February 14th, 2012 was the first time I ever truly had a valentine.
Yes, my mother was my valentines for most Valentines’ Days throughout elementary school (and, at times, high school), but this time I had an actual boyfriend to play the role. I was very excited to pull out all the stops this year to make sure my first Valentines’ Day was a memorable one.
I met Spencer–my boyfriend–last year in our Introduction to Astronomy class. Since then, we’ve done many of the couple milestones you would expect from such a young relationship and we also learned that we both sure a discomfort for receiving overtly expensive gifts from loved ones. We much rather prefer doing things together or making sweet gestures than going through the stress of holiday shopping. With this quality in mind, we both secretly devised V-day surprises for the other which we hoped would garner happiness instead of awkwardness.
A few weeks before Valentines’ Day, Spencer and I went shopping together at the Ithaca Mall and I stumbled upon the baking section of Target. Pausing over the various pie tins and pre-made pie crusts, I admitted to Spencer that I had an obsession for pumpkin pie and was seriously considering purchasing the ingredients to make some. Pumpkin pie is a special treat for me because I can usually only have it a few times a year, such as during Thanksgiving when my grandfather makes his special version with homemade whipped cream. In the end, I decided not to get the ingredients because I was low on cash and low on time. I walked away from the baking aisle slightly disheartened.
Some time later, Valentines’ Day ads crept into every magazine and newspaper and I realized that I needed to come up with a gift for Spencer quick. On the eve of V-Day, I went to 7-Eleven and purchased 16 boxes of Jello brand gelatin and a bag of marshmallows. Confused? So was everyone else in the store.
At one point, a store employee walked over to where I sat in the middle of an aisle stacking up Jello boxes in various structural formations. “Can I help you she asked?” It was obvious from her tone of voice that she was not amused. Nevertheless, I was too focused on my masterpiece to realize the woman was looking at me as if I was a psychopath. Instead, I answered…
See, my boyfriend loves dogs. He had pet dogs as a kid and to this day he still gets excited whenever he sees a dog walk by or a picture of a dog on the internet. My plan was to use the Jello boxes to make a small cardboard dog for him and to use the marshmallows as a trail for him to follow and find the dog. It worked marvelously.
On Valentines’ Day, I sneakily entered Spencer’s apartment building while he was away and aligned the marshmallows in a line up the stairs from the entrance to his front door. I used a marker to decorate each marshmallow with a sweet smiling face and little hearts on their heads. This idea had the double benefit of making the marshmallows look like adorable little creatures welcoming him home as he walked up the stairs and as a line of hearts as he walked back down the stairs.
At the end of the line, the marshmallows circled around his new cardboard dog. With a goofy smile and glowing red heart, the dog held my V-day card for Spencer and protected the marshmallow people from lurking intruders. I ran from the building as fast as I could and waited at Sheldon Court across the street for Spencer to find his gift. Shortly after 5:30pm, Spencer came home from his classes and sent me a text.
At the end of the night, we met to have dinner and I got to see the puppy in his new home–atop the windowsill of my boyfriend’s living room, surrounding by a shrine of marshmallow people and a fantastic view of Collegetown. It was a great surprise and it set a happy tone for the rest of the night. I’m glad I spent all night making the dog (and I do mean all night -__-) because seeing Spencer so happy to receive it made the exact memory I was hoping to have for my first Valentines’ Day.
Oh, what did Spencer get me, you ask?
He spent weeks learning how to bake me the perfect pumpkin pie. <3