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Tim started my day with a laugh, as he often does.

“Irish people talk like they’re poking you in the chest.”

I chuckle. “Why do you say that?”

“This book I’m listening to on Ireland. Everything they say sounds like they’re trying to drive an important point home. ‘THAT IS THE CUTEST RABBIT I’VE EVER SEEN!’ or ‘YOUR MOTHER IS AN ABSOLUTE SAINT!'”

I crack up. He picked up the Irish brogue from the author of the book “Say Nothing”, Patrick Radden Keefe, same guy who recorded it, and Tim’s been sharing bits of it daily for weeks. I see my family in those words, my mother with her intelligent eyes and pugnacious spirit, my grandfather whose temper rose like mercury, my sister the whirlwind.

Tim can do almost any voice you’d ever want to hear. It’s part of why I enjoy him so much; he makes me laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever known. Voices, ridiculously bad phrases in French (which he ostensibly speaks,) perfectly memorized jokes from professional comedians he met while managing a bar. He can just say the first couple of words from a given joke, and I’m gone, collapsed in giggles, weak with laughter. He hums a few notes from that one clown funeral video and I’m over the edge.

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day much here. The anniversary of our first date as adults, as opposed to when we were teenagers, is in early February, so we take that opportunity to lavish each other in affection. We don’t need another excuse one week later to do the same thing. Plus, flowers are WAY cheaper on Feb 4 than they are on Feb 14.

But he woke me up laughing again, something that’s so often the case I almost take it for granted. I love seeing those twinkling green eyes peering at me in the early dusk of morning, his deep-set snowman eyes creaking awake to say hello.

This guy.

It’s been snowing for a few days here, unusual for this area. The dog has been desperate to be out in it, and Tim’s in his natural habitat, cold and white. He belongs on hockey skates. While he was outside the other day, I tried to catch a picture of him in profile, handsome with the graying beard, wearing his Irish walking cap. But he caught me in the window and tried to pose with his usual not-quite-a-smile self-conscious grimace, so I gestured that he should turn sideways.

Turn he did, posing like a chorus girl, pursing his lips, showing off his lovely figure. And I collapsed in giggles again at my goofy man; the one who loves checklists and spreadsheets, who watches the International Space Station cross the tip of South Africa every night before bed, the serious hockey statistician and passionate progressive, the steady partner who shows up and shows up and shows up in every way he knows how, the dedicated father whose kids are getting to know him all over again as adults.

He’s more than just my sweet Valentine, and I like having our own secret pre-holiday celebration of just our relationship, of just us. We talk about the drive he took six hours to see me, the ease with which he decided that I was his path, and the flavor of our teenage love, now ripe with adulthood, still ravenous, still somehow never sated.

He’s mine, this is the day for saying such things publicly.

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