One More Week! Submit Your Valentine

It’s a week until Valentine’s Day (or Single Awareness Day or that day you have a date with Jack, Captain and Jose…) — but instead of making it about love and romance or the lack thereof, make it about all the reasons you love yourself.

That’s right — why you love you! Because you’re pretty great. Actually, you’re awesome.

So write a love letter to yourself by clicking this. Read Valentine’s from the last two years published on Confessions of a Love Addict here. Don’t worry — if you want to be anonymous, you can do that. Or I can link back to your blog.

Make sure to tell all the special ladies in your life to write one, too — don’t you all deserve to get a little more self-love in your lives?

 

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I Miss Me More

On Christmas eve, just before I sat down to a lovely meal prepared by my father, I received a text from Mr. Possibility.

I was expecting a message of some form from him around the holidays — maybe even a call. I didn’t know what style it’d come in or if it’d be bittersweet or heartfelt. Since much of my 2011 was spent with him, it was difficult not to think of him in my memories of this year – so naturally – he would contact me at the holidays. But standing in my childhood bathroom, curling my hair and sipping on cheap wine from a Southern grocery store, seeing his number (no name, it’s not saved anymore) light up my iPhone wasn’t a screen I wished to view.

Knowing my friend L would soon arrive, I took a deep breath in, decided my hair was pretty enough and went to my bedroom to read what he wrote. I sat down on my bed next to bags of clothes and the four shoeboxes from my shopping spree and looked over at the blooming rose my father left my bedside for me to see when I returned to North Carolina. I smiled at the sentiment and cursed myself for being even semi-taunted by a man who would never measure up to my thoughtful, loving dad. Trying not to remember how Mr. Possibility laid on this very bed, on these same sheets, with the room radiating with the intoxicating smell of summer just a few months earlier, I read what he had to say.

A won’t stop talking about you. Or how she wishes you were here for Christmas. She wants to come to your house. It’s so cute. 

Well, that wasn’t quite what I expected – but somehow, it hurt more. It wasn’t a message about Christmas or the magical feelings this season brings, but about his niece. His adorable niece who I fell in love with. As much trouble as its been to let go of Mr. P, it’s been just as much work to separate from his family – especially the two little girls I grew to feel like an aunt to. They even called me that when we’d visit a few times a month: Aunt Lindsay! You’re here!! 

Before I had a chance to respond to his text, I noticed a voicemail from his sister, that really was a Christmas wish and a sweet “I love you” from four-year-old A. I played her sweet voice a few times before typing “She misses me!” to which Mr. P responded, “She’s not the only one.” It was then that L’s car pulled up and I left my phone far out of reach, far away from where I could be tempted to say things only wine and twinkling lights could make me silly enough to believe.

The eve came and passed, and I managed to refrain from mentioning my tension or how my heart felt frozen when I heard A’s voice or thought about the family I had grown to love along with the man I loved, was moving on from me too. The closest of relationships share those dear to our hearts and when the affair ends, so do those family ties. As much as I had enjoyed and cherished becoming part of his clan, I know that with the passing of time, phone calls lessen and memories of a temporary Aunt will fade when a permanent Aunt is in the picture. But those – those – are the thoughts I simply can’t entertain. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

On Christmas Day, my mom and I felt a little antsy being stuck in the house with non-stop musical tunes and my grandmother’s sweet (and sorta irritating) ramblings, so we went for a drive. I wanted to see the mountains I never get to gaze at and she wanted to see me – so we drove around winding roads, catching up, laughing and doing our very best to avoid the topic of my departure – it’s a subject that isn’t friendly after spending a week together. As we’re going along the old highway I used to speed down, she asked me how I felt about Mr. P and the phone call from the previous night. I told her my grievances, how I feared my ability to really let go and love so unconditionally again and how though I knew I made the right choice, I felt like I was giving up a part of the me I created in New York so I could discover the life I really wanted.

