Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Love Story

One thing about being a teacher is that most times you don't have what's called "money." One of Silena's favorite holidays is Valentine's Day and I would like to be able to give her the moon, but right now I can't even give her a moon pie. All I have to give this Valentine's Day is a story, for her and the rest of the world. (Or at least the five people that read this blog.)

In August 1998 Silena and I had been dating for a little over two years. This had been the greatest time in my life. I felt like I truly understood what love was. I can still remember the first time I ever met Silena. When she turned around and looked at me with those big blue eyes it felt like she could see straight through me. I can't say I believe in "love at first sight" because love is something that is built, but the feeling I had was as close as you can get. Despite the magic of that first summer and those first two years of dating and the feeling that my heart was full to bursting, I still had a lot to learn.

That August I got some news that truly shook my world. I found out that my father, who I hadn't seen since I was 12 but always hoped I would see again, had killed himself. I tried to act like I didn't care, but I truly did. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't had either a bad relationship or no relationship with their father, the effect it has. I descended into a period where it felt like I didn't deserve anything good in my life and that there was no good in me. Subconsciously I was trying to destroy myself. Don't worry, I don't have any truly shocking revelations, but I wasn't in a particularly good place.

Through all of the bad feelings and bad decisions, Silena stuck beside me. She was like an angel who didn't see the man I was, but saw the man I could be. As we prepared for Valentine's Day in 1999, on a whim we decided to do something different. Since the wait for all the restaurants in Birmingham was always about two hours, we decided to drive to the beach for the day and eat some seafood. What the heck, it was only four hours each way and we were young. There have been many short stories and novels written about road trips and, friends, there is a good reason for that. A good road trip can change your life...

Silena picked me up in Jim's old '88 Oldsmobile. When I got in there were paper hearts taped everywhere. We listened to a love song mix tape that I made her all the way to the beach with the volume turned up to glass-shattering levels. When we left Birmingham it was overcast and freezing cold but as we headed south on I-65 the clouds began to break. Somewhere between the high volume sing-alongs and the sunshine the clouds began to break in me too. When we pulled into Destin, we stopped at one of the public beaches and got out of the car. When we left Birmingham it had been in the 30's but when we got out of the car we began to pull off coats and long sleeves because it was in the 60's. The smell of the salt air and the warmness was overwhelming, and something I'll never forget. It felt like I was waking up from a long night full of bad dreams. Or maybe it felt like when you go to sleep after a terrible day and descend into great dreams. All I know is it felt like I had been reborn.

The rest of the day was like a dream. We went for a walk on the beach, hand in hand, laughing and running around young and carefree. We ate dinner at Captain Dave's on the beach and I can still remember how beautiful Silena looked with the sun setting behind her as it cast a deep purple over the mighty gulf. The way the sun looked, the way the air felt, the smile on Silena's face and the light in her eyes are images that are still just as vivid in my mind today. As the sun set during dinner I knew what love was. Love was the patience and loyalty that the beauty sitting across the table from me had shown. Love was the feeling that I could not bear to think of living a life that didn't include her. I decided then that we would have to be married before the end of that year. On December 11 of that year I got the girl and, by the grace of God, I still have her. Thanks to her Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays too. Silena, I love you...

4 comments:

beth spray said...

okay - now i think that is one of the sweetest posts i have ever read!!! better than anything money could possibly buy!!! happy valentine's day you guys!!

Trace Car Driver said...

seriously clint. that was SO sweet... you should blog more often :) i bet silena will always treasure this post, and the memories you shared! god knew what you needed and what she needed as well so he put ya'll together!

seabird said...

Clint, that blog was precious. I know Silena probably values what you wrote way more than a moon pie or a gift:)You guys are so cute together.

Christy D said...

That was so sweet. Yall are a neat couple. I've enjoyed reading your blog this morning!