I roam the aisles of Target as I wait for prescriptions to be filled. Laddu’s hand is in mine. She stops every now and then, pointing, asking, demanding. We meander to the back of the store where hearts are hung from the ceiling and the predominant color is red. I look through the mostly empty bins searching for tokens of love.
Does it take the shape of a heart, molded from candy, sweet and dark? Is it a set of plush monkeys hugging each other, holding a bag of chocolate hearts? I sort, linger, shake my head and move on until I spy three tiny beanie boo clip-ons. A pink dog carrying a red heart, two white unicorns spotted with pink hearts, boasting a unicorn mane. I pick them up and Laddu clamors to hold hers. I let her with the warning that I will need it so I can pay for it at the counter.
She now skips and hums, the “I am bored!” replaced with “Pinky poo, I love you!”
We get in line at the pharmacy behind two other people. I watch the exits as people stream in and out. I see people clutching hearts, candy, roses, jewelry, and balloons. I should have the stray thought about the commercialization of love, but all I can see are thought bubbles over each person as they hurry. I look at harried mothers, frazzled fathers, serene grandparents and the occasional giggly child holding on tokens of appreciation. I see love. I see intent. I see thoughtfulness.
I tuck away the little tokens I have inside a box that I am sure the kids will not touch. I write notes and attach them to the beanie boos. I even draw a tiny heart next to the “I love you.”