate V-Day like other girls in love! Bring on the roses! The stuffed animals! The heart-shaped box filled with slightly stale chocolates!  I was ready.

That morning, I went to work and watched as my co-workers received flowers, sweets and even a stripper-gram (well, it was the 90’s).  I waited by the phone but…nothing came.  The morning dragged into the afternoon and still, nothing from my Italian.  Finally around five, I called him in a huff and wished him a Happy Valentine’s Day in my best passive aggressive voice.

We made plans to get together that night, but I was still bummed out that I didn’t have a huge bouquet of roses to cart home on the subway.  For his gift, I’d bought him a CD of one of his favorite artists, Joe Jackson.  The album was called Laughter and Lust (cool title, right?) so I was psyched to give this to him.  We met up, and I gave him my present, which he seemed to like. Then, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a long thin box.  Oh my god, I thought! It’s a bracelet!  Or maybe a watch!  I opened it and there…lying in deep blue satin…was….a harmonica.

I thought, “Is there a bracelet under the harmonica?” No.  It was just a harmonica.  As I thanked him, he said, “Well, I know you love singing in your band, and you guys do some blues tunes. I thought you might like playing the harmonica.”

My first thought was: does he think I’d ruin my lipstick and blow into this thing?  But honestly, it was the best gift ever. Anyone can give you roses or chocolates, but it takes a special kind of man to give you a harmonica.  Here was a guy who understood my dream to be a musician. Here was someone who would never accept or embrace the ordinary.

And I have treasured that more than any rose or chocolate as the years have gone by.  Here’s to love that doesn’t fit the mold. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

P.S. The next year, he gave me another harmonica box, but this one did have a bracelet in it.

P.P.S. I am at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City this week, so we spent Valentine Day apart. Wednesday night, I am about to start playing a showcase and our friend Ellie Buckland from Lula Wiles interrupts me and says “I have a package for you”. I say thank you, and she says “It’s not from me, it’s from Dino”. And sure enough, inside it is another harmonica box with a pair of earrings…

P.P.P.S – I still don’t play the harmonica…