I Tried to Hate Christmas

It snowed for the first (real) time in New York on Saturday.

I woke up hazily hungover and tired, wondering how I’d ever make it to midtown east for Lucy’s vet appointment when my mouth still tasted like red wine. My little pup blended in with my comforter, snuggled between my feet like she likes to do, and I laid in bed, listening to the quiet. I relished in those peaceful, stolen moments before I have to force myself out of bed and into the chaos below. My room was colder than usual, only warmed by the bright white glow outside, and I opened the curtains just enough to inquire about the weather.. and there they were:

Perfect, fragile snowflakes, falling gracefully to the ground I can’t see below.

I watched them build up on the rooftops and though I’m 20 years too old to get so excited over such little things, I smiled and eagerly told Lucy it was snowing. She licked my face and went back to sleep, unimpressed and obviously not-human. I didn’t care though – I slung on my boots and dressed her in a (probably not necessary) coat and outside we went to see the snow.

As I walked down to the friendly Starbucks that lets me bring her inside when it’s cold, I kicked the snow underneath my feet and I laughed as Lucy played with it, hopping on the small piles and seeing the flakes flutter on her nose. The upper west side was alive and happy, excited for this wintery-mix that makes this dirty, darkened city seem more pure, more hopeful than before.

And like the snow lightened the push-and-the-shove of Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens, and maybe even New Jersey), it did the same for me. I’ve been adamantly against Christmas this year. In fact, I was so not looking forward to this time of year that I convinced myself that I wouldn’t be full of the holiday spirit, instead, I’d be a scrooge. I’d hate Christmas with all of my might.

After such a difficult year, with so much bad and so little good, why would I invest my heart and my expectations in December? Why would I think that the end of the year would be any better than the rest of it? Why waste money on decorations and holiday cards, postage and gifts, if in the end, I’d be miserably humming around a fake Christmas tree, mulling over everything I didn’t have? Over everything that didn’t happen or unfortunately did happen?

Why celebrate 2013 at all?

Maybe it was the snowflakes – or how the shift in the seasons shifted something for me, too, but I couldn’t keep my love of the holidays at bay. I couldn’t be negative about it. Even though New York and I have had our trials this year, the city wouldn’t let me forget about Christmas. Not with it’s street fairs and it’s subway performers singing “My Favorite Things.” Not with it’s lights and it’s weather, it’s people dressed in puffy coats and stockings from head-to-toe. Not with smiling kids and (surprisingly) grinning adults, even with it’s happy tourists seeing this place I call home for the first time, in the snow. Not with Macy’s windows and Fifth Avenue shops, not with splitting a bottle of wine with my friend in a cozy Parisian restaurant in the West Village. Not with all the truly magical parts of New York – from people to places and everything in between – that seem to glow with those silly white lights at this special time of year.

Though things haven’t quite gone my way and I’ve had more learning pains than triumphs this year, it only gives me better reason to show my thanks at Christmas and as 2014 begins. It might not have been the easiest of months, but they were necessary to teach me something. To be stronger and to take more chances. To believe in things that you can’t feel, see or imagine. To trust in something bigger than you, some force that you might not always believe in. To know that everything has it’s time and it’s place, that we will figure it out as we go, if we have enough hope to see it through.

I wanted to hate Christmas this year, I really did. But I don’t. I can’t. I won’t…

I sent out 50 holiday cards.

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E hosted (yet another) amazing Thanksgiving dinner.

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My friend A came to visit.

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I made a wreath (for $10!).

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My roommates put up a tree and I hung stockings.

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Lucy got a new red coat.

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And a new pillow (thanks Pottery Barn!)

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J threw quite the party with some deadly jingle juice.

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I shopped for Christmas gifts with M while looking at a lovely view.

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iVillage named me the Best Party Planner at our holiday party.

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This is my view while writing this blog.

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And best of all… my family will be here in less than a week for our very first Christmas in New York City.

I might not be exactly where I thought I’d be at the end of 2013, but I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, learning what I need to know. And maybe one day, I’ll have a Christmas with a man I love, watching the children we made open presents in a home or apartment we bought together. Maybe I’ll have the best year yet in 2014, maybe it’ll be harder than all the rest. Maybe I’ll move abroad, maybe I’ll keep falling back in love with New York.

Maybe it all doesn’t matter – as long as I’m thankful enough to realize that regardless of how it all turns out or what I have, I’m so incredibly blessed. And so very loved.

