If you love something, set it free; if it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.

If you love something, set it free; if it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.
Anonymous

This snowy Tuesday finds me thinking about Valentine’s Day. It’s allure…it’s meaning…it’s purpose. Ok, deep enough. We all know that Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter, and yet every year we find ourselves trying to buy the perfect gift to express our love to our beloved.

Gifts that express love…well, what pops into your mind?

Cards? Chocolate? Roses? Jewelry? Vacations? Lingerie?

What gift expresses love?

I don’t know that any gift I’ve ever received for Valentine’s Day has ever actually represented love. However, I did receive a diamond solitare one year.

Yes, I did. February 14, 1996, I opened a ring box with a diamond solitare in it. And looked at it. And the giver looked at me.

What to do, what to do?

What do you think a gift like this means? I know what I thought, but silence followed the opening.

After uncomfortable minutes, “Aren’t you going to try it on?”

I remained silent. I don’t understand. What is it?

The ring eventually comes to reside on my left hand ring finger. That’s an anticlimatic ending to this uncomfortable silence, isn’t it?

Yep! It is. I still didn’t understand.

I wore that ring, the one hinting at long-term commitment, the one most thought represented undying love, the one that taunted me, for months.

That ring was probably one of the most frustrating gifts I’ve ever received. It held so much, and yet had come with so little.

I became angry by the meaningless piece of promise on my finger. So angry that I decided to take a huge step.

I took it off. Put it back in it’s black velvet cacoon. And returned it to the giver.

I don’t know that I’ve ever held my heart in my hands like that since. It was a moment of intense sickness.

He took the ring back and to my surprise continued to see me daily. I didn’t see nor hear anything about that ring for weeks.

Eventually came a date, or a double date to be exact, and I had an atrocious headache. Add to my headache him acting, well, incredibly weird. Fifteen minutes into this date and I had determined that tonight was goodbye. He didn’t want to see me anymore.

Where did we dine? Same place as our first date. He went to the bathroom at least 15 times in one meal. Once his friend even went with him.

Finally we went to the movies. Not a clue what we watched that night. I couldn’t tell you if it was a romance, comedy, action movie. Don’t know if it was good or bad. It was uncomfortable. Silent.

After the movies we started towards the town where he lived. In silence. Finally I interrupted.

“I don’t have time to go all the way to your house. I’m still under curfew and I don’t want to make it worse.”

Silently he turned the car around and drove in the direction of my parents house. Excrutiating.

We stopped at a state-owned fishing access spot less than a mile from my parent’s driveway. He dug into his pocket and pulled out that promise I had returned to him months prior.

I wish I could remember what he said. I wish I could define how I felt when what I thought was goodbye turned into forever.

The second time this ring slid onto my finger it came with the promises it represented. It meant something. It became a true expression of love, and it had absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

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