From the beach, shortly after sunrise, I call my husband and apologize that I won’t be able to watch him play his tennis match in a tournament today. His match had been rescheduled from yesterday - rain - to today and I had a conflicting appointment. He said he truly didn’t mind. The beach was littered after the storm yesterday. Some bright orange/red finger sponges washed up. It’s Valentine’s Day. So I decided to see if I could reschedule my appointment and make his match. And I could. When I called to tell him I’d be there after all to watch the match with is father, I could tell he was pleased and surprised. I drove almost an hour to the club and sat in the hot sun watching him play the single’s match on clay. Watching him play in the intense, mid-day heat suddenly reminded me of watching him play tennis in the hot August sun thirty three years ago with his father. It was my first visit to the West Coast of Florida to see him where he was living, in Clearwater. It was on this trip that we realized we were in love. His father’s condo, where they had played in the summer mid-day blaze, had a pool, and I remembered the moment, cooling off in the pool with Frank: somebody’s child was swimming, and this sparked a conversation about the children we hoped we might have some day. Today, as the match continued, I realized, oh! we have done that whole part we imagined! We married, raised three, in fact, and now, here we are, mid-day in the sun on the West Coast of Florida, still married, still in love. On Valentine’s Day. Thirty two Valentine’s Days ago I was pregnant with our first born, our son, but I didn’t know it yet.
He played hard, but didn’t win the match. What struck me was how friendly the match was, polite and good natured. Gentlemen, playing with such respect and concern for each other. I never had a doubt after that August trip. At least, that’s how I remember it. Just certain about this man and my desire to spend a lifetime with him. We drove home separately. He stopped to run an errand. Then, came home with a present for me, a new dress to wear out tonight. To get to Florida that August, at his invitation, I scraped out the last little bit of money I had in a savings account to buy that airplane ticket to Tampa, even though I probably needed it to pay a bill. And broke off a casual relationship I’d struck up, mostly to make Frank jealous, with a Spanish guy I’d met at a single’s dance in Boston that June after Frank moved back to Florida. Frank didn’t win the match today. But I made the right choice, deciding to go.