Despite my regard for CVS Caremark in its recent decisions to no longer sell cigarettes, CVS has the most inefficient coupon system in the world. Why can't those Extrabucks be banked on your card, the way that Starbucks and other more "with-it" retailers bank their stars and rewards?
At any rate, when I do have Extrabucks coupons and don't need to use them to buy more paper towels or toothpaste, I spend them on magazines I enjoy but wouldn't normally buy. Stopping by CVS last week in the treacherous snow and feeling nostalgic for my fall trip to Charleston and Durham, I used my $4.00 coupon to buy the most recent issue of Southern Living.
Flipping through the pages, I saw a killer grits recipe I'll have to try when I have a friend over for dinner next Friday, a highly compelling vacation offer in the Blue Ridge mountains, and a decent interview with Jennifer Nettles. But it was an article near the end of the magazine that put the "extra" in my Extrabucks purchase that day.
The author of the article was reflecting on her experiences of Valentine's Day from high school. Year after year, a classmate of hers, Faith, was showered with tokens of affection from her peers as part of her school's "Secret Valentine" activities. Faith (as I imagine, obliviously, but not necessarily maliciously), asked if she could put some of her Valentine spoils on the desk of the author, who received nary a single piece of chocolate ("None for Gretchen Weiners. Bye!")
All I was thinking was, "Girl, if I were there, I'd get you a whole box and a Curious George Valentine card to boot. I love you and no one should feel that way."
I continued to read, and by the end of the short article, I was alone in my apartment giving a standing ovation to this woman's father, who consoled the author with the plain and powerful observation:
"Faith Sawyer wasn't more loved. She just got more candy."
That wisdom isn't just good for February 14. It's good for every birthday when you're unwittingly measuring your self-worth based on how many people texted or called you or wished you well on Facebook. It's good for every moment you've thought yourself lesser than someone else--or even better than someone else. Just remember: today, you "just got more candy," some momentary visible or tangible token of esteem. It was good for me to remember as I opened my mailbox today and only received a promotional letter asking me to sign up for a Discover credit card.
Love with a capital 'L' beats out chocolate or cut flowers--but you have to have faith that it's still there, even if it's invisible. The whole invisibility thing is annoying, but it's much less annoying than a really bad sugar headache.
So in the spirit of Love, I spent this V-day by treating myself to a new pair of sunglasses--the first pair I've ever owned that was remotely fashionable and cost more than $15, conversations with good friends over phone and interwebs, and making a terrifying but promising business decision that has already lifted my heart and spirit. I was also challenged by a friend to get a dozen roses and give them to complete strangers on Valentine's Day, but since all the stores are out of just about every type of colorful flower, I'm going to be giving out homemade chocolate truffles to strangers on the T and on Mass Ave as I walk to a party in Cambridge in a few moments.
If you're reading this, no matter who's with you or without you, I love you. And since sometimes all we want is just a little bit candy, if you were here with me right now, be assured, I would make you some candy. <3