Valentine’s Day is stupid. I’ve always hated it, with the bullshit drugstore aisle gifts and pre-fab sentiments. I hate comparing the size of your love (or absence of it) through bouquets of flowers sent to the office; hate that going out to dinner means a crowded restaurant with a high-price set menu, that if you don’t go out to dinner it means one of you has to spend hours preparing something impressively ostentatious or risk being less romantic than your peers. I hate the competition, the expectations, and the combination of red and pink.

What I love is love. I love trust and tenderness and the little things that make a life together so beautiful. And I love real romance—something that can only be born of impulse, the breathtaking thrill of being taken up with a rush of emotion; riding the wave of it from swell to break. You can’t plan that feeling or put it in a heart shaped box.

I remember one night, a few years ago… There was this guy I liked. We were a month or so deep into conversation—a near constant conversation on every platform we could use to connect, from the moment we woke up till the last words before we slept—which we had both taken great pains to seem casual about.

That night we let slip that there were feelings, that maybe something more than friendship was brewing between us. We sat quietly, absorbed the information, agreed to continue getting to know one another until the timing was just right…

It was late, time to drive me home. One of those beautiful Chico summer nights where the air is warm and the moonlight is clear and everything is cast in silver. I paused at the door; catching my reflection in the truck window, I tucked a stray lock of hair back in place, and glanced at him. He looked at me, reached out and gently touched my hair where I had fixed it, then, impulsively, he twisted his fingers into it and pulled my lips to his. His mouth was soft and sweet; fireworks, melting, shivers… I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I floated into a whole new world on the wave of that passion.

That kiss could only be rivaled by the kiss we shared on our wedding day, when he looked into my eyes and told me, unscripted, what was in his heart right at that moment. A team of professional writers with the combined skill of Shakespeare, Byron, and E.L. James could never in a lifetime have made me so weak in the knees. Certainly no Hallmark card.

Those grand experiences could only penetrate so deeply when they’re underpinned by constant proof of their meaning. Dain is unreasonably generous to me, making sure I’m fed when I can’t stop working, looking at me like I’m beautiful when I wake up with messy hair and smeared makeup, always listening and communicating without judgement, making me laugh, offering everything in his power to bring me happiness. When he looks into my eyes and tells me he loves me, I know it’s the guiding truth at the core of his being; he means it, and I mean it too. Love is the hottest thing ever.

Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.