Slowly entering the crowded hospital elevator with a glass vase of roses in each hand, I could hear the barely audible sighs of the nurses and techs for whom these weren’t intended.
“9th floor, please,” murmured over a grin to the wide eyed lady in scrubs nearest the buttons.
“Whoever works up there, let me tell you, she’s one lucky lady.”
“Well, I don’t know them, but I’m sure this might brighten their day. I’m just here to deliver some happiness and smiles,” I say for the dozenth time, still making myself chuckle at the notion that for the briefest of moments I look like I’m either madly in love or in really, really deep trouble. I’ve been both, but not today. Today I’m just the courier of physical declarations of love exchanged between couples and those who would be, a forty year old cupid in a vest and tie willing to banter with total strangers in random business locations across the city.
“You’re certainly dressed the part”
“Thanks! Might as well try to look your best if you’re gonna cheer someone up!”
The ladies look longingly at the flowers, the men look bewildered and confused, their minds running through their calendars….“it’s only the 13th, right? RIGHT? I still have time! I STILL HAVE TIME, DAMMIT!!! PANIC!!!!” I exit on the 9th floor, and again, present two ladies at the nearest workstation with a dozen floral gestures of romance each, a card that insists that says that they are, indeed, the best, and the men who did this are, indeed, the luckiest in the world, and they just want to say as much. It’s a sweet gesture that while originated in the hallways of a greeting card company so many years ago, endures as a means for the non-romantics of this world to shine for a day, to prove that they do, indeed, cherish that person in their life.
It’s a good part of why I signed up with my friend to deliver flowers for a local grocery chain (that would be the guy in the pic above, for those of you keeping score at home). I could use the money, I’m not on shift, and a chance to participate in bringing some happiness on a day when it’s just too easy to remember you’re not one half of a couple, well, it all just seemed to make sense to pick up this gig. Lots of firefighters do this, and floral shops like it because we have a basic knowledge of our city layout, we’re used to driving, um, efficiently across town, avoiding traffic and we’re generally reliable people who will put forth an honest effort. I could use the chance to smile. I could stand to see others smile around me. It was an easy “yes” when asked if I was interested in the job.
And so it went, all day. And so I’ll put the tie on again today and spend my time driving around a carload of beautiful floral displays, happy to avoid the ghosts rattling around my own home, the sounds of unrequited love deafening in their silence. I’ll stay off of social media for the most part, because while it makes me glad to see so many in love eager to show off the efforts of their other halves, constant reminders of my own journey can be something of a gentle slap of reality. I hope, deep down, that these guys for whom I am delivering small & expensive tokens of their affection remember to cherish that love on the 15th, and every day after. Many won’t and will take for granted that warm sense deep within their souls that can only come from having another to complement their lives, to truly have their backs in all seasons. But because I am a hopeless fool, I try to believe that most will cherish that love. It brings me a meter of comfort to know that love flows throughout our journeys in life, whether they be in the form of a dozen roses or your best friend keeping you company late into the night as you wrap your arms around your knees when your world gets rocked to its core, and there are no words to aptly describe your bottomless pain. We just need to recognize it in all its forms.
Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters sings in their classic song “Times Like These”,
“It’s times like these/ you learn to live again/
It’s times like these/ you give and give again/
It’s times like these/ you learn to love again/
It’s times like these/ time and time again”
What a fantastic opportunity before us today, February 14th, to love again. For those already there, don’t limit your chance to offer your heart up tomorrow, too. And, daily. For those of us on the outside there is nothing more powerful than the yen to have someone special into whom we can pour our creative souls, someone who possesses the unique ability to make our heart sing when they enter the room. I know this. I’ve been there, and right now I’m not. I’m where the universe thinks I should be, and to surrender to that is a liberating and lonely yield. But? I haven’t given up hope, I don’t think I ever can. The one to whom my soul sings may one day return the chorus, or, maybe not. For now, I am content to learn to live again. I am willing to learn to love again, someday. Time and time again.
And that is how I can smile all day long, delivering red-petaled gifts between people I’ll never know. To be a witness to the endless dance between men and women as their hearts and passion drive this crazy world round and round gives my heart hope, indeed. As well it should yours.
Here’s to love. Here’s to hope. Here’s to hoping maybe I’ll see you today as I make my rounds with another dozen flowers. Promise I’ll make you smile.
Watch it here:
Times Like These (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XuWF0BBQb0