Megan Shepherd
February 13, 2015 2:00 pm

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I like the romance, the flowers, the chocolate. But even so, not every single February 14th in my personal history has been perfect or even close to it. I’ve had my fair share of nights spent at the Heartbreak Hotel, but rather than wallow, I tried to tuck those experiences away, knowing that one day they’d make for some pretty good stories.

Gather round, and I’ll tell you one of those stories. I had a lot of ‘boyfriends’ in high school — some were fine, some we’re pretty good, and some I really liked! But at 17, I was more interested in making sure I saw the newest episode of One Tree Hill than building a substantial, meaningful relationship. That said, it was always nice to have someone in the bull pen when the situation called for it — like Valentine’s Day. Sure these relationships were formative, but mostly they were fun. They were cute, they were nice. There was a lot of hand-holding and boys picking me up in their cars and always bringing me back home by 10 p.m. Sure they were my buddies and we all made out a little bit, but I was in it for the free Chili’s and the obligatory V-Day themed gifts. This isn’t to say I didn’t have feelings for these guys, it’s just to say that perhaps I wasn’t even in touch with myself enough yet to really understand them.
On Valentine’s Day during my junior year of high school, I spent most of the day ruminating about the perfect mix CD I’d made for my then-boyfriend. The CD was a beautiful balance of under-the-radar emo music, which was of central focus in our relationship, and Maroon 5. I also thought a lot about the gorgeous red tulips that I knew would be waiting for me when I got home. I’d told all my friends about how we were going to spend the evening eating something fancy over candlelight and drinking mocktails. I was positive he’d planned something special. In retrospect maybe I was more in love with romance than I was with him.
I came home and did in fact find the beautiful red tulips I was expecting (cha-ching!) along with a couple of cards from my puppy-lover. I opened the paper card from the florist first and smiled to myself after reading the message. “Happy Valentine’s Day, beautiful! Can’t wait to take you out tonight!” 
I then read his hand-written note, which sparked feelings of a rather different sort.
It read: “Dear Megan, I really hate to do this, but I can’t go out with you tonight. Or ever . . . ”

For a while I stood there, question-mark flatlining, assuming it to be a joke. Of course in my gut I knew that it wasn’t, and the rest of the note went on to explain how he couldn’t be my boyfriend anymore because he was totally sure that I was in love with his best friend. The tumults of young love.
I called my own best friend, crying over the unfairness of it all. How could he do this to me? Doesn’t he know how I feel? Where did he even get that idea? He can’t just end things?! DOESN’T HE KNOW IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY?
Like a good friend, she found the positives in the situation: namely, that at least the two of us could spend the holiday together.
Valentine’s Day really didn’t end up being so bad that year. My boyfriend and I ended up working through it and making up over pizza. But what that experience taught me was that even without the romance in my life I still had my forever Valentine: my bestie.
After we hung up I went over to her house and we sat on the floor of her bedroom pigging out on heart shaped candy, and daydreaming about what our one-day forever Valentines might be like. We promised ourselves the Valentines of our future would make our hearts skip a bit, that we’d be in the relationship for a lot more than the free Chili’s, that maybe he’d like fine wine, and he’d definitely love wings. Maybe we’d meet on a train or in some foreign city. It took us a few years, but we both ended up finding that kind of love we were looking for. Love built on feelings rather than just ideas of romantic gestures.
Since that memorable day, I’ve gone on to enjoy many more pleasurable Valentine’s Days — some with people I really care about, some spent with all my best ‘Galentines,’ some in love, some alone. I tell you this story just so you can hear that even getting dumped via florist card on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean the day has gone to pot. At the time I felt like nothing could be worse. But fast forward an hour and I was chowing down on all my favorite candies with my BFF. And in that moment, nothing could have ever been better.
[Image via Shutterstock]
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