I've never been much of a Valentine's Day person. Truthfully, I think it's a very hallmark fabricated holiday and I've just never been a fan of things that feel forced. This Valentine's Day, it was the first time I was actually in a serious relationship... I was also out of the country thousands of miles away from Chris. Knowing that I've never been a Valentine's Day person... it wasn't that hard to be away from Chris that day. It was difficult having a full two weeks apart from each other though. I think what made it even more difficult is the fact that he was at home living every day life and I was off gallivanting through Ireland and Lebanon.
My world was being changed... I was experiencing something incredibly unique and he was not there to share in that with me. I've always had a passion for traveling and other cultures. I became a nurse because I wanted to be a missionary in Central Asia and in many ways this trip was a glimpse into the dreams I once held. It was inevitable that I would come home a changed person... the love I had for language and culture and people would be undoubtedly renewed.
I have to admit that part of me was worried he wouldn't fully understand where I was coming from and having no ability to talk on the phone during the entire two weeks made it even more difficult. We were limited to brief online conversations where we could momentarily check in with each other.
The thing with online conversations that is hard too is it makes for a lot of miscommunication, especially when it comes to trying to convey how you feel. Comments can be so easily misunderstood.
Chris and I were not immune to this and my fear of him not understanding where I was coming from was fueled by a few moments of disconnect. One being about my excitement in learning Arabic and my over zealous use of all the new words I had been learning.
To make a long story short we got our wires crossed and it was not a fun misunderstanding to have when you are limited to IM messages half way across the world from each other. We eventually sorted things out though and when I got home I returned to one of the most thoughtful gifts I had ever received.
After a 30 hour flight and a much anticipated reunion with my belated valentine... we gathered up my luggage and headed towards the car. Waiting for me inside was a beautiful potted orchid (I had told Chris a few weeks prior that my favorite flower was the orchid) with a wonderful card.
Then we get home and as we head through the hallway he reaches out and grabs a hello kitty backpack (for those who know me... you know how much I LOVE hello kitty) with an Arabic language map inside just like the one below. I opened it up and quickly realized that it had all of the words I had learned in Arabic and so much more. It had the phonetic spelling and Arabic meaning and writing of every word.... all wrapped into a laminated brochure.
Then... as if I couldn't be touched more... I head into my room and I see "Arabic for Dummies" along with two huge coffee table books about Ireland with gorgeous photos... including many of the places I had been on my trip. I also got an Ireland calendar to top it all off.
Chris said he wanted to bring a piece of Ireland and Lebanon home for me. :)
I was floored. To make it even more amazing I discovered that Chris had already bought these gifts before we had our conversation while I was in Lebanon. So... all this time while I thought he was disinterested in my love for other cultures and traveling and annoyed with my new Arabic obsession... he was actually incredibly supportive of me.
Hands down one of the best presents I have ever been given. And it came with a good lesson too... communication in person is so much better than over the phone or the internet... and second... it's always good to give people the benefit of the doubt. :)