In the still-darkened room I reached for my phone to check my work e-mail, but there was no alert telling me that my Manhattan office was closed due to snow and subzero temperatures. I clicked on the MTA website to check on the trains, but it seemed that everything was running relatively normally, with only the regular delays that one would expect when mother nature gifts Westchester County with more than a foot of snow on a weeknight.
I put the phone back on my nightstand and it was about that time that I noticed I was alone in bed.
I went into the hallway where I stood in the darkness for a few seconds listening for the quiet rumble of the TV or the clicking of fingers on a keyboard - sounds that become commonplace, and even comforting, when you are married to a night owl. But the house was silent.
Figuring that David had probably spent most of the night toiling away in his garage workshop, I headed to the window to check on the weather and see how much snow I would have to contend with.
When I pulled up the shade, it took my brain a minute to register exactly what my eyes were seeing. A quiet street. Every house, car, sidewalk and driveway covered in an undisturbed blanket of snow.
Except for my own.
My own driveway was buzzing with activity. Both cars were cleaned off, and running. The entire thing had been cleared, top to bottom. And there, in the center of it all, stood my man, snow-shovel in hand.
I pulled a sweatshirt and sweatpants over my pajamas, threw on some boots and went outside. The frigid air stole my breath as I made my way down the completely clean and positively ice-free driveway. When I reached him and looked at his face - cheeks rosy and eyelashes frosty from hours outside in the cold - it hit me.
This is romance.
To me, romance isn't candle-lit dinners and surprise date nights. It's not moonlit walks on the beach or vacations to exotic destinations. Instead it's this. It's shoveling the driveway so I didn't have to. Warming up the car so the heat would be on when I was ready to leave.
It's stealing the last minutes of darkness before the sun rises, standing together in the cold as the stars disappear and night slides towards day. And it's bundling my freezing cold man into a blanket on the couch and making him coffee before I run upstairs to get dressed for work.
When I look back fifty years from now I may not remember every bouquet of flowers or every present we ever gave to each other. But I know, without a doubt, that for the rest of my life I will remember today, and these moments, when a regular winter morning suddenly became something extraordinary.