She then asked bluntly, Do you miss him, honey?

Without much consideration and with little hesitation, I said: Yes, but I missed me more when I was with him. She smiled the grin that says: I-know-I’ve-been-there-too and reached for my hand. I was as honest as I could be and the truth laid flat in the winter air – as much as you can love someone, if the relationship just isn’t right or the person is selfishly motivated, you end up losing more by staying with them. And while I miss the companionship, the talks, his family that started to feel like my own, the shared dreams and intimate connections that I’d never share with this blog – if I would have not stood for what I needed, I would have ended up needing to really find myself again.

The best kind of love is the kind that brings out the best in you. It’s the kind that soothes your soul while it startles it. It entices you to be a better person and to believe in yourself more, while still being selfless with the person you’re committed to. Love is patient and it’s kind, but to find that perfect rhyme – you can’t sacrifice your happiness. And that person who cares, that person who is right, would never allow you to do so. Just like they would never let you miss out – or start to miss yourself – by being with them.

Less than a mile away from home I said, Maybe he showed me he loved me by letting me go Mom. Yeah, he misses me. His family does too. I miss all of them. But if we continued, we would have ruined whatever we ever had or any chance at friendship. So maybe he loved me enough to let me go. Right?

Without skipping a beat or missing the right turn into our street, she said, Or maybe, sweetie, you finally just stood up for what you deserved and he knew he couldn’t give it to you. It’s time to stop missing him, stop missing yourself and go out there and find someone who you’ll never have to miss. 

Amen, Mama. Amen.

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.

All of My Exes Are Closer Than Texas

I’d like to have a word with Mr. Zuckerberg.

No doubt the man will go down as one of the geniuses of my lifetime, as someone who greatly impacted the way people communicate and connect worldwide, and possibly, thanks to the movie, as a somewhat royal jackass – but sometimes, I wonder what life would be like without Facebook. For something so incredibly new – a mere seven years old – and already seem like such an important part of daily life for millions of people from Africa to Australia, is wildly impressive.

There are indefinite pros and cons to the technological revolution that makes sure connectivity is not just an option, but rather a saturation into normalcy. Do Facebook or Twitter serve as a novelty anymore – or are they officially acceptable methods of communication? Or if you’re anything like me, tools for stalking ex-boyfriends? Or those who I wish would have become boyfriends? Or both? Why is it that all of my exes aren’t far, far away in Texas, but super close on Facebook?

When Mr. Zuckerberg created Facebook, his idea was to keep people in touch -and perhaps he never thought implementing a section for “relationship” status would be as paramount as it is, but somehow, a single change or update has the power to completely make or totally break my day. And my confidence.

But worse of all, it can make me feel like every man who has ever loved me, I have loved, or was just momentarily a huge part of my life, has moved on. And here I am still stalking their Facebook.

Just from searching through the many social networks I’m signed up for, I can easily update you on the many Mr’s:

Mr. Faithful – still on the way to becoming a chiropractor, in a serious relationship with a gal I don’t know for over three years now. For Halloween, they wore matching outfits and during the many blizzards, they played outside each time. And took pictures.

Mr. Rebound – currently living in Chicago, accepted a great new job that he loves and was recently promoted to a higher position. In a relationship, though not sure for how long, with a lady who looks strikingly similiar to him. He appears to be balding, as well (she isn’t, for the record).

Mr. Fire – preparing for a move in May, seemingly still madly in love with the girl he posed in pictures with (in a hot tub, to be specific) a day after we broke things off. Still a hotshot in the sport he loves and apparently managed not to get pulled over by a cop for speeding a few weeks ago. And, both he and his Miss pulled for the Steelers last night.

Mr. Temporary– newly engaged, owns a house (wow!), and working in the school district he always dreamed he would. Looks like he recently got a puppy and has updates about what he eats, thinks, and breathes. Riveting, really.

