Between the Me and the We

Right now, I’m sitting in a room that isn’t mine. I’m not paying the rent here. I didn’t buy the bedding I’m under or the lamp I’m using to keep a light. I’ve never worn the clothes hanging in the closet or read the books on the bookshelf across the room. I’m not in the photos and I didn’t visit the places that represent the artwork and treasures that decorate this space. My jacket isn’t hanging on the hook on the bedroom door and I didn’t pick out the window treatment.

This place doesn’t belong to me but it will be the place I come home to for the next three weeks. And once he comes back from his overseas excursion, Mr. Possibility will join me, here, at his apartment nearly 40 minutes away from my old brownstone. The inconvenience of a gap in between leases was lessened by his generous offer and though I usually prefer a bed all to myself, unless it is a California King, I can share his Queen with him for a short period, without much complaint. Or really any complaint at all.

I’ve never really lived with anyone before, though I’ve freelanced a few articles about the topic – something that’s interesting about the life of a writer, if you’re a good one, you can pen a piece on anything and sound intelligent with some research and interviewing. The most amount of consecutive time I’ve spent with a man under the same roof was a week-and-half with Mr. Idea, in a similar situation where I had to wait for the move-in date of my last apartment in college. This time period came at a more inconvenient time – within the first three weeks we knew each other – and truth be told,  it probably is the reason things got as serious and as comfortable as quickly as they did. I wouldn’t say it defined our relationship, but it definitely changed its course.

But Mr. Possibility and I have known each other longer. We’re better friends (and more than that). He won’t be here the whole time I will be and like adults, we’re respectful of one another’s need for personal space. Like him, I have a lot of things and probably far more than I actually need, but to keep him from tripping over my everything, I narrowed down what was necessary to a medium-sized suitcase, a bag of shoes, my laptop, and my purse. These things are neatly piled in the corner of his room, with a few dresses that tend to wrinkle hanging in his closet.

I was careful not to impose, as I already feel like I’m imposing by living rent-free for three weeks in a space that’s already small enough to begin with. I was invited and he was well-informed that I would officially transition from my old location to his today. I stopped by the grocery store, I unpacked what I felt I needed on top of my luggage, and left a few things in the bathroom – not too much, but enough to easily function day-to-day.

And yet, as I have many times before, I showered in his shower, used his toothpaste on a toothbrush he gave me, and tucked myself into his bed, something felt odd. While I know for a fact I’m no where close to wanting to be married, I thought about what a strange shift it will be when I stop labeling things as “his” and as “mine” and start thinking in terms of “ours” with whoever that “he” will be.

I’m a girly girl by nature and would never deny my admiration of all things soft, beautiful, and feminine, but unlike some of my friends, I haven’t picked out my dream engagement ring. I don’t know (or really care) about the colors I’ll use in my wedding. I haven’t Googled venues or flowers or anything of the sort. The closest I’ve come to thinking of my own wedding is flipping through engagement and wedding photos on Facebook when they pop up on my feed. But while I’ve never given much thought my wedding, I think I’ve given less thought to marriage – the reality of happily ever after.

After the glitz and the glam, comes the time when cohabitation stops becoming something you debate with your friends on if it’ll ruin your relationship, and it just becomes life. There is no more wondering if you’re imposing or having separate sleeping arrangements (unless you prefer, of course. Or if you can afford a two bedroom between two people in Manhattan). Suitcases are not used as a temporary dresser and shoes are no longer picked on how many outfits they go with, but the whole collection is displayed and stored. Apart from traveling or emergencies – you stop spending the night alone and while you may not opt for joint banking accounts, money is combined in some fashion to make ends meet.

I know all of these things should probably sound exciting and comforting to me – they don’t. Not now. Sure, I would always have someone to come home to, someone who would listen to me, someone to support and cherish me all of my days, all my lifelong. Finding The One is something all women talk about or at the very least think about, regardless if they care to admit it, instead of dreaming up this fantasy – they’d be better off to think of what life looks like with a partner. Sometimes it is cramped and complicated and finding a balance between developing your personal identity while creating a vibrant relationship is a beam you’ll teeter on continuously. Even my parents who have been married for 25 years, struggle with finding a happy medium.

