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A Special Valentine

February 27th, 2008


Life’s milestones have always been cause for celebration and reflection. I proudly reminisced on the 25th anniversary of my company’s incorporation, pondered the 30th anniversary of packing in a military aviation career and am somewhat astonished that 2008 is 40 years since high school graduation.

But this past Valentine’s Day was something even more meaningful, the ten-year anniversary of an event that has turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Yes, February 14th 1998 was the day I asked Lisa Calvi to marry me on top of a reservoir dam overlooking California’s Beale Air Force Base. I was determined that, before the sun set on that Valentine’s Day, I’d rally up enough nerve to pop ‘the question’.

We were checking out routes for an automotive product launch that had taken us to the mountains of central California. With a void of fancy restaurants, gushing waterfalls or sprawling seascapes, sunset found us on a dirt road behind the air force base with nothing of any significance but the dam.

So we climbed to the top and as ominous jet fighters bore holes in the rosy stratosphere, I bestowed a necklace upon my love, managing to get it tangled in her long chestnut hair and asked Lisa to marry me. We’ve never looked back.

The remoteness of the location must have been an omen of things to come because since then we’ve not only created the finest ten years of my life, but have managed to see much of the world in the process. We live and play together. We go to the office and work together then hop on an airplane and fly somewhere so we can spend a week driving around designing an automotive product launch or writing a travel story. Eating, exercising, strategizing and family time almost always involves Lisa. It seems we are invariably side-by-side. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I look at her and say “you again”. And the laughing starts.

So this year I reckoned we should celebrate our ten years of togetherness with a road trip to romance. We had a new capable and rugged Jeep Liberty parked in the driveway crying to get out and live up to its reputation so I went online looking for options.
It didn’t take long to book a special Valentine’s package at the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. After all, there is nothing like a five-hour drive to a place that has been pampering guests for 119 years to reminisce ten years of romancing the road with lovely Lisa.

Of course before we left, I ransacked our CD collection for what Lisa later termed a collection of ‘old people’. Hey, although Lisa dabbles as lead singer with a blues band, she sang George Jones' Walk Through This World With Me at my 50th birthday party. So who needs a stash of rappers and hip-hop artists when the crooners and balladeers are available?

At the Algonquin, we started with spa treatments, for Lisa a facial while I zoned out with a full-body massage feeling a little bratty, but so what? After a million or so kilometres of driving with Lisa by my side, I deserved a little rest and relaxation. But that is what the Fairmont Algonquin is all about, pampering without pretension, leaving the norm behind.

Then over a four-course table d’hôte Valentine’s Day feast, we relived some of the highlights of our ten years together; watching our children grow into beautiful and articulate young women, Funky Museum Roadshows, a road trip along the ice-road to Tuktoyaktuk, business meetings in Karachi, Pakistan and other far-flung locales. And when the waitress brought desert, the Triple Death by Chocolate Tasting Tower For Two, I knew Lisa’s love for the next ten years was guaranteed. We giggled like school children.

Morning featured a storm blowing in from Maine across the mouth of the Saint Croix River. I watched it charge across the water from our cozy room. Before long the snow was flying and visibility was limited. Over breakfast of yummy Eggs Benedict beside the crackling fireplace of the Fairmont Algonquin’s Library Restaurant, I considered the Jeep Liberty parked out front. We could have given it a workout on a mini-excursion to Minister’s Island along a road that only exists when the tide is out, or we might have visited one of the cute shops of St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea.

We chose to sip coffee and ponder the next ten years. It seemed things were about to get off to a good start because the weather had closed in and with a five-hour drive in front of us, the Jeep Liberty, with its go-anywhere, do-anything attitude, was just the ticket to turn it into a little fun.

And as we tossed our bags into the Jeep, I kissed Lisa on the cheek and whispered, “You again.”

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