Mr. Disappear– living in the same city and though he’s nearing the big 3-0, has yet to receive his Bachelor degree, and is in a relationship with a woman who is quite pretty. He happens to be completely bald, has a season pass to Nascar races (cringe), and hasn’t upgraded his taste in beer, so he’s still milking Bud. Ugh.

Mr. Smother – excelling in his career, residing in North Carolina, and recently started a relationship with a lovely blonde. Strangely enough, in the years that have passed since I cut things off, he hasn’t changed his profile picture. Not even once.

Mr. Fling – finishing up school after a medical bout and as charming as he is, has the ladies parading his wall constantly. I don’t blame them. And sometimes, I join them.

Mr. Idea – absoultely no idea  (no pun intended). He removed me as his friend, so thus communication paths are closed.

Central theme from the majority (minus one, actually) of these profiles? They have all entered into new relationships.

For most, the pairings are serious and they seem very happy with their new significant other, regardless of how significant I used to be in their life. A handful of them I still talk to, two or three I’d rather never speak to again, and maybe one I still wonder “what if” about. Regardless of how I feel toward these characters, I’m still connected to them and any information I want to know is at the reach of a click or a keyboard.

Well, maybe not any information, but the kind that makes me question what it means to really move on.

In an age where we’re bombarded and alerted to things we want and don’t want to know about – when can we officially say we’ve let go of any possibility, any longing, any angry or depressed sentiment, and have let the past be the past? Is it when we no longer feel the need to know what’s going on in their lives or when images of them newly in love don’t rock our hearts anymore when they show up on our feed?

For most of my exes, when we initially parted ways – I had to remove them from Facebook, block them from Gchat, delete every last email we exchanged and their phone number, stop following them on Twitter, and if we had a mutual friend that wasn’t that important to me, I’d go as far to ax them as well. I simply couldn’t bear to see the man I deeply cared about or allowed deeply in me…happy.

Or maybe not happy, but living their life without me. Okay, happily living their lives without me, while dating other people, and I was stuck being single. Because I wasn’t enthralled in the fire of a new romance or nearing happily ever after – anyone who once titillated my heart or my lovely lady parts – wasn’t allowed to be either. Because if they were in love or found someone they were interested in, that meant I hadn’t moved on and they had beat me in the mourning process. But relationships and especially the time needed to really let go of someone isn’t a competition or a race to the alter.

Or is it?

The measure of success after a relationship comes to an end isn’t determined by how quickly or easily you move from one bed, one embrace, one relationship status to another. It’s not measured by how much it hurts or doesn’t pain you to look at someone else experiencing romantic bliss sans you. Moving on isn’t defined by clicks, minutes spent stalking, or if you’re still intrigued by what’s going on in someone else’s life. Most living things are curious and if something is at your disposable or available through the world of webs, it’s natural to take a peek. If anything, it’s expected.

But instead of dwelling on the fact I’m single and dedicating an entire blog and year (or years?) to my life figuring out how to be content in my solo shoes, I’ve started asking myself a simple question:

Do I want to be that girl? Do I want to be the gal by his side? The one making out with him in a hot tub?

And that answer is even more basic than the question: no. I may not be falling head over heels, dreaming up visions of my future children, or deciding if I want chicken or fish, but I’m happy. Without a man. Without validation from another person. Without having to change my Facebook or make status updates about “my hubby” or how my boyfriend did something incredibly sweet.

Instead, my life, my Facebook, my social networks are about me. About the life I created for myself without depending on someone to build me up, boost my confidence or ensure me I could, in fact, reach my goals. I captured them just fine on my own – and frankly, wouldn’t have it any other way.

So regardless if everyone else is secure in their coupled-up oasis, for me, I know I’ve moved on, I’ve let go, I’ve released the ghosts of boyfriends-past because I don’t want to go back. Maybe more surprisingly, I’m not entirely focused on moving forward – but rather, setting my status, my updates about the things, the places, the people, the current life that means the most to me.