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From Me to You on Christmas Day

For each and every time you’ve clicked on this blog. For when you stayed up past your bedtime to read my words. For when you took time out of your day to write me a kind e-mail, a long Facebook note or send a supportive tweet. For following my journey while going about your own. For being there through each triumph and every heartbreak. For the words of encouragement and sharing your own wisdom, stories and experiences. For reminding me of what’s important by simply commenting or passing along my link to your friends. For being part of this blog  for the past 15 months.

For making sure that no matter what, regardless of any disappointment or shortcoming, I never gave up on love – both in myself, in those I know and those I’ve yet to meet.

On Christmas and always, thank you for being part of this life-changing experience. It may only be a blog, but for me, it’s meant everything. And so have each and every one of you.

I hope today is magical for you and yours, and that your New Year brings the best of happiness, of success, of wonder, of friendships, of travels and…

of love.

May you never stop believing in the magic of your own strength and beauty,

Lindsay 

The Love Addict Who Just Won’t Stop Writing :)

We Were Just Beginning

In the home I grew up in, the love flows just as steadily as the wine. My dad still looks across the living room at my mom (who is pulling up the corner of her cheeks while talking about her fantasy face lift) and says, “Honey, you’re beautiful. You don’t need that.” In this house that’s a few right turns off of the main road that leads into town, my dog thinks I’m a better person than I really am. In this place, where my room is almost empty, minus some books and bedding, is frozen back in time when I loved playing tennis and hung up pictures of the city I wanted to call home.

And those photos are now sights I could see anytime I wanted. They are only a train ride away and some are views I see each and everyday. I made it to New York and I survived it – or as my friend E says, it let me stay. There is no secret to “making it” in Manhattan, it kicks out those who don’t belong pretty quickly.

But when I’m back in North Carolina, when my pace slows down, when I sit around talking astrology and dreams with my mom, when my dad brings me a heating pad and pillow to curl up with because my stomach hurts, when I walk out of the kitchen and return to find all of my dishes put away, I’m reminded of the place that grew me. The people who loved me enough to let me chase that brilliant ambition that is now my reality. The sense of longing that I used to feel while lying in this bed, looking out at the fog sweeping the mountaintops is gone – and in its place, I feel peace.

I feel this sweet surrender inside of my heart that for the first time, maybe ever, I’m just content. The journals I filled with wishes and hopes, are now subway stops and memories. The stories I used to store in a shoebox are now archived on WordPress and countless other publications I still can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to write for. Those magazine clippings of inspirational quotes and couples snuggling on the couch are now my own sayings and my own snapshots of the men I’ve loved.

Really, there was nothing this Christmas that I wanted or needed other than to hop a flight back to where the wildflowers grow, the sound of silence echoes pleasantly from hill-to-hill, and sweet tea is within driving distance. And thanks to this blog and all of the wonderful people I’ve met in New York, being a single gal for the holidays feels more natural to me than bringing home a love that wasn’t meant to last.

Sitting around with a group of my friends tonight at the annual Christmas potluck while I’m in town, I thought about where we were: single and striving, learning and loving, letting go and being brave enough to hold on, chasing dreams and their origins, starting all over again and putting together pieces, realizing we’re finally adults and wondering what that really means. Looking at their faces and hearing their stories that while we may have different zip codes, sound scarily similar, munching on sausage balls I pretended had zero calories, I thought about how we all worry about what the future holds.

There is so much more life ahead of us than what we’ve experienced. There is room to reach so many more goals. Chances to love someone more than we’ve ever loved before. Opportunities to see the world and to reveal a world inside ourselves we never knew. Experiences that will test and try us as much as they teach and taunt us. Mortgages and babies who will call us “Mom”, Christmases that will one day mean more to us than seeing our old friends and feeling fancy cooking our family the Eggs Florentine we discovered in the city. Lifelong friendships that only become stronger with age and men who think we’re radiant despite our age.

It’s hard, I think, as a 20-something to see an existence outside of the current one. We’re busy coming and going, figuring out what we want and how to get it, dating and mating, relating and playing, attempting to save money and determining how much we need to put into our 401ks when really, 45 seems old, never mind 65 when we actually see the account. Everything seems so far away, so not-something-I-need-to-think-about right now, something that I’ll address later when I’m ready, later when I’m older, when I’m settled, when I have it all together. We can’t see our children’s faces or truly believe deep into our bones that yes, one day, one man, will be different and it all won’t be so complicated. We can’t see that house or the playground behind it, the successful career that we worked so hard to achieve at its very peak, we can’t see the impressions we leave on others or imagine our beautiful, youthful friends with wrinkles around their eyes.

