Valentine's Day for One This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 1, 2013
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I am going to share a fact about myself: I have never been on a date on Valentine's Day. This year, I decided to break the lonely streak and take myself out. I borrowed my sister's hottest dress, slipped on my highest heels, and curled my hair up all pretty. At 7:19 p.m. on February 14, I opened my own car door and was off on my date.

“How many tonight?” the hostess asked when I arrived at Bob Evans, the only restaurant I would consider for a fancy date.

“Just one,” I told her, and she led me to a table near the back. I noticed that there were mostly middle-aged couples and a few families. Right away I felt out of place at my family-sized table.

“Just by yourself tonight?” my waitress asked when she came to introduce herself. It seemed like everyone wanted to point out my solitude, but I didn't mind. Even as I waited for my dinner, sitting and staring awkwardly at my silverware, with the best hot chocolate in the world steaming at my fingertips, I was oddly happy, despite the stares from other tables.

I enjoyed my meal – as I always do at Bob's – and when I was done, my waitress left my bill and a to-go box, and wished me a good night. But this was not our last farewell. She returned to my table a couple minutes later and ripped up my bill. My lonely status must have sparked compassion in one of the other patrons – someone had paid my bill!

Shocked and deeply touched, I looked around, searching for the generous party, but she told me they had already left. I thanked her profusely, although she was not the rightful recipient of my gratitude. (If you're reading this and you paid the bill for a girl in a purple dress and red heels at Bob Evans, thank you for making my first Valentine's Day date unforgettable.)

Next, I traveled to the mall, which was not as busy as I expected. A few couples wandered around with hands intertwined while I had mine folded in front of me. One girl with her boyfriend at her hip – who either felt bad for me or was truly amazed by my physique – told me that I had “really nice legs.” This, of course, provoked my supermodel strut as I continued my walk.

The small confidence boost wore off and I began feeling lonely again. I decided to go to Payless. What better way to pick a girl up than shoe shopping? Surrounded again by pairs, I tried not to mind. All the pretty colors and sparkling patterns soon helped me forget my solitude, and I had fun trying on seven-inch bright blue heels that I thought made my legs look really nice.

The cinema was my final destination on my date. I bought my ticket. (“Yes, just one, please, for ‘Safe Haven.'”) That's right: I went to see a Nicholas Sparks movie on my date for one.

I found a seat between two couples and looked around only to find the theater filled with my classmates. Great, I thought. Will I ever live this down? One classmate came up to me and asked if I was waiting for someone. “No, I'm here alone,” I replied. She laughed, assuming I was joking, but I just smiled.

“Safe Haven” was everything a romance film should be and more. As the main characters started to fall in love under the beautiful skies of North Carolina, my lonely heart began to tighten. Despite my efforts to prove to myself that I could have a good time alone on Valentine's Day, I was not having fun. Thanks to Sparks's well-crafted love story, I felt the sting of loneliness like a blow to the chest. Where were my flowers? My chocolates? My kiss in the rain? My hand to hold? Where was my Romeo?

The tears finally fell when “She Will Be Loved” came on the radio during my drive home. I couldn't pull off this Valentine's Day for one. Valentine's Day is meant for two people who care about each other to spend an evening together enjoying each other's company. It's meant for sharing a popcorn and watching a stupid chick-flick so you can snuggle up close at the romantic parts. It's for buying her flowers because you know she'll think of you every time she sees them. It's for being together and growing in love.

The people who paid my bill at Bob Evans were probably thinking, No one should have to spend Valentine's Day alone, but I'm glad I tried it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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