And that life, is just fine without someone writing on my wall, wearing matching outfits with me on Halloween, without having to fake an interest in the superbowl, without someone proposing to me, or inquiring about my whereabouts. It may be complicated at times, but it isn’t open, and it isn’t an exclusively non-exclusive relationship. It’s totally undefined by the Book of Faces or Twitterverse. It’s a life that I hope my exes stalk, so they see, regardless if you have a partner or you don’t, you can still find a love that brings you happiness. Even if it’s your own.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The Single Girl’s Holiday Calendar

In New York, I decided to not get a television in an effort to use my money wisely. Somehow, to me, mini-trips, shopping, and trying out new restaurants around the town is a much better use of my hard-earned cash than sitting at home flipping channels. For those shows that I’m admittedly addicted to (Desperate Housewives, Glee, etc.) – there is always my very reliable and free friend, Hulu.

However, when you’re stuck inside an Igloo and the only way out is in – keeping your eyes glued to the tube seems to be the way to pass time. So, in between gazing outside, running on my family’s 15-year-old treadmill (very scary, by the way), cleaning, and cursing the clouds for their snow invasion – I’ve been hanging out on the couch, remote in one hand, puppy on the knee.

As I’ve watched reruns of Full House and spent hours salivating at the Food Network, and crying over the fancy trips on the Travel channel that I can’t afford to take – I’ve noticed a very strange theme in commercials. Before Christmas, regardless if they were advertising home appliances, jewelry, or electronics – almost every 30-second clip featured a happy, smiling couple. All the taglines promised to “bring a smile to her face” or “to give him the gift that keeps giving” or “be the envied couple of the year.

Ironically enough though, most commercials now are geared to the single crowd with the focus on New Year’s Eve. Beauty companies, fitness centers, major retailers, and all that’s in between – are now promoting themselves as the must-have for independence, for a “brand new beautiful you” or “the back-end that’ll make them take a second look” or “bring in the New Year with new gifts just for you.”

So, apparently flying solo while Santa’s in town is not recommended, but ringing in the next January 1 is? Does that much change in just a week?

I know about targeted marketing efforts and audience sampling to help determine what registers with viewers and maximizes a company’s return-on-investment for their clip during prime time. I know the process to create a commercial that the majority of people mute is a strenuous and standardized process – but maybe playing into our emotions and directing us to the special-times-of-the-year where being single is acceptable, isn’t the best route to take.

Holidays have always been, until late, a very difficult time to be sans-boyfriend for me. There is something about celebratory dinners with families, seeing long-lost friends, or anticipated dates that make me wish I had a physical, in-flesh date by my side. However – I will say that amidst the pressure from grandma and the Green Monster of Envy of your friend’s engagement ring, there is something to be said about the hype surrounding holidays that could make a minus-one lady lonesome. I won’t blame Hallmark or the Saints, but I may shy away from kneeling and purchasing for a bit.

And while most of it may very well be in our minds, watching couples frolicking in between Man vs. Food isn’t exactly appetizing for those of us who would like to take a bite out of a man ourselves. So instead of signing up for OkCupid or hitting the bar hard between now and the-holiday-that-shouldn’t-be-mentioned in February (deep breaths) – why don’t we create our own Single Girl Holiday Calendar?

I propose the following:

January 6- National No Regret Spending Day

While everyone else’s credit card bills will be coming back maxed-out to the limit due to purchasing expensive watches for their boyfriends and fancy chocolates for the boyfriend’s mother – ours will be happily balanced and in tact. And if not, at least we can glance down at our feet and see those Louboutins smiling back at us.

February 15- “I’m Prettier Than Your Box of Chocolates” Day

Those attached may be recovering from a romantic evening of imported wine and smelling the roses, but all the single ladies who spent the last week pampering ourselves with facials, manicures, blow-outs, and treatments, will be the ones who turn heads for days to come. Love does look good on people, but so does radiating skin courtesy of a fancy salon in midtown.