But before we know it – or so I’m told anyway – one day, we’ll wake up and our realities will be different. The ways we find peace will be new. Our intentions humble, our pace slower, the things that make us happy, simpler. We’ll look back on these days, where we roamed wild and free, dabbling in this while dabbling in that, fretting over being a size 6, crying over a guy who we won’t remember in the long run, drinking more champagne and coffee than what’s healthy while soaking up sun, and wonder why we took it for granted. We’ll look back and remember all of those Christmases – from being children to having our own, and be amazed at how much things change, how much we change, how much the world continues to change before we’ve caught up to it.

And we’ll wonder how we didn’t see that then, sitting around that table with our friends, talking about how old we feel at the ripe age of mid-twenties, that really, we were just beginning.

Merry Christmas, With Love

Maybe it is under the mistletoe or under the tree. Maybe it is in the eyes of your grandmother who giggles at the slightest joke. Maybe it is in watching your mom so thrilled to give you a gift she knows you’ll love. Maybe it is your dad’s awful singing as he carves the ham in the kitchen. Maybe it is in your puppy’s excitement as she “opens” her Christmas present well before the actual day comes. Maybe it is in the hopes you have for the holidays to come with your Mr. Right and the children that you can’t imagine their faces, but one day, will look up at you with rosy cheeks and excited eyes.

Maybe we all long for that romantic love, for a man with a big jacket for us to stick our cold hands in, and somehow feel that magic with someone…and it not to go away. But maybe in all of our desiring, all of our hoping, all of our dreaming – we lose sight of the fact that love is truly everywhere. And many of us, even though we’d rather tell Santa to bring us a man instead of another scarf or necklace, forget that the true blessing of the season doesn’t come from a person, but from ourselves.

I’m under the belief that much of our happiness and our sadness is direcly correlated to the decisions we make. When we’re feeling down-in-the-dumps about a relationship that could have been that now never will or upset with the universe for leaving us alone, again, at Christmas – to snap out of the rut, it really is our choice. No present with a red bow or apple pie can turn it around for us – no matter how many we rip open or bites we take.

So while I’m recovering from food poisioning and wasn’t exactly able to overeat on Christmas Eve as I usually do, and even though things with Mr. Possibility have become quite shaky in the last few days – I’m making a decision – or rather, a demand on myself – to choose to keep the Christmas spirit. To not let any illness or emotional rollercoaster take away from the brilliance, from the wonder, the beauty that this special time brings.

In celebration of all things love, I must share my blog lovers: those men and women who are such avid supporters of what I write and my journey. Of those who comment and click, tweet, and tumble, and keep me motivated and encouraged – no matter what is going on in my life.

So while you’re recovering from a food-coma and getting up entirely too early or spending way too much time with extended family members – take a stop by these blogs to meet my “love addicts” who are truly a blessing in my life. I’m so thankful for each of you.

Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours, with love:

Courting Adell

DearExGirlfriend

From Falling Water

Medaniellemarie

Tallbrewnette

Jenn’s Blog

Binary Boyfriend

Cat’s City Life

Leila Castaneda

Kternes

iTiffTaffTuff

Kacey R. Wherley

BeReal BeHappy

From the Mind of Moose

Life of Sarah

Michelle Joni

Ahuvah Berger

Alesya Bags

Kuldeep Brar

Eternally Single Kelly

The Blind Leading the Blonde

Allison Gee

Opportunity Speaks

Jenny MD

Flickery

Lexamantis’s Blog

Bookspotting

Small Things. Big Dreams.

Simply Solo

Gathers No Moss

I Won’t Go Back to How it Was

To Be Incognito

Shay Rae’s Diary

Shades of Bright

Trains and Sunsets

Ever Perceived

Little Miss Graham

Lucy’s Entries

The Good, the Bad & The Kitsch

Lynaima’s Blog

Divorcing Mr. Wrong

Live for Each Moment

Slam Dunks

It’s The Pits

A Love Train

In Search of Serene

Food Law

Ava Aston

She Who Will Be Tamed?

If I missed you, please know I still appreciate your support. Shoot me an email and I’ll add you!