One day, the reality of marriage will become what I crave and feel ready for – but today, I like the idea of visiting more than moving in. And if I’m going to be on vacation in the land of Mr. Possibility until my new humble abode is ready for me, I’ll allow myself to spread my things about just a bit. But not too much.

Not yet – I need to have some more books I’ve read, journeys and pictures I’ve taken, memories I’ve made, shoes I’ve bought, and stories I’ve written that only belong to me, before I can even think of belonging to someone else. Before I can transition from the me to the we.

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Seven Minutes of Play & Plato

Everything I do is marked by momentum. Not always with precision – but most definitely with speed. I walk fast, I eat quickly, I write this blog in a half hour, I live by snap decisions, I make up my mind instantly, I change it just as easily, I fall in love without holding back, and I almost always kiss on the first date.

So when I was offered a chance to try speed dating, it seemed like a natural progression for a gal who’s always been on the go. With strict instructions from my single female co-workers to take detailed notes in case they wanted to take this type of dating for a spin – I headed to a little pub in midtown east right after work.

Truth be told – while this was my first experience going on seven severely short dates in one evening, the name of this game wasn’t just about going quickly, but having fun. After all, it was professionally titled ImprovDating – which really, if you ask me, is what it is all about anyways. Isn’t dating one large improvisation we happen to act out for years until we find someone who lets us play the most difficult character of all…ourselves?

The evening began with pretzels and brainteasers, followed by warm up exercises to get us all a little more comfortable with the strangers we would soon be chatting with. As the three wildly energetic organizers prepared us for the rotating dates, one of them, who I’ll call Mr. Plato, quoted the philosopher from which he received his name:

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Before I started playing ring-around-the-singles with the rest of the fourteen 20 and 30-somethings in the group, I scribbled down those wise words for safe keeping. The rest of the evening, I charged myself with the mission of listening, being open and non-judgmental, and most of all – just enjoying the experience.

For far too long, with far too many men, I’ve been far too concerned with perfection. With finding a man who not only has his ducks-in-a-row and isn’t a quack, but also crosses off all of those things on my not-so-imaginary checklist. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to approach dates with the same preparation and strategic planning as I would an interview. I came with the goal of determining if I was a match with the man in question and I left with a definitive answer of interest or disinterest. I didn’t look back, I didn’t doubt my decision to let a dude go, and I most certainly never gave him the opportunity, if I found him not fitting my fancy, to even have a minute of fun instead of an hour of interrogation.

Now, however, because of this journey – I’ve learned to just let it go. Of course, I’m not settling for less than what I want or compromising my non-negotiables for the sake of not being part of the singles crowd, but I’ve stopped looking at dating as end-all-be-all and more like the-here-and-the-now. Mr. Plato also advised not to look for your future husband or wife in the faces we all carefully searched before the games began, but just consider if you’d like to chat with them for longer than seven minutes.

That under ten-minute span may not seem very long, but you’d be surprised how little you learn about a person and yet, how many laughs you can share when limited by time. Though I can’t remember all of their names, their professions, where they’re from, or any specifics – I do recall enjoying the improv challenges we were faced with. Though one guy had the unfortunate task of having to mirror my movements and another had to witness my poor artistic abilities, and another was asked to describe, in detail, what he would do with himself if he was a woman for a day – the whole two hours the group spent together, we spent it in high spirits. At the end of my rotating dates, I can’t say I was too interested in going out with anyone (my heart and hope is currently with Mr. Possibility, to be frank), I did find myself embracing the opposite of what had attracted me to the event in the first place.

Instead of speeding through a date to figure out the verdict to text your friends or call your mom with details, why not slow down, and discover the art of playing? Of looking at a person as a person, as someone to share an incredible moment with, even if it doesn’t mount into a lifetime of those moments.

