I woke up on my second day in Scotland refreshed and ready to take on the world. It was my first full day in Edinburgh, so I was excited to fully begin the adventure. I hopped out of my squeaky hostel bed, grabbed my phone and toiletry bag, and headed off to the washroom to get ready for the day.
This was my second solo world trip, and after plenty of mishaps the first go-around, I was feeling much more confident and capable this trip. Nothing could bring me down! Until I looked at my phone.
The day was Valentine’s Day. (Yes, I know it is a bit of a BS “holiday,” but bear with me). When many of my friends were back home in the USA with husbands, fiancés, boyfriends, and some even with kids of their own, I was traveling and very, VERY single. Typically, I am one of those girls that are happy in a relationship, but also happy when single. I have always been a “go with the flow” of life’s ups and downs kind of person, but for some reason the stark contrast between the path I had chosen for my life verse what of many of my friends were doing hit me like a ton of bricks that morning.
At a bit of a slower pace and with a tinge of sadness, I decided to get breakfast and sit out on the hostel terrace instead of rushing to get out the door to explore.
As I munched on some toast and tea, I noticed couples on the stairway leading up to Edinburgh Castle. They were trying to take selfies, or putting their phone propped up somewhere awkward with a timer on and running to take a photo. To say they were STRUGGLING to capture the moment would be an understatement!
Then it hit me – I did not have to be alone and melancholy all day. In that very moment, I decided I was going to be the (unofficial) Valentine’s Day photographer of Edinburgh for anyone and everyone who would let me! With the same vigor I had originally awoken with, I sped through breakfast, washed my dishes in the hostel kitchen, and dashed upstairs to my dorm room to get ready. I put on the prettiest outfit I had and some red lipstick, and off I went!
My Valentine’s Day
Let me tell you, I had the best day. I felt so much love from people I didn’t even know, some I couldn’t even speak the same language as! Granted, in my “normal” life I am not always outgoing and talkative, especially with strangers, but that day, it felt as if I had absolutely nothing to lose. I approached every interaction that day with the cliché saying of “strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” That confidence, I believe, is why not a single person I offered to take a photo of turned down the gesture. If I saw anyone trying to take a selfie or set their camera on a timer, I would offer to take a photo, or a hundred!
One elderly couple was there on their honeymoon. They had been married for 45 years but never had the chance to take a trip. They carried a professional camera the sweet husband had purchased just for their trip; sadly they couldn’t figure out how to use. After some initial coaxing and promises that they were not spoiling my entire day, we spent a full hour taking photos. We could have fooled any passerby that I was an actual hired photographer and they had just fallen in love for the first time.
To this day, I still treasure spending that day helping other people capture their memories of love; I hope those people have a beautiful photo to treasure, too.
This is the only photo I was in the entire Valentine’s Day, and I don’t regret it one bit:
What began as a day I viewed with a tinge of scorn turned out to be the best Valentine’s Day I have had, single or in a relationship.
There is so much love in this world; you just have to be willing to put yourself out there to find it.
About Shelby: At home in Houston, TX, Shelby is an event planner by day, and a dog rescuer and political activist for the animals by night.