March 17- Kiss Many Irish Men (or Those Who Claim It) Day

Instead of having to wonder if our men will be getting a little too drunk to handle himself maturely at the bar, you’re free to indulge in green specialities, and if the Irish happen to get lucky by your standards, you may even steal a kiss. Or two.

April 24- Born-Again Single Woman Day

If instead of celebrating your singleness on New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patty’s, you decided to eat a full half-gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and drink yourself into a hot-mess oblivion, today is the day to rise up and rejoice! If you accept yourself as single, flaws and all, your power and strength will be returned to you. This also pertains to those who have newly been forced into or chosen the single status.

May 6- Single Ladies Get Out of Work (with Pay) Day

Due to an excessive obsession with guacamole and margaritas, any woman who is not attached to a man by formal titles bestowed by the state, church, or Facebook, is permitted to not go into work to recover from her hangover. She will get paid as she usual does and her attached friends are required to send her orange juice, diet coke, and appropriate feel-better food.

June 24 – National One Night Stand Day

Since this is a time where single ladies should be gallivanting to exotic places by themselves or with other free ladies, this is the day to celebrate being non-committed by enjoying a one night stand of your choice. By having the out-of-this-world sexy seduction during this 24-hour period (every minute, if you’d like) – your overall “number” does not go up, your emotions do not go haywire, and you are free to enjoy with no-strings-attached. Protection a must. Foreigners encouraged.

July 4- National Independence Day (USA)

Enough said.

September 5- Anti-Labor Day

In celebration of the fact that we’ve never had to go through labor pains and we don’t have to labor over pleasing a man, let us all raise a glass and a diamond-less hand to our slender bodies and well-rested heads. (Single mothers are the exception because we can’t even imagine how they can do it all on their own, even if they have actually been in labor)

October 29- Free to Be Scary Looking Day

With masks and costumes preparing to roam the streets, single women of the world honor the fact that they can just be themselves, in the privacy of their own apartments, without having to worry about their looks for a man. No makeup with a green cleansing facial masques, no clothes or pushup bras, no shaving in any area if we don’t fancy, and no zit-left-unpopped for this day. Be free, be a tad-bit scary looking…and still feel beautiful.

November 30- Thank Goodness I’m Single Day

While attached ladies are busy worrying about how their in-laws will get along, who will bring what dish to dinner, and if they’re boyfriend/husband will say they are thankful for “them”  when the crowd counts their blessings around the table – we’re encouraged to do whatever we like. Don’t want to go anywhere but our friend’s place and drink wine while “cooking” a turkey? Go for it. Try and make a list of reasons why you’re thankful to be single, too.

December 10- National Sparkle’ for Singles Day

Put down the third gift for mom, and the rice maker for Aunt Jo. Tis time to buy yourself something…just for you. There is no better way to say “I love me” than to feel like a star at the end of the year, throughout the year…and always.

Stuck in a Love Snowglobe

The day after Christmas, in a land far, far away from the majesty that defines New York City, I found myself stuck in my childhood home, surrounded by almost a foot of snow. And worse than being annoyed, was the realization that I wasn’t getting anywhere until Tuesday.

If you can feel my deep, intense, loud, and heaving sigh from wherever you are – I wouldn’t be surprised.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I really did enjoy being home for ten days. It was nice to see familiar faces and do virtually nothing but eat, sleep, and be very merry. I had a very wonderful Christmas and was actually able to consume some solid food by the time we opened presents. And of course, receiving 30 beautiful Christmas tulips (my favorite) from Mr. Possibility was a very nice gesture. (And hey, they weren’t second-hand, but intended for me). But after so much downtime, relaxing, not working, having no obligations or responsibilities – not to mention not really spending any money at all – this woman is going quite stir-crazy. I’ve found many ways to pass my time indoors, from giving myself a pedicure and attempting to teach my six-year-old dog tricks to eating lots and lots of snow creme and cleaning out all sorts of things that I’ve had for way too long.

