February 28, 2006
In her song “February,” Dar Williams uses February as a metaphor for a relationship that has gone on so long that there doesn’t seem to be any point to it:
I threw your keys in the water, I looked back,
They’d frozen halfway down in the ice.
They froze up so quickly, the keys and their owners,
Even after the anger, it all turned silent, and
The everyday turned solitary,
So we came to February.
But he doesn’t last, and by the next fall:
The leaves were turning as we drove to the hardware store.
My new lover made me keys to the house.
And when we got home, well we just started chopping wood, Because you never know how next year will be,
And we’ll gather all our arms can carry,
I have lost to February.
(from Mortal City)
This song means more up north. When we lived in New York, I hated February. By then, the winter had been going on too long, and it was gray and gloomy. I played game after game of solitaire and did the same puzzles over and over.
But a number of things have happened since then. We moved to North Carolina, and February in NC is more like March in NY. North Carolina gets a lot more sunshine in general, especially in the winter, and you can get beautiful days in the 50’s and 60’s (like today).
The second thing is that…different months have different feelings to me. December has always meant busy-ness – shopping, concerts to rehearse for, papers to write, exams, and church programs. December is hectic.
October is beautiful. The last of the heat has gone, the leaves are turning, and the chrysanthemums are blooming. It’s always been a celebratory month since my sister and I both have birthdays. However, twelve years ago, my father passed away a week after my birthday so, since then, October has been mixed. It took years to get back to enjoying October. Now it is happy - until it is sad.
February used to feel bad. But now, it’s wonderful. It’s the month I got married, the month my
first child was born, the month my second child was born, and the month my
third child was due (he came early).
The turning point, for me, was on a snowy, February Saturday in my senior year in high school. There had been a guy at school that I’d had a crush on. Back in the fall, we’d gone on one date that went very badly (awkwardly), and I had just tried to ignore him and forget about him since then. But it didn’t work. So, I decided to give this a second try.
I knew a number of people in this high school by this point so I got to work. I checked with every one I knew – the younger girls on the bus who were tied in to an extensive gossip network. They said he wasn’t dating anyone. The girl who sat next to me in French (and who always volunteered to take attendance when we had a substitute and marked everyone present who was skipping. I appreciated that!) whose locker was next to his – she said he didn’t seem to be dating anyone. The few band people I knew who were also involved in the art department also said he seemed unattached.
Now, I was extremely shy. I still am shy in many ways, but it’s nothing compared to then. So I wasn’t going to be very direct. I found out his schedule, and made sure I passed him in the halls, smiled and said hello (not easy). I called him up to ask advice on physics homework that I’d already finished on the bus. And (looking back, I can’t believe I did this) I sent him a Valentino-gram.
Valentino-grams were a way that the
choir made money – and they were a lot of fun. You’d pay $5, and you’d get to send a card and members of the choir
would gather around the victim…recipient and embarrass them by singing the
chorus of your chosen song.
I had been teasing him in physics class about being the “epitome of arrogance.” Unlike me, he seemed to be supremely self-confident and nothing seemed to faze him. In fact, he joined our lab group because it was, at the time, all girls, and he thought it was a challenge. I had noticed him the first day of physics because of his laugh.
So, I sent him the Valentinogram that said, “To the epitome of arrogance, Every one is looking at you.” That was the sarcastic part. But (and this is the part I can’t believe I did), I had them sing, “Let me call you sweetheart….”
Another girl in our lab group also sent him a Valentinogram. I was irritated!
They were predicting the possibility of snow for the following weekend. In our part of NC, predicted snow doesn’t always happen – it turns into rain, or sleet, or, the worst, freezing rain. And, it was Saturday, so it wouldn’t get us out of school. I had this weird feeling that, if it snowed, he would come to take me for a walk. There was no reason behind this – I hadn’t really talked to him since the Valentinogram, and, even though he lived in the same neighborhood, I didn’t talk to him outside. But I had this odd feeling.
I ignored it, and slept in like I usually did on Saturdays – until my sister came running into my room screaming, “There’s a boy at the door!” (Remember, I was shy – this had never happened before!).
We took a walk, and talked. It was the first of many walks and talks. We finally went on a regular date sometime in April – where I pretended to enjoy Baklava (I don’t like honey). I’ve never been to a Greek restaurant since.
Fast forward to today – a beautiful, warm day. I’ve got the window open next to me, and I’m listening to our youngest son and his friends who are scootering and screaming up and down the court. Our oldest son is upstairs inventing worlds with a friend. Our daughter is resting up for her ballet pointe class. Dear husband is driving back from SC where he’s been on a business trip since Sunday. When we get back from ballet, we’ll have dinner together. We’ve been married for 25 years, and two weeks (we got married two years after the Valentinogram).
I love February. I’m sorry to see it leave.