To Ashley, On Our 8th Valentine’s Day

Our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

It had been just six months since I whisked you down the aisle, placed you in a moving van, and transplanted you into a brand new life.  I’m not sure which proved more shocking or more foreign – the  deep Southern culture, or this thing called marriage.  It felt like I was taking you from the comfort of our small Baptist college nest and thrusting you into the great unknown.  New life, new city, new church, new school, new jobs, new everything.  But the great unknown proved startlingly empty.  No money, no friends, no plans.  Nothing…. except you and I and Friday night pizza on the living room floor.

So I decided to impress you for Valentine’s Day. (I have since learned that you do not want to be impressed; you want to be loved).  Ashley likes fish, I thought.  So I looked around for the best seafood restaurant in Memphis.  Ashley values the unique.  So I eschewed the many Red Lobsters which turned up on my Google search.  And then I saw it.  Tsunami.  Right in the middle of the art district in Midtown.  Ashley is elegant.  This place looked elegant.  So I called for reservations.  This was going to be a night to remember, spared no expense.

We arrived a little late, because I did not know my way around and… well, you know how I am with directions.  When we walked into the small, urban, upscale restaurant I felt immediately out of my element.  But this night was for you.  We were seated and handed our menus.  Fish.  Lots of fish, the names of which I have never heard.  Oh well, I hope Ashley is enjoying herself.  She looks beautiful. 

Tsunami was fancy, like one of those restaurants in our daughter’s Fancy Nancy books.  In fact, I can imagine how Fancy Nancy would describe it – “You know a restaurant is fancy when there are no breadsticks on the table, when the salads cost $10 instead of coming with your dinner, when your $28 entree arrives at the table and it is so small that you have to remind yourself not to eat it in one bite, when you think that this bland fish must taste good to someone somewhere because it cost $28, when the tables are so close together that you are unsure whether you are supposed to make polite conversation with the gay couple next to you.”  Fancy.

I prefer not to think of that first Valentine’s Day as a $90 mistake, but as a $90 lesson.  I still believe you are elegant, but I have learned that your elegance is of the simple variety rather than the extravagant.  You looked just as stunning sitting across from me at Bruster’s Ice Cream later that night as you had at “whatever the name of that overpriced fish place” (as it came to be known in our family).  Simple elegance.  Soft radiance.  Startling depth.  More like evening sunset than the noonday sun.  I like the sunset better.

This Valentine’s Day I vow not to try to impress you, but I will love you.  I will find a babysitter and take you out to (a cheap) lunch where we can talk.  And then we will probably spend Valentine’s night the way we spend most other nights – working together to get dinner on the table, working together to get dinner off the table (and off the floor), working together to make sure our children feel loved and cherished, working together to get kids bathed, pajamas on, teeth brushed, books read, and three kids tucked in bed.

Isn’t Rock Center on at 9:00?  No, it was moved to Fridays.

What’s on?  That show about the surgeon with multiple personalities.  Perfect.

I’m tired.  Me too.  I love you.  I love you too.

Keep your Tsunami.  I wake up next to the sunset.

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10 Responses to To Ashley, On Our 8th Valentine’s Day

  1. Ashley H. says:

    I love it. So much. And I love you. Thank you for this.

  2. Ashley H. says:

    And… that plate is almost exactly what it looked like, size too!

  3. God truly has blessed the world with the two of you. Beautifully transparent, Holy in love with the God who formed you, shining examples of God’s grace. One can only imagine what God has in mind for three precious souls He has given to your charge.

  4. exegete77 says:

    Great tale, the stuff of legends! But even more, your words are powerful and simple. I really like this comment when you describe Ashley: “Simple elegance. Soft radiance. Startling depth.” No finer words, Tim. Well done!

  5. Jacquelyn says:

    I think you should have fish for dinner every Valentine’s Day, maybe as an appetizer. You’ve got my vote!

  6. Tyler says:

    So I’m competing against you for the best blog post at but I just want to say this is a great post for your wife! Blessings brother

  7. SJ says:

    Love this. Thanks for sharing.

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