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18 Feb 2011
A Valentine's Day Memory
Vintage Valentine|sophie-world.com

Never let it be said that teachers don't hold an enormous amount of influence on a child's life. I'll go on about teachers in general in another entry, but I thought that with Valentine's Day having just passed, I'd share my favorite Valentine's moment. It also happens to be about a teacher and so you could say I'm killing two lovebirds with one stone.

About seven years ago, my husband Scott, who loves to cook, thought it would be fun to have a nice, casual Valentine's dinner with a few of our friends. He had planned a lovely meal and was cooking away while I set the table. Scott and I are very good at splitting the duties and taking on what we know we each do well. I do best at staying out of his way and setting a pretty table.

About half an hour before our friends were to arrive, Scott poured himself a glass of wine, put on some music, and settled on the couch to wait for the remaining dishes to finish in the oven.

There, he pulled out a little bag and handed it to me with a sweet, "Happy Valentine's Day," and a kiss on the cheek.

I opened the present, and was surprised to see a very pretty box of body lotion. Now, let me explain a little something about myself: I'm not really a girly-girl. Perfumes, jewelry, bath products, all that sort of stuff is lost on me. I'm much more of a "funny hat" or "fun book" type of gal. But hey, it was Valentine's Day, and I didn't want to be rude.

Not wanting to disappoint, I opened the box, palmed a little of the lotion in my hands, and rubbed them together. And that's when I burst into tears.

The sensual experience was absolutely overwhelming. All of a sudden I was transported back to my first grade classroom in Philadelphia. I was standing next to my favorite teacher, Mrs. Davis. Mrs. Davis was this compact little African American lady who wore glasses, prim skirts, and stockings over unshaven legs. I loved Mrs. Davis. She was the first teacher to push me to perform beyond my grade level, allowing me to move as quickly as I could through English, reading, and math, the subjects in which I excelled. And she always, always smelled like roses.

The funny thing is that my unknowing husband had stumbled upon the most perfect of gifts by total accident. He was shopping for the dinner supplies at a very fancy supermarket in Hillsborough, and he realized he had totally forgotten to get me a Valentine's Day gift! Since I'm allergic to chocolate, candy was out. Since there were no overalls or funny t-shirts to be had, he went with what was left: body lotion. He could have never known the impact that gift would have on me. The completely visceral reaction the lotion caused was unbelievable, and left me reeling.

Ever since that day I have worn the lotion. Scott is sweet enough to purchase it for me in bulk on various occasions (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) so that I have a supply of it year-round. There was even a momentary panic when it looked like they were going to discontinue the brand, but thankfully that never happened!

The loveliest thing for me is that every day I am reminded of my wonderful teacher. And every now and then someone will comment on my "scent" and I'll tell them the story of Valentine's Day and Mrs. Davis. The greatest outcome of sharing the story is that usually that person will then tell me about their favorite teacher, or share a special moment from their childhood, and thus the memories of those amazing educators and mentors live on.

So although this is at its heart a Valentine's Day story, what it really is is a tribute to an awe-inspiring woman who touched me - and so many like me - at a very young age.

Happy Valentine's Day, Mrs. Davis.

Image from Two Crazy Crafters