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It's all bubbling and simmering today, all the bits of my life rising to the top and showing their little aspects, plunging back into the depths to churn and roil together some more. Valentine's Day has always been a weird day for me, weird things happen, significant things. I'm not sure that today has had much significance, so far, but we'll see. I do know that its had some moments requiring thought.

I got my ear pierced on Valentine's Day, twenty-five years ago. I went in to get both ears done; my mom had been after me since first grade to get them pierced. I think she thought it'd ward off some of the tomboy tendencies I was inclined towards. But nope, I wasn't going for it. Finally I did go in, a friend was working at the shop doing the ears. I had the first one done, then I just knew that was all I needed, and I made them stop. No second hole. Now, for a man, this is no big deal, but here I am today with one ear pierced, and just about every month someone says, "Oh! You've lost an earring!" I put my hand to my ear, and no, it's still there. Just the one, I have to explain. It's 14g now, and I'm thinking it's about time to stretch it again.

The first multi-partner sexual encounter I ever had was on Valentine's Day. For some reason, it became a tradition for couple of years, even after I'd married one of the participants. So Valentine's Day was for lovers, as it should be! My current partner and I first started seeing each other on the sly, and as my marriage ended, I took up with this other man, my current partner. He and I don't have an anniversary, as such, for that reason. Somehow, this would always make me sad... no moment that was just ours, no day to celebrate being together. I would bring it up sometimes, try to institute a day for us, and he would laugh at me. "You have to have an anniversary of something" he'd say, "Not of nothing!" He never acknowledged Valentine's Day in any way, and I gave up trying to. Then three years ago, I found myself feeling inexplicably sad about this relationship/nonrelationship. Born in secret, continuing through numberless days, it all seemed so dumb! So dumb that I cared about years passing, and that he, who does love me, would refuse to give me an Anniversary. It spilled out all over on Valentines Day, I cried and cried and somehow he must have felt the pain, because the next year he showed up on Valentine's Day with an azalea in a pot, and a card which said, "For HoneyHoney, on the one year anniversary of the day she was so sad because we didn't have an anniversary." This morning I got a cyclamen, with the same card, for the three year anniversary. Why does this touch me so?

And now today. Politics mixes with love, loss, children, position. John Lindh's sister is in my Math class. Her parents are in Virginia trying to keep this son from being the poster boy for revenge on the Taliban. She came to me at the beginning of class with a construction paper Valentine, the name 'John' surrounded by doily hearts, pink and red cutouts glued with Elmer's. She asked if we could pass it around the classroom to sign it, she was going to send it to her brother. The kids all know who he is, where he is. They've been stellar to her, and she's been a trooper, doing her fractions, raising her hand in class, pale and tired every day. "Sure, we can." I agreed, "When we get to work time." Work time, and the card is passing hand to hand. I watch the kids sign. They glance over at her, talking quietly to each other. The last boy in the row signs, looks down at her, then over at me. He rises and takes the card back to her, smiling. She receives it gracefully, looks up to me. I beckon, take the card from her, and send my Valentine's greetings to the man so many would like to see die for his choices. I hear the whispers in the room, "She's signing it, Ms. V. is signing it..." Of course I am. Signing it for his sister, for John's humanity, for the kids in my classroom to watch as an adult makes a humane choice. In my heart I wonder about the boy who'll read this signature, and wonder who I am, an adult's writing in the sea of awkward penmanship. Doesn't matter much who I am.