There really is no need to determine a mate’s potential in the very first date, and perhaps that’s why speed dating is speeding up in cities around the world. Sometimes, all it takes to trigger a little play and a little healthy laughter is giving yourself the permission to play, as Plato suggested. To let go of what you think you want or even wanting anything at all. To look into the eyes of someone else for the sake of making eye contact, not for deciding if you see your future staring back at you. To not worry about what someone does because that’s not who they are; to not get too intense too soon because that’ll kill any sort of passion; and to not ask someone to put all their cards on the table right away because you most likely won’t do the same (and neither of you should).

While I’m not going to condone playing with the hearts of others for satisfaction, I will encourage a little more play and little less conversation. And if you haven’t already – check out a speed dating event in a place near you, it’s worth the time, the experience, and the seven minutes of play. And maybe, of Plato.

The Plane Will Take Flight

There’s an old story about a person who wakes up to a blaring alarm clock, stubs his/her toe on the bedpost, runs into the chair haphazardly displaced in the middle of the living room, and steps into the shower, only to find the hot water is not-so-hot. And though this person has only been awake a matter of minutes, the rest of their day will follow in the same format: profanity hidden under deep, exhausted and frustrated sighs of angst.

And nothing about this 24-hour period will be rectifiable. Everything is unquestionably shot to hell and while it may be the only March 23, 2011 that will ever be, to me –damned it be.

 

I didn’t stub or bump into anything and the shower held up to its steamy standards – but I woke up yesterday in a panic, due to an odd dream. I won’t go into details because I’m still not sure what I think and the fact that my mind can conjure such ironic concepts and scenarios without my consciousness is rather freaky. Anyways – a moment before my cell phone attempted to wake me, I shot up in bed, eyes wide-open, and hoped I didn’t wake the possibility who was possibly still sleeping next to me.

Thirty minutes later at the unforgiving eighth hour, I rushed to catch the train and found myself appalled at the weather New York was entertaining. I mean, less than a week ago I had effortlessly eaten dinner outside in a wrap dress without a sweater and without pantyhose. But now, as I ascended from above ground to the underground metro maze, I watched the sleet, hail, and snow mix disappear out the window and thought the only word to describe the day’s conditions was disgusting.

Though work was at its normal, dependable pace, and the magazine’s press due date on Friday is quickly approaching, I didn’t find myself stressed. Something about working on a deadline actually gets me working harder than I normally do (probably why journalism is a great career for me), and when everyone else is buzzing with productivity, it makes it easier to stay focused.

However, as the hours passed, I noticed my downward mood. No matter how many positive things happened or how my soul felt a certain sense of happiness – I couldn’t shake an overwhelming feeling of sadness. You know – one of those emotions you can’t deny and derives from a place that makes everything else tender? Right in the pit of my gut and the center of my heart was a pang of awful ache that matched the weather stirring outside.

As I looked up the proper way to spell canceled (if you’re curious, it can have one “L” or two, it is a preference thing), I wondered what was wrong with me. I’m not expecting a visitor I never excitedly invite (unless I’m worried it won’t come, that is), tensions aren’t tight between me and anyone else, and while I haven’t slept as much as I’d like, I wasn’t exhausted.

So why the gloom and doom?

Concerned with my concerns, I first focused my thoughts and then listened to them. I went through my never-ending to-do list that is needed for work, the blog I needed to write that I had been putting off, the apartment that needed cleaning, the weekend plans that needed confirming, the bills that needed paying, and the groceries that needed buying. And the Mr. Possibility that needed me to stop by to see him off before he flies, yet again, overseas, for an unknown amount of time.

Oh, well then. Maybe that makes sense. Of course, the departure of a someone who is becoming something may cause a little distress, I thought. But what if I don’t want it to? What if it scares me to care?

I never intended for things to progress with Mr. Possibility and I – but they have. In one of those slow, easy, and far from simple ways that we all think we want, but when it happens, the picture doesn’t come out as great as the shot we had in our head. Or at least a little less sepia and black and white, and more daylight or without flash. The desire and unintentional intentions aside – I’ve found myself here. And it’s here that I find myself sappy on a Wednesday afternoon, waiting for the day to end so I can see a special someone off to the airport, while I sincerely hope for a flight delay.

