I can still tell you where she sat in homeroom, the exact seat in the exact row of Rm. 110. There you could find her, her heart sunken into the deepest recesses of her acidic stomach, waiting to see if the annual delivery of flowers from The Boy's Schools would net her a wrinkled carnation.
It would not. Which she had known all along. She would not boast a flower or a bouquet like the other bouquet-hoarding betties who would tote theirs for the rest of the day to class. Some with the pristine white box, tied with a red ribbon, "It was TOO BIG to fit into my locker!" Such a problem to have.
Nevermind the boy that she was seeing. What a loaded verb in the present perfect that is in high school. Seeing. Later she would see how he would take her co-worker from Dairy Queen to the prom. She would see how it was.
I used to identify with this girl, this girl of my 17 years, waiting...waiting...like the soreheart being assured in "Love Will Come to You" by the Indigo Girls. I used to be able to conjure up the visceral Valentine's Day of high school, feeling that acidic heart-stomach organ pumping hard for the want of a flower from a boy.
And it's not that I no longer remember what it was like now that I have a Valentine plucked from the top shelf. It's just that I choose to step out of history so that I am never the tarrying girl again.
I want to tell that girl in waiting that love will come, but in the meantime, you must STOP so you can start. Stop waiting to be loved. And start living, actually living in the light of love.
I wish so much that I had done something that day other than tarry. I wish I had baked some brownies for the school janitor or filled a cranky teacher's mailbox with popcorn or sent a college student a care package full of Garbage Pail Kids cards and gummi bears.
*** I think the experience of waiting must be so different for high school students now. There is probably an app for it. There are probably preemptive texts and Facebook tips leading up the Valetine's Day. "I sent you a flower." I don't know that I would trade realities, especially since the outcome would likely be no different. I only want to train my children to be busy with living and loving; it's so much better than sitting in the waiting room.