Nevertheless, there has been something about having absolutely nothing to do and no way to get out – that’s made me a little melancholy.

I’ve found myself lost in my own thoughts, dreaming up notions of tomorrow in my mind, feeling that all-too-familiar twang of sadness and desire for a love to call my own, and even despite my recovery efforts, something has made me revert back to some of my love addiction fantasies.

You know – the fairytale land we’ve all created: those images of how we believe our future hubby will look like (tall, charming, handsome, with blue eyes), what his future career will be (something he loves and makes a ton of money), what our house will be like (old with a history and made of brick), and how he will propose (in a symbolic way that will mean something to us). All of these visions, these beliefs, these hopes for how our future, our lives, and our loves will play out.

And man, oh man, do I have a ton. I even have a journal I refer to as my “Dream Book” and it has documented everything from my first dollar made, my date to prom, my college acceptance letter, my first pay stub from my first real job, and it also holds my aspirations, my bucket list, and keepsakes. Bridal magazine clippings, snapshots of couples in love – from the super young to the very old, catalogs from Bergdorf Goodman with items tagged I’d die to own, pictures of places all over the world that I hope to travel to, scraps of fabric, adorable babies in cute little outfits, and apartments that are so very, very lovely. And it also holds my life’s checklist: I’ve checked off graduating from high school, going to college on scholarship, graduating from college, moving to NYC, working for a magazine, and now, there are still several remaining items to “accomplish.”

However, those left, minus being a New York Times best-selling author, aren’t exactly attainable by merit or ambition – but rather, what I believe, are only possible with patience and well…time. But these must-haves for my future, these figments of my imagination that somehow have never left me – are sometimes, so painful to think about. And yet, so precious to me.

I keep them in a part of my heart that I don’t even go near most of the time, a section of my soul that is still vulnerable, still open and full of faith, and a part of my mind that even against its best judgement is a hopeless romantic to the core. They are under strict protection, hidden away in a box beneath my dresser, underneath piles of sheets and pillowcases, completely out of sight for any visitor, friend or Mr. Possibility who may enter my apartment.

And yet, even though they are stuck under glass, in a love snowglobe of sorts, I almost always allow myself to input the man of the hour, of the week, of the month – into these fantasies. I gaze up at this man, interjecting him into these ideas, and hoping, wondering, praying – that he’ll live up to these notions I’ve sketched. That he’ll help me check off a box, be seated next to me at our wedding in a photo I’ll stick on a page in the Dream Book I’ve had since I was 13, and be the answer to these late-night, pleas for love. But then, when it doesn’t work out, when he was never really meant to play the part of my Mr. Forever – there those romantic angles go, right back in the book, out of sight, out of mind, out of heart. Protected again, under the same imagination they were created by…until the next endearing candidate comes along.

Maybe it is being captured by the snow with way too much time on my hands or just the growth of this journey, but instead of dwelling in these blueprints I’ve outlined for tomorrow – I’ve decided it is time to shake up the love snowglobe.

To twist the dial and let the music play for however it’d like. To watch the snow and the glitter, the specs, and the debris fly all sorts of ways, and allow those plans and checklists to be a little less structured. To give not only myself, but my sacred Dream Book, some room to change and some room for new opportunities to come my way. To give my heart some lee-way and to let go of the rigid expectations I’ve made for my Prince Charming, so maybe when a possibility comes along, my imaginary projections don’t drown out the brilliance of who he really is.

Because being trapped in any way – where it be in snow or in visions of white wedding dresses and homes with finger-painting messes – isn’t a pleasure for anyone. Stuck in the same rut with the same idea and the same hopes….will never liberate the Dream Book from its title or allow the most wonderful dream of all, reality, to play its course.