Unwilling to admit that Mr. Possibility’s absence  would mean something to me, I powered through the rest of work, even crossing off some tasks I don’t enjoy doing to distract from my wave of longing. Sure enough, the clock struck six and off I was to Brooklyn, battling hail storms and tourists along the way.

When I burst into the door, I almost stumbled into his luggage, and he greeted me with a big smile before pulling me into his embrace. This move is signature of most men – making us disappear into their sometimes hairy and sometimes still stuck in preadolescence chest – and yet, when Mr. Possibility took me in, I felt something different.

I felt my heart sink.

At this point, I’m extremely frustrated that I’m upset, so I make a careful move to wiggle away and as I do so, lightning flashes and thunder makes an unforgiving entrance. Further annoyed the weather continues to mock my emotions on this particular day, I ask how I can help and head to the sink to rinse dishes (something I think I got from my mom, who cleans when she’s feeling uncomfortable or restless). After a few hours of talking about the trip, tying up loose ends, cleaning, and chatting away, Mr. Possibility insisted I at the very least, ride with him to the subway so I wouldn’t have to walk in the snow that was now highlighted across the sidewalks. Though I don’t appreciate being instructed, I picked high-heeled ankle boots as footwear, and didn’t want to ruin them. Or you know, slip and break my neck.

After finally saying our temporary good-bye, with my heart simmering, I stepped directly into a puddle that went well past the boots I was so concerned about damaging. In the slippery slush, I tiptoed to catch my ticket home, and like the person who stubbed their toe in the morning, I cursed in a way my grandmother would blush over.

It wasn’t until my nearly-hour commute back to the Upper West that I finally came to terms with the sadness I was battling all day. And those terms were far less complicated than what I was making them: I’m scared. Why was I worried about his new short or extended international stint? Like anyone would be, I was afraid of history repeating itself – and well, I like the dude, so of course, I’ll miss him. But more than that, after all this work to build a foundation of trust, I had stomped all over it, all day long. I had chosen to forgive him, my friends had decided to forgive me for giving him a second chance, and that was that. You can’t go back on forgiveness or you should have never granted it to begin with. And if his traveling leads to traveling in areas I’d rather not know about – then I’ll gladly accept the rightfully deserving title of fool.

Letting go of yesterday, learning to live (and love) yourself in today, and not being intimidated by a future single or with someone else means learning to take everything day-by-day. A bad day won’t repeat itself if you’re able to change your mindset before calling it a night. A great day may not be as bright the following day, just like love may not always be as close as it was a few hours earlier. But we can’t pray for those flight delays or for time to stop moving in its unexplainable way that somehow always translates into sense at the end of it.

Because the planes will arrive and they will take flight, along with the wintry weather that’ll yield to spring, and distance that will grow and test the possibility of something with great possibility.

 

 

What the World Needs

I wrote a blog for today.

It was about learning to control your imagination and not allowing it to get the best of you, the relationship you’re in or considering making official. I made analogies and edits, I crossed the t’s and dotted the I’s. I inserted links. It was what I consider a clever concoction of words and ideas and I’m sure readers and haters alike would have related.

But then WordPress goofed on me.

For whatever reason, the scheduled blog missed its automatic deadline and didn’t publish. I currently am without a phone with a higher IQ than the basic feature one, so I didn’t realize the mishap until midafternoon – maybe 20 minutes before this post goes live. I spent the morning away from the computer, sleeping in, eating breakfast in bed, and attempting to motivate myself to clean while nursing a one-too-many-Merlot haze.

However, the hours I spent enjoying the company of Mr. Possibility and his bacon-cooking skills, were interrupted by the news. I notoriously don’t watch shows or commentaries – I’m more of a reader. I digest The Times daily, subscribe to New York magazine, and my job requires me to follow business trends – which, surprisingly, have become far more interesting than I ever predicted they would. I’m fascinated by international affairs and the changing state of the world and its politics. I tend to believe we can’t all fight every single war, every injustice, or every problem – but picking one and sticking to it, would do the planet and its people a lot of good.

So today, don’t read this blog.

