It started with 16 pieces of red paper, a pencil, a pair of scissors, a hole punch, and one very long piece of twine. And then I convinced them to pile into the car and head up to the parks that run along the hills over Oakland. And then we found a place with two trees close enough together that the twine would stretch between them but far enough apart that we could stand between the trees and not bother anybody. So, no paths. No hillsides. No parking lots.
And then the sun was quickly setting on the other side of the hill so we couldn't fuss with the light settings on the cameras for too long because the light was simply slipping. Then the two of them started playing behind the sign--he would toss the little one into the air and the little one would giggle and squeal and then he would catch him again and then they would repeat. I fidgeted with my light meter. Stuffed my cold hands into my skirt pockets. They played in the dirt and waited until I was ready.
And then I told them to hold very still for as long as they could hold very still. And then I hit the timer and raced up the hill and grabbed his hand and turned around just in time for the shutter. Click. And after the shutter the little one would point and clap and wait for me to run down the hill hit the timer then up the hill and wait for the shutter. Click. And then the sun kept slipping and I wished we had gotten to the top of the hill sooner. But it's true. It's true what they said, and I believe it...
All You Need Is Love.
Like I still believe in chocolate hearts wrapped in red foil. Like I still believe in flowers brought home by the fistful. Like I still believe in the huge valentine he drew with chalk on the sidewalk just outside my apartment door. I'm not sure, maybe twelve years ago, now? Maybe it was only eleven.
Happy Valentine's Day, dear friends.