In 10th grade, I had this really down year, which I guess is similar to everyone else in the world, and we just didn’t think we could tell each other back then - funny how that works.
Anyway, I’d gone through a violation/assault thing the spring before, which wasn’t as serious as rape, but serious enough to be reported and turned against by “friends” of mine and the guy who did it.
The next year I had a few good friends but didn’t feel safe with friends I’d made the year before, plus was dating a guy four hours away I’d met camping, so it wasn’t hard to seclude myself.
The redeeming factor was working in the Jazzercise daycare. I got really close with a lot of the parents and instructors, including Gretta*, who was the most straight-forward, funniest character there.
Anyway, Valentine’s Day was awful. Everyone had a valentine or hated the day, and I’d have one in a couple weeks when I saw the guy. So as the old cliche goes, I was super nice and happy to everyone but all depressed deep down.
For one, I realized how worse it could be - I casually asked two mothers picking up their tots after a class about exciting Valentine’s Day plans, and found out one actually had to meet with her son’s father - her ex - for some awkward conversation. The other was in a similar situation.
Two, is that Gretta* brought a dozen pink roses to work and insisted every employee got one. I thought this was a nice gesture and watched each instructor take theirs. I was just the daycare worker, so I wasn’t about to dive in. But she made sure I got a pink rose too.
It was seriously the best Valentines Day gift, ever. It doesn’t matter that two weeks later I finally had belated Valentine’s Day with that guy, or that I’ve had boyfriends and single Valentines Days since. She probably doesn’t even remember doing it, unless it’s an annual thing. It was just so great saying that year, that I got a rose, on Valentines Day, and that someone cared. I can’t explain it, but I’m close to tears remembering it.
So four years later I’m teaching Sunday School and Gretta*’s family joins the church. Her and her son both remembered me, and we still say hello in passing.
Her husband, a local sports-caster, is also the only person at my hometown TV station to graduate from the J-school I’m attending now. So even though we literally only say hello in passing, I kind of hold that family close to my heart. They don’t need to know it. Maybe someday I’ll tell them.