Put relationship troubles and worries of never finding the right guy on the back burner. Stop focusing on how to love yourself and what are the proper relationship-oriented decisions you should make to remain happy and confident. These things are important (I wouldn’t need a 12 step program, if they weren’t) – but today, take the time to catch up on the needs of the universe. Not the needs of yourself.

Love may not give back the lives of those killed in Egypt or give peace to the women raped in Libya or bring back the hundreds who lost their life in Japan’s current state of disaster. It may not save anyone from radiation, should it become a real threat. It may not stop sex trafficking from being the third most profitable illegal trade – only behind the smuggling of guns and drugs. It may not help an 11-year-old who was taken by 18 men in Texas or change the articles published placing the blame on her and posing a question of concern for the rapists’ futures. It may not turn the agendas of the media – who may be more concerned with hits and clicks – from giving way more attention to a washed-up, B-list celebrity who has abused women for decades, without anything more than a smack on the hand, followed by placing another million in his pocket.

It’s true, love doesn’t solve everything.

It doesn’t answer the questions left unruly and bitter in the hearts of those who have suffered great loss or pain. But maybe The Beatles are right – what the world needs now is, in fact, love. A love for humanity. A neighborly kind of love that looks out for the family of four next door. A love that doesn’t want something in return, but wants to give. An educated love that knows of the world outside of their zip code. A love that sees people as people, not as objects, statistics or figures, but human beings, who have the ability to love and to hate.

Go give the world what it needs: more people who care. More people who want to help someone else. More people who, regardless of what’s going on in their lives, their relationships, their homes, or their hearts – know there is always someone out there who needs love more than they do.

My Love, My Valentine, Myself

When I started this blog nearly six months ago, I thought about what I would write on this day. On a day that for many years consisted of endless tears, intense jealously, and consumption of far too many calories. On a day where my self-proscribed “love addiction” reached all-time levels of ridiculousness.

I wondered what my life would be like at the time, if I would be recovering in healthy measures and learning to put myself before any man who was or was not in my life. I considered the option that I could have a boyfriend at the time, but when I started this journey, I hoped (for once) that I would be single when St. Valentine’s Day reared its compulsively pink and glittery head.

Because if you’re going to learn to love yourself single and stop defining your worth by the likes or dislikes of a man, I think spending today, even though it is just another Monday, alone is a necessary hurdle to leap over. Even if you stumble and cupid’s arrow knocks you down instead of fluttering your tummy with undefinable somethings, you still have to make the jump.

So, with a lot of acceptance, laughing, crying, and dates – I find myself exactly where I hoped to be on this day of love: romancing myself. And since I know what fits my fancy the best and what brings me the most joy of any pleasure on this Earth, then I can undoubtedly do the one thing that sweeps me off my feet more than anything else…writing.

However, I didn’t realize the process of composing a love letter to myself would be as difficult as it turned out to be, especially since I’ve been writing for nearly a decade, often daily. Somehow, putting into words how I feel about myself, the things I love that are specific to me, and the thankfulness I have to be in a relationship that’s minus-one – was challenging.

Luckily for me, I had the encouragement, the inspiration, and of course, the love from all of you. Your letters to yourself warmed my heart in ways a man never could never attempt to do. Sometimes, there is no better feeling than knowing that by doing the thing you love the most, you help others learn to love the things that make them irreplaceable and beautiful.

On Valentine’s Day or any other time of the year, I hope you all remember that loving yourself, choosing yourself, standing up for yourself, and deciding to be your own best friend, your own greatest fan, your own lover – is better than any bouquet of anything, everything in an overpriced blue box, and any dinner for two, you could ever experience. After all, flowers will wither, chocolates will crumble, and February 14th will come to an end, but no matter how much someone melts your heart or takes a bite out of it, though you may wilt, no man will ever determine your ending. Your happy ending begins and concludes with you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, addicts! I love you all for your continuous support and sweet words of encouragement. Go paint your city, your town, or you countryside red.

