Mail Order Anniversary
It was a good day by college kid standards: I had just received a package.
I immediately recognized the familiar, hieroglyphics-esque, all caps handwriting on the address label, and my heart became giddy. I also noticed the bold message, Do not open until February 21st.
He has got to be kidding.
My boyfriend Kurt had sent my one year anniversary present almost a month ahead of time. Part of me guessed he just wanted to make sure it got to me by the big day. International mail could be tricky. The other part of me was sure he just wanted to torture me.
Kurt had been studying abroad in Spain for about a month when the package arrived. And he still had five more months before he came home. To say I wasn’t happy about the situation would be an understatement. In fact, I am embarrassed now to think of how miserable I was to be around. But I was in love for the first time in my life. We were still in that “I want to be around you all the time” phase, yet I wasn’t going to see him for six whole months. We wouldn’t be together for my last semester of college, or our one year anniversary, or our first Valentine’s day together. He wouldn’t be there to watch me graduate. And, in my defense, I was only twenty-one. Twenty-one-year-olds can be awfully dramatic sometimes.
But we did everything we could to make an entire ocean seem to be not such a wide expanse between us. International phone cards were expensive, though we would call each other every now and again. Kurt would always cuss out the automated voice that would come on to tell us we had one minute remaining on our talk time. We emailed almost daily and set up times to “talk” in a private chat room we had created. None of this was as easy then as it is today. Kurt had to purchase time at an internet cafe, while I had to keep my emotions in check as I poured my heart out in the middle of my college computer lab. There was also a time difference with which to contend. I remember desperately typing, “Are you there? Where are you?” over and over again when we had some miscommunication over when our next live chat session would be.
But getting “real” mail was special. We would make recordings for each other on cassette tapes. Sometimes we would just talk through a rough day we had. Sometimes we would tell each other stories or play a song. It was like a little audio diary to each other. Whenever we filled a tape, we stuck it in the mail. The best part was never knowing when one of these little surprises would show up. And considering how little we were actually able to talk to one another, the sound of Kurt’s voice was a welcome comfort.
And then there was “the package.” That package that sat on my bedroom floor for almost the entire month of February, just taunting me. What had he sent me for our anniversary? Was it jewelry? Was is Spanish perfume? Oh, the possibilities.
My boyfriend had mailed me our candlelit anniversary dinner together. He had thought of everything: a plate, utensils, some little cakes and muffins, a souvenir glass, a small bottle of Spanish wine, a little bear candle with a #1 on it, and even a vase with a very pathetic looking Stargazer Lily (he had tried to keep it alive, wrapping it in a drenched paper towel and some foil).
We had our special evening together, over the phone, by candlelight. And it of course ended with Kurt calling the automated warning voice a stupid b*tch when only one minute remained of our date. I’m not sure how much more romance I could have asked for.
It’s no wonder I ended up marrying him.
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