Love can and should be expressed freely, even if to strangers.

It’s Valentine’s day, and I am walking to work thinking about ideas I have for the Love First storytelling platform I want to create in the future, when a woman walks out of Sightglass Coffee carrying a bundle of roses.

Bright pink roses; the exact same shade and color of the shirt I’m wearing, which is my new, very “on brand” button-down shirt I recently bought for all my public Love First activities. Except right now, I’m wearing it for a special Valentine’s date tonight.

“Your flowers match my shirt!” I yell out to her.

She turns around and looks at me, then asks: “Do you want one?”

“Oh, no, I was just saying they match my shirt,” and I take two more steps. Then I remember tonight’s plans, and showing up with a pink rose would be totally cute and fitting. My date and I are leaning into the corniness of this Hallmark holiday, so I may as well go all the way.

“Actually… yes! How much are they?”

“Oh, no need, you can just have one.”

I stare at her in surprise. “What? Are you sure? I’m happy to pay!”

“Yeah it’s okay, here…” And she pulls out a beautiful rose, then tells me she works at a flower shop. “I like just giving them out to people on days like today.”

Right then I already know I’m going to write this up as a little story later and I at least want to give credit for this lovely gift, so I ask which flower shop. “So I can mention it and help promote.”

“Oh that’s sweet of you, okay, it’s [Farmgirl Flowers].”

“Farmgirl, got it! Do you have a Facebook page?”

“No… just say Bah [pronounced Bae] of Farmgirls gave it to you.”

“Your gifting is a beautiful thing, thank you so very much.”

Then she pulls out a little tube to put at the bottom of the stem that holds water, to keep it fresh. My heart quietly sings.

“I like giving them especially to old ladies, you know?”

“Absolutely. Thank you again for your gift, it’s truly wonderful.”

And with that I continue on my way. When I walk into ImpactHub, the coworking office I work out of, my friend Alex sits at the front desk and beams a smile at me, commenting on my matching bright pink rose and shirt. “Today is basically your company’s official holiday, isn’t it?”

“It kinda is,” I laugh, and tell her the story of how I was gifted this rose on my way in. Her radiant smile is melted by the heartwarming tale of this gift.

“You need to do a little photo shoot with this rose today,” she says.

“Going to do that right now!”

I walk up to the third floor and settle into a spot. After putting my things down I look for a vase or bottle for the rose, and right as I start to take photos, Alex walks up carrying a big box that had just arrived.

“Look! I had to show this to you before I deliver them! How perfect is this?”

I look at the box, and on each side it reads in big, beautiful type: Farmgirl Flowers.

It is perfect. It’s also exactly the kind of Love First-driven serendipity I’ve been experiencing more and more of in my life ever since I started on this journey.

Pink rose in front of Farmgirl box

After taking the photos accompanying this story (and telling it to several other Hub members), I take a moment to truly appreciate the beauty of this gift. Because this rose is so much more than a flower; it’s a reminder that Valentine’s Day does not have to be about the big and special love we reserve exclusively to our romantic relationship partners in life. It can also be small and come in the form of a tiny act or gift. Love can and should be shared freely, with family and lovers yes, but also with our friends, with coworkers, and with strangers on the street.

Love, and the generous expression of it, is the beating heart of a healthy society.

Not everyone is in a romantic relationship. Some people are single and happy about it; others, not so much. Some people are in relationships but unhappy. But all of them, you and everyone else, is worthy of love. And you deserve to love yourself unconditionally, regardless of your relationship status. You deserve to know that you are loved and worthy of love regardless of it coming from someone special in your life who provides it explicitly.

So this is for you: my love, for your humanity, shared through a story. May it remind you that love can be freely given to strangers, as unconditionally as a rose.

You are loved.

Faruk with the pink rose

Photo credit: Faruk Ateş