“My love, my darling, You’re my very best friend, my ray of sunshine. My girl. You stand by me when I can’t stand. You remind me that I’m more beautiful than I realize, stronger than I can comprehend, and braver than I thought possible. You make me laugh when everything feels like it’s crumbling. You’ve shown me that imperfections are really not flaws, but the things that make me, me. Sometimes, I can’t believe how far you’ve come. Literally, living your dream and often time pinching yourself because you can’t believe it actually came true. But, want to know what’s funny – it didn’t just come true, you made it your reality. You’ve never been afraid of taking risks, of asking questions, of putting yourself out there, and going after and standing up for what you believe. It is your bravery, your spirit, your kindness, and your compassion that make me love you so. You really are the whole package – petite, but hell in heels. Shapely and fit. Lovely brunette with piercing blue eyes and sometimes, a quite witty sense of humor. You’re intelligent and proud, but not narcissistic and condescending. You really do love people, people of every shape and form. People you’ve known for years, people you’ve never met, people you’ve read the words of, people you passed on the subway, people who you have not loved you in return. But most importantly, you love me for me, no exceptions or excuses. I hope you know how much I love you in return. You give and you believe in love freely, and you’re learning not to let it be everything. You’re always honest with me, I can trust you more than I rely on any single thing on this planet. You are the person I want to wake up to each and every single day and look at before I fall asleep. Your optimism, your faith that all turns out as it should, makes me believe the future we have together is never-ending. I’m so thankful that on Valentine’s Day you decided to choose me, to love me, to be loyal to me, and shower me with your beauty and your ever-shining light. Thank you for all you’ve given me these 20-something years – I can’t wait see what you do next. Know that no matter what happens, no matter where we go, no matter what rocky waters we may endure, I’ll be here for you, today and always. Go get ’em Tigar!” -Love Addict, New York, NY

“Although you spent the last three valentines with her, it’s time to move on…. don’t dwell on the past and find a new love this year!” – Dating a Lemon

“I love how you always have an enthusiastic attitude about everything. You find the good out of every situation. You are strong, independent, and have passion which is incredibly sexy in a woman. I do not need a man to make me happy because I get along just fine without one, I have never settled for less and I am not going to start settling for less now. What makes me a fearless, fabulous female is my independence and that I value my own worth and put my needs before the needs of a stranger in my bed (Old self would have done that but new self laughs at the idea of a man she barely knows in her bed). I am happy to be flying solo this Valentine’s Day because I am happy with myself and would rather be by myself eating chocolate bon-bons and watching horror flicks then in a loveless relationship any day.” – Emily, Asheville, NC

“Do you remember your last Valentine’s day? When you spent an hour waiting for your (now ex-) boyfriend, before walking 40 minutes to his house in heels, where no one answered the door? Even though it turned out to be an okay-ish day (watching “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” isn’t really my idea of romance, but oh well), that’s not going to happen any more. You’re better than that, because you no longer need a man to feel complete. You have a great personality, long legs, a kick-ass wardrobe and mind-blowing curves. You are strong and independent. You’ve got the whole package: intelligence, sexiness, wit and not to forget, 32 pairs of fabulous shoes. The fact you’re alone on Valentine’s day does not say you’re lonely, It only says you’re not prepared to settle for anything less than your dream guy. You deserve so much more than all those guys you’ve given the chance to stand at your side. So, this year have a little fun on your own. Take this day to start believing how truly fabulous and amazing you really are. Have a wonderful Valentine’s day. You don’t deserve anything less. Love, Me. P.S. Happy Valentine’s day to every love addict out there. You are truly amazing too!” –Cassandra, Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland

“This Valentine’s Day, as I spend the night convincing myself that I’m happily single, I’ll remind myself of the one word that drives me and it won’t be so bad – fearless. I’m fearless of my independence, fearless of getting hurt, fearless of my flaws, and fearless of falling in love. I’m ready to take on the challenge of finding the emotion every girl dreams of feeling and I’m not afraid to take on every little thing that’s thrown at me along the way.” – Chelsea

“Hmmm. You know I have a hard time thinking of things to say to you. You tend to just think up things all on your own to make yourself have a brighter day. Which is probably what I love most about you. You are an amazingly strong women, the stuff you think up in your head is like “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows,” not to mention a little bit of “Be Happy,” and “I feel so Pretty,” also not to mention the way you screw up lyrics and smoosh together songs. I’m glad to spend my days with you forever and always. As you remember to treat each day like a “New Design” and not a story going “Over and Over Again.” Btw, you are the bees knees of pretty ladies, don’t let yourself feel otherwise. Love Always and Forever, Me, Myself, and I.” –Shay Rae, Fort Wayne, Indiana

