Loving Yourself First

Red carnation flower isolated on white background

Loving Yourself First

In high school, the student council had a fund-raiser where we could buy a flower for someone special and have it delivered to them on Valentine’s Day morning in their first-period class.

That year, I sent out three carnations to three unsuspecting girls. I figured there might be a chance to attract at least one of them. Besides, if any one of them had sent me a flower and I didn’t send them one in return, it would be over before it began. A carnation went out to Melanie, Susie and Jenny (Jenny was the long shot). The whole week, I anticipated who might send me some carnations. My friend Brian sent one to his girlfriend. Stephanie sent one to Jason, a guy she had a crush on all semester. My friend Lisa sent one to her good friend Tracy just for fun. That entire week a list of girls ran through my mind. I wondered who would be the one to try to win me over. I had two potentials in mind, but I was more than ready to be completely surprised by any random girl out there for me.

Finally, the morning of February 14 arrived. After thirty minutes of math class, I spotted the student council flower delivery person outside the classroom in the hallway. She entered the room carrying a massive bouquet of flowers for distribution in Mr. Aaron’s math class. Mr. Aaron reluctantly stopped his class and organized the flowers. As he shuffled through the thick stack of cards, the room filled with anticipation. At long last, Mr. Aaron finally had our undivided attention. He asked for a helper and started handing out the flowers. He announced the names on the cards as he delivered the goods. “Neil, Brian, Jennifer, Scott, Chad, Anne, Amy . . .” The list went on for a good ten minutes. Flowers began sprouting up on desktops all around me. Some guys were already on their second and third flowers. One guy even scored a good half-dozen. Even though it was public knowledge that he had a girlfriend, the reality was that he already had six times as many flowers as me.

The list was now coming to an end and there was still a good six or seven of us in the room left holding nothing but a pencil. We had no flowers, no cards, only a small bit of hope that one of the remaining flowers would be for us. Mr. Aaron read out the last couple names, “Two more for Neil and, oh good, one for Harlan.” Yes! There was one for me! Total relief.

I had a pretty good idea who had sent it to me. I looked down at the card and it confirmed exactly what I expected. It wasn’t from Melanie, it wasn’t from Susie, and it definitely wasn’t from Jenny. The card simply read,

“Happy Valentine’s Day

Love,

Harlan.”

My friends asked me who sent it. I told them it was someone very special, and left it at that. They never knew. They didn’t need to know.

Harlan Cohen
Chicken Soup for The Teenage Soul III

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