A Valentine Too Big for One Day

Everyday living-- all that we do day in and day out, moment to moment-- informs the entirety of our life. Much more than graduations, births, and other grand events, everyday living comprises what we see when we look over our shoulder, wondering where we came from, what we're made of, and who we are.

Most of us are terrific in a crisis, precisely because it takes us away from what we might perceive as daily drudgery. Extraordinary events tend to bring out superhero quick wits, derring- do and compassion in ordinary folks. The trouble is, we tend to forget about our potential for greatness and our enormous capacity to love in the course of paying bills, going to the dentist, emptying the dishwasher and all the mundane accompaniments to living. If only we could remember that we are capable of being great and glorious every day! If we could manage to remind ourselves every morning to look for joy and love right where we are, in our daily chores and as we earn our daily bread maybe we really could be the hero of our own story! I don't know for sure, because I'm still trying to find the beauty in unexpected surgeries and bad drivers, but I've felt for many years that the key to happiness lies in this concept.

In the early 90s Steve and I were living together in the Sunset across the street from the Conservatory of Music where he used to teach in the prep division. On his Saturday lunch breaks we had a nice weekly routine. I would ride my bike down to 9th and Irving to procure burritos from Peppers Taqueria. Then I would race back just in time to meet him coming home from across the street. We would eat and chat, feeling very Parisian to have such luxury in the middle of a working day. Then it was off to teach for him, and off to practice (music back then, not yoga!) for me.

One weekend I decided to propose to Steve. He had asked me to move in with him a year earlier, and I had declined, wanting a little more time to be on my own. We eventually moved in together, but I knew that he would never risk asking me to marry him.

So one morning I got out a nice bit of paper and decorated it with bugs, hearts, stars, and other stuff I like. Then I hand wrote, because we knew how to do that back then, a note. I wrote that I could have asked the question I was about to ask over a fancy bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant but I chose instead to ask over (actually, inside) a Saturday afternoon Peppers burrito. I wrote that it seemed it was the love we shared on a day to day basis that would create a foundation we could build on through the years. Then I asked if he would marry me.

I took my little note, wrapped it tightly in plastic and popped it in my backpack. I hopped on my bike and pedaled to Peppers. Locked the bike, went in, SO excited, and when they asked "the usual?" I answered, "the usual with a twist!" I asked them to tuck my note alongside the burrito before it was wrapped in foil. A little confusion and chaos ensued but it was eventually sorted out. The crew wished me luck, and off I went with two burritos, one just a little heavier than the other.


So, you might ask, what was Steve's answer? After he got over the alarm of biting into a juicy burrito and finding a plastic wrapped card between his teeth?

"Wow, Jen, I am so...wow, I don't know....it's so sudden! uh....can I think about this?"

And the rest is everyday living history!


Now, looking over my shoulder almost exactly 22 years later, I see clearly how those burrito moments are the ones I really do cherish and remember. Yes, there have been trips to Paris, concerts in Carnegie Hall and incredible meals at Chez Panisse as well. As amazing as those experiences have been they have nothing on the small, day to day routines that have shaped my journey from child to adult, girlfriend to wife, wife to mother, musician to yoga teacher. 

jennifer durand