“You’re in your twenties and have lived in various amazing places. You’ve suffered great losses and yet you’ve managed to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and dive head first once more. You’ve dated a number of men and have learnt a lot. You’ve been treated terribly but you’ve still managed to forgive, not regret and cherish the experience. Over the years you have taken your life back for yourself and have learnt that you can do and achieve all that you want without a man. You’ve learnt that you need to love you before he can love you. I’m happy to be alone this Valentines Day because you’ve shown me that I don’t need just one day for me to appreciate myself; I have 364 other days.” –KruRai, Gaborone, Botswana

“You know what I love about me? I love my heart–it knows no bounds or limitations, it just loves people unconditionally…no matter how hurt I’ve been in the past. I love my wit & sense of humor–I am ridiculously funny, and I think that is awesome. I love my interests & talents, and how they fuse together to make one incredible individual. I love my fashion sense, I love my compassion, I love my ability to give amazing advice. Physically, I love my freckles, my curves, and my naturally wavy auburn hair. Mentally, I love my ability to reason and use logic. I love my laugh. I love how I handle confrontation. I love my silliness, my surprising skills at Nintendo 64, my cooking talents, my absence of shame or regret, that I can drink most people under the table, and my lack of modesty about how incredible I am. I don’t need a man because my happiness doesn’t come from ANY other individual–it comes from me. My happiness doesn’t depend on someone’s opinion of my body, my talents, or my character. I don’t need a man because I am surrounded by incredible people that can do all the things I can’t: I have girlfriends that I can talk to about anything, will take me out to dinner “just because”, and are more fun than anyone else on the planet. I already have a strong base of incredible men in my life, who will always be there to squish spiders & help me move large furniture (as well as remind me that I am beautiful & an incredible woman). I don’t need a man because I have an incredible family that supports me & loves every little thing about me. I don’t need a man because, simply, I don’t have time or energy while I’m focusing on my new job, new apartment, and new city. What makes me fabulous? I think all of these things do. Being completely self-assured & hopeful about the future is a big deal, even if you’re only 23. Given the things I’ve been through, witnessed, and experienced, optimism seems kind of silly–I’m not optimistic, I am 100% positive that good things are going to happen for me in every part of my life, and this includes falling in love. I am still so young and there are so many people out there to meet, there’s no time to be focused on what ISN’T happening right now. Being able to see that there are good things ahead makes me a different kind of fearless, and I am proud of that. Also, Beyonce is married to Jay-Z & STILL talks about how fun it is to be single. Given that Beyonce is fucking fearless & fierce, doesn’t that mean all single gals have something to do an incredible dance about? I think so.” – Michelle, Washington, DC

“Can you believe you’re spending this Valentines Day in London? Not too shabby of a suburban Canadian girl. Two years ago, you were just an anxious 18 year-old high school senior. You couldn’t wait to get going in life but wasn’t quite ready to leave the home you grew up in. A lot has happened and changed since then. Just look at what a whirlwind these last 12 months have been. You worked for that big Internet company, studied abroad in Paris, branched out in the international photography community, and now live in the United Kingdom. I know it’s been challenging at times, like the week when you got no sleep trying to juggle work, school, and photography, having to build a nest for yourself each time you moved to a new city, all the holidays you celebrated away from family and friends, and that first birthday you spent completely alone. Despite all of that, and perhaps even because of all of that, you’ve become stronger – more confident, more certain, more humble, and, most importantly, more fearless. You’ve learned to make new friends anywhere you go, embrace all the opportunities that come your way, and stay grounded with the endless love and support of family and friends. Some day you’re going to look back on this year of endless travels and exciting opportunities and realize you are living the life. Keep dreaming big and don’t wake up too soon. Love, TZ.” –Tracy, London, England