Toxic Emotions

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the young woman home from NYC, hugging a toilet, and trying to figure out if she had bad tacos or caught a stomach virus.

Merry Christmas to me!

I’m a terrible sick person because no matter how independent, how successful, how self-sufficient, when I’m sick- I turn into a big, pathetic, baby. Growing up, when I would throw up or find myself feeling absolutely awful – I wanted my yellow blanket, orange juice brought to me, lots of sleep and cuddling, and to get the sickness over with as soon as possible. I can remember crying as I laid on the floor, praying that there was nothing left for me to heave up, and for me to feel a little less rumble so I could just sleep.

Now, as I lay in bed, water and trashcan by my side, trying to write as coherently as possible in between trips to the bathroom, I notice that for the first time, I don’t want any help. My parents have asked repeatably if they can bring me anything, if they can hold my hair, if they can get medicine for me, or if they can lay with me until I fall asleep. And to each response, I’ve thanked them and begged them to just leave me alone.

Sometimes, when you feel the need to let all of your messiness, all of your imperfections, all of your fears, all of everything in your tummy – the last thing you want is the company or audience of another person. When working through and processing all of our personal toxins – the best place to be is alone.

A huge portion of this journey to self-love has been learning to fall in love with who I am – even when I’m not on my A-game. When I take two steps back instead of one forward. When I allow my insecurities to rule my alluring characteristics. When I blame myself for things that are beyond my control and entirely not my fault. When what I bring to the table isn’t as substantial as what I hoped.

And weeding through the field of self-defeating and destructive mentalities has proven to be a job for no one else but myself. Often times, when we’re entering into new relationships, when we’re dating the trenches of men who come and go effortlessly – we are ignoring all of the muck we need to deal with before bringing someone into the mix.

While it is nice to have someone to pat our backs, tell us we’re wonderful and all is well, and hold us tight until we feel better – unless we sincerely release all that is brewing inside of us – we’ll never make progress in self-love or in romantic love. Because no matter how hard we try to prevent it or hope it won’t come – eventually, those toxins will take over and demand to leave. And more times than not – they will be spewing all over someone who didn’t create them in the first place.

Maybe it is growing up or developing coping skills, or this journey that continuously surprises me –  but even though I can barely keep my head above the covers to type these words, my stomach is as empty as it has been in a long time, and I can’t seem to get warm – I’m glad I don’t have someone here to trying to soothe me. And not because I’m vain or afraid of looking vulnerable – but rather, when dealing with sickness (in whatever form) independently, there comes a sense of power.

A certain strength that makes me realize I can handle most anything that comes my way, that my imperfections are my own and merely needed to be accepted by me, and that if there was a reason for it to come up, I should deal with it in a way that makes me healthier.

And most importantly, it gives me the peace of mind that almost all difficulties and bad chemicals are only temporary – that once all is gone, accepted, and I’m able to stand again, the feelings or the pain that got me so down or made me hug a toilet – were just meant to teach me something.

To help me let go of the icky, so I can find the promising. And for now, the thing that sounds the most beautiful is taking a nice long sleep with prayers that all is gone, and Christmas will be stomach-bug/food-poisoning free.

All the (Uncensored) Single Ladies

Last night, I held a holiday potluck with my friends from high school and college at my house to reconnect, catch up, and share the exciting stories of our current adventures. As guests gradually rolled in, along with the beer and the wine, our conversation turned more towards old school truth-or-dare and the drinking games we all hope we’ll grow tired of, but never quite do.

As we went around the table, each sharing pieces of our most embarrassing, most scandalous, and well, most entertaining moments in recent history – I noticed a very distinctive divide between the couples and the singles.

While the pairs stood or sat next to one another, sharing private conversations, and exchanging glances, the singles were busy mingling with the rest of the party (including my parents who joined in), and they were not being controlled or concerned by someone else. When it came time to answer the questions that sometimes don’t have the most flattering answers or do-a-little-dance to stir up some giggles – the couples refrained from participating and kept to themselves, in whatever alternate universe they were part of in my kitchen. I wasn’t invited and would have declined invitation, if I was.

And while I understand that to be in a successful partnership, you must always think of your counterpart – what irked me was the two friends with their boyfriends (one I’ve known for 13 years, another since day-one of college) – were not acting like themselves. They were guarded. Protective. Holding extremely back. Not being true to the women I know them to be. Hiding the parts of themselves that are so endearing, so powerful, so radiant.

To be frank – they were so censored.

