Love is space and time measured by the heart. ~Marcel Proust
Valentine’s Day 1982
It was their first Valentine’s Day together. They wanted to go somewhere special for dinner, not their regular digs of Lord Hardwicke’s. They headed for downtown C’ville.
Poor college students in love, they strolled hand in hand along the downtown streets.
“Fellini’s. Italian. This looks like a good place to eat.” Plain white store front with canopied windows, it looked affordable while not exactly a hole in the wall. She smiled as he pulled her through the door.
They adjusted their eyes to the dark room lit only by the golden aura of candle light. A tuxedoed maître d’ welcomed them. Large eyed and nearly empty pocketed, they looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
He squeezed her hand as the host led them up a flight of stairs. He seated them in a cozy corner and left them with menus. A small circle of light between them and the rest of the world disappeared.
“Geez. I had no idea this was so expensive. Perhaps we should exit the fire escape. “
“Me, either. “ They decided they could not go back out the way they came in…just too embarrassing. They giggled as they plotted their escape and teased about having to spend the night doing dishes and mopping the restaurant floor.
She told him she had money with her. He let out a sigh of relief. They added their money together and decided they could afford to get the cheapest item on the menu, spaghetti which came with salad and bread, and still leave a meager tip.
While they waited for their food, they held hands across the table. He pulled his hand away long enough to trace her cheekbones contoured by the candle flame. He told her she was beautiful. She was glad her blushing cheeks blended into the shadows. They spoke of love, life, and their future.
They turned down the suggestion of wine. After the waiter walked away, he told her he had a bottle of Sutter Home (a splurge in his student status) for later.
Their eyes barely left one another while they ate. When they finished they joked again about taking the fire escape.
They walked into the dark night, glowing all the way to the car.
****A few weeks later the girl’s older brother came into town and wanted to take her to a nice restaurant for lunch. She suggested Fellini’s’. They walked in the door to see all the chairs stacked on the tables and things in a state of disarray as they weren’t open for lunch. The brother called it a dive. The little sister knew he just didn’t understand the ambiance of candlelight and young love.
****Of their thirty-three years of Valentines together this stands out as their favorite.