“This will probably be the only Valentine you get this year, apart from the annual pity card from your mum, though even that this year may not be there now you have drifted back home. By now your used to valentines alone, to seeing others receive gifts and mocking them (without a hint of jealousy – you wish) but this year will be different, because this year for the first time you actually love you and that is enough. For the first time this year you have realised that you actually quite like who you are. This is a big step and its taken 3 years of friendship from some pretty great people to get you there. So today be thankful that they are there, have been there and will be there. That they too realise that you need to be you, alone, until someone turns up who allows you to be you as well as being an us. They don’t judge you for pushing away J and R, for dashing their hopes for your romances and you have stopped judging yourself now too. So embrace this new happiness, keep defining yourself apart from others and please keep being the best friend i have. With or without a man i promise to keep loving you, not return to the self loathing that has plagued many a past memory. I love you and you love me so happy valentines. I’m happy you’ll always be mine.” –Anonymous

“Happy Valentine’s Day! Year number 14 on my own (with 1 oops in there somewhere). Congratulations for being such a strong woman, to make it on your own. While men are nice to have around, and every year I hope, will this be the year I get roses?, I think, I can buy roses myself. I can hang a picture, I can mow my yard, I can even change the headlight on my car. So while I think we all secretly wish for Mr. Right to find us before Valentine’s Day (so we can receive the chocolate and roses) celebrate that you are the fabulous woman you are; call a girlfriend, who also is waiting for Mr. Right, and go out to dinner; take each other a rose and share a heart-shaped box of candy while watching one of those girlie movies that men don’t really care for anyway. And enjoy being You!” –Anonymous

“You’re beautiful inside and out. You’re worth more than you think and you deserve more than you get. You don’t need another half to make you whole, you do damn find out on your own. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, you did it without a man’s help. Valentine’s day is about love, who’s to say you have to spend it with a man? I love myself, therefore, my valentine is myself.. the only person who will never let me down.” –Katie, Cleveland, OH

“You are fabulous. You’re fabulous when you’re single, you’re fabulous when you’re with a man, and you’re fabulous even when you make mistakes. Live it, learn it, love it. xoxo Cat.” –Cat, New York, NY

“One day someone will fully appreciate you for all that you are. Someone will love you for being strong, forgiving and understanding the way you love those things about yourself. Until you find someone who adores you for those things instead of feeling challenged or threatened by them, then you’re better off single and in love with yourself.” –Suzanne, Canton, OH

“You rock because you know what it takes to make yourself happy…adventure and the company of people who contribute to your dreams. A man is like a good accessory. It completes the outfit but doesn’t break the look when it’s not there :)” –Brittainey, Des Moines, Iowa

“I just want to say what an honour it is to get to know you. After being surrounded by people all week, I look forward to spending some quiet time alone with you, whether it be a quiet evening on the couch with a glass of wine, or a run along the river, or a play in the park with the hounds. Taking time to listen to your fears and your aspirations. Making plans for the future, understanding what makes you happy, is time well spent in my book. I observe with a little touch of awe, your strength to deal with the tough times with your chin up and a wide smile for those who need it. It is truly a pleasant surprise to take stock and see how far you have come, despite the setbacks. You strive to face your flaws with dignity and whilst I know you consider it somewhat a failure to have those imperfections, I remind you that it is an admirable trait to humbly forgive those who hurt you- even if it does take a year or two (or longer). You have every right to feel pleased that you have not given up hope for one day again feeling that rush of excitement coupled with the warm glow of a steady, secure love. You have the right to be proud that you have not settled for the company of a man who treated you poorly, regardless of how completely you loved him nor how crippling at times the loss of that love has felt. You have the right to be proud that you have not settled for the company of a man who adored you, but with whom you could not summon the heart-swelling emotion which you know he deserves in return. And so it is that this Valentine’s Monday, you have the pleasure of spending the evening in the company of someone who understands you, who loves you and who will never leave you. Truly, the very best of company- mine! Happy Valentine’s Day!” –Serene, Perth, Australia

“I love your boldness, independence, undying love and compassion for others, and your ability to put anyone in their place. Yes, you have your flaws, but