Now – regardless of how hard we try or how much we hope or strive to relate to our lady-friends who are giddily in love or happily wed, there is always a difference in our experiences. And especially in our day-to-day.  Though they may have been there before, walking in our single shoes,  somehow- something changes when you get into a relationship. Priorities, along with viewpoints and schedules, gradually transform as the Mr becomes more prominent, and suddenly every word out of your gal pal’s mouth is about him. I know some coupled women have mastered the art of keeping themselves in tact, but it is a feat for anyone who tackles it.  Believe me, I’ve done this countless times with countless men (which can be found in all the many pages of this blog) – but it is something I’m hoping to correct as the journey continues.

And because of that, because of my progress, because I’m recognizing varying actions and reactions, both in myself and in others – I have to wonder – will I become censored when I meet the next Mr? Or when Mr. Possibility possibly becomes Mr. Definite?

When two become one – does the one that we once were fade away? Do fragments of the supreme single ladies and the fabulous lives we lead while flying solo, become distant memories of who we once were and what we once did? When we accept a Facebook relationship request, when we agree to wear that little (or large) rock on our left hand, and when we sign our name on a dotted line, promising forever – where does our independence go?

And even more so, what about our charm? Our character? Our personality? Our humor? I mean…just who we are, period?

I haven’t been in a relationship since I started writing this blog or since I decided to admit to myself (and to the World Wide Web) that I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend – so I can’t say for sure that I won’t ever lose myself again in a relationship. But what I can say – is that when Mr. Possibility came along, I was more upfront, honest, and sincere than I have ever been with any man.

I laid out what I wanted, what I was doing, what was important, what meant something to me, what I would accept and what I wouldn’t – and I made no excuses. I admitted that I like to be the belle of the ball, I’m confident, but can be needy; I’m a giver, but I can be greedy; I believe in myself and don’t want to be questioned, but I still want to feel supported. And in return, he put all of his cards on the table, too. There was no beating around the bush, no role to play, no mask to put on, and in any social setting we’ve been in, I haven’t hid behind him, and I haven’t censored myself or shrunken my personality to fit into the crowd.

And guess what? I feel better about who I am, my friends are vocal about the fact that I’ve remained ballsy and true to me, and Mr. Possibility respects me….and still likes me. Well, at least, we’ll hope so, right?

After the couples left, all the single ladies sat around, sharing our most recent dating stories, complaining about the men who have not-a-clue what to do, and how we still have that hope for love – and I realized that for the first time, I didn’t envy my coupled friends. I didn’t want to be the lady who had a sub-par evening and rushed home to be with my man. I didn’t long to be the one at the end of the table, doting on my boyfriend instead of catching up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I didn’t wish for a relationship or love or partnership.

Because right there, E, with her most surprising and sexy tales of men she’s allowed into her life and on the brink of a brilliant new chapter; R, with dreams and hopes of international love affairs and letting go of a man who never deserved her; and J, who appreciates being single, but just wishes she would meet one fling to show her having sex can be enjoyable – were honest, free, radiating

…and uncensored by a man. By even the possibility of love. By being in a relationship. They were just themselves – and that’s the company I prefer over any duo, any love interest, or anyone. Because it is when you can be yourself, when you can show every tangled, tortured, and unattractive feature you have to another person, that you never run the risk of having to censor yourself in their presence. Instead, you just let it all hang out and they encourage you to keep going – just like E, R, and J.

And if we can just capture that mindset and make demands on ourselves to never lose that freedom of expression – we can find that same acceptance, that same admiration, that same companionship…when we trade in our single shoes for a pair of love.

Ex on the Shelf

A few months ago when I booked my ticket to come home for the holidays, my mother tenderly and carefully asked: “You think when you’re home, maybe you could go through your room and get rid of some of your stuff?

At the time, I quickly agreed and apologized for keeping so much at the house I grew up in for my parents to look after. While my mom and dad will both promise me that I’ll have a place in their home until I get married (and even after, if I need it) – I know they want to transform my bedroom into something more than a glorified storage unit.

Yesterday, as I went through piles of clothes, boxes full of old notebooks, letters and cards from high school and college, makeup that expired years ago, books I haven’t read in years, and writings that date back to the 1990s – I came across something I had long forgotten about while gallivanting in New York.

The classic ex-boyfriend box.

I’ve heard them called “Love Boxes”, “Remember When Boxes” , “Past Flame Memorabilia” – but inevitably, every single friend I’ve had or just woman I’ve known has some collection of stuff from a man she once dated.

When I pulled down the box, opened it, and discovered what it was – I immediately pulled away. In year’s past, my ex-boyfriend box had been a part of my room I only teetered with in those sad, desperate moments of being a single-something when I wanted to remember what it felt like to be in love. When I wanted to smell an old t-shirt, that while I’m sure lost the scent of the man who gave it to me many moons ago, somehow still reminded me what it was like to be in that comfortable nook. It would be the item I’d use to excuse crying or remind me that while I “simply can’t find love” that I have in fact, been in love, and if I just hold onto these sentiments, I’ll never forget what it was like to be romantically happy.

I sat on the edge of my bed for a little while, gazing at the box, all four flaps open revealing the corner of a blue t-shirt that I knew was from Mr. Idea. I thought about my journey, my experiences in New York, and the growth I’ve been feeling, and knew I didn’t want to willingly push myself into a crying fest.

I mean, if I’m doing a 12-step program to recovery – I can’t purposefully take a few steps backward, can I? C’mon now.

I looked over at the box, racking my brain to try and determine what exactly was inside of it. If it didn’t include any of the men from the city – it was surely jammed-full of every pre-Manhattan dude who swept me away in his arms or swept me under the rug before stepping on it. I remembered the last time I went through the box; just a few days before I headed North – my eyes still swollen from crying myself to sleep more times than I would like to admit over the bittersweet end with Mr. Idea.

But – if I’m ever going to reach a point of self-love, of complete security in my single self, I certainly can’t let the Ex on the Shelf who is looking down at me, keep me from releasing the fear of being sad. Because sometimes, with a little bit of pain, comes a hell of a lot of change.

So, I dug into my Ex-Boyfriend Box of Memories.

I pulled out every last t-shirt and smelled them each. I looked at every picture, smiled at the memory of each man who has had his grip on my heart and my back. I read (and re-read) the words that these men, who at the time absolutely adored me, and felt my heart swell with thankfulness that I’ve been lucky enough to experience the blessing of  love from another person.  I held the ticket stubs and the plane tickets and thought of the experiences I had with each man, regardless if the flame died sooner than I wished upon it, or if the love was real or unrequited.

And not one letter, snapshot from the past, anniversary card, or sweatshirt made me cry. None of them crushed me. And more importantly, the memories this love memorabilia evoked – didn’t sadden me or make me long for old love – but they just made me remember how magical, how powerful, how life-altering, how incredible love can be.

Maybe because the timing wasn’t right, the romance wasn’t compatible, the desire wasn’t equal, the taking was more than the giving or due to him or due to me, or due to us – the love with the men of the box didn’t work out. It wasn’t designed by the fates to be everlasting, unconditional, and concrete enough for the commitment and upkeep of a lifetime. It took me a long time to realize that just because a relationship ended or a man walked away or put on my boots that were made for walkin‘ – that all love was lost. And to preserve those feelings, to hold onto to the images in my head that I valued so much I needed to catalog their apparel, their handwriting, and their handsome faces in a box on a shelf 600 miles away.

As I looked at all of my mementos and physical shadows of boyfriends-past (praying my parents didn’t open my door and ask what I was up to) – I decided I didn’t need any of it anymore. Well at least, not most of it, anyways. Of everything in that rather large box – I kept only two envelopes.  One with a few notes and another with a handful of photos. The rest of it was either tossed away or placed in a box for charity.

Because I don’t need a box to put my past behind glass or keep old love filed away. My exes don’t belong on a shelf – but rather, in special place in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind. And those memories, those images, those moments I shared with some very special men can never be contained to a single box or an entire blog, anyways. They are far too immense and have helped me become the woman I am more than any memorabilia I could ever keep.

After all, the love I’m searching for in myself, in the brilliance of being bold, beautiful, and single, in the bliss that comes with being independent – is partly due to the experiences of the past. Of the love I’ve shared and the heartbreak I’ve endured. Of the reminients of love that linger in my heart and will forever hope to find a love that not only stains, but stays. Of the process of not only admitting to the difficulties of the journey to loving myself, but accepting and learning from them, too.

If I’m going to free my mind and liberate my heart – I can’t keep all the exes on the shelf. Especially when the thought of them no longer makes me yearn, but makes me grateful for what was…and even more excited about meeting the man who I will share my life with, and hopefully much more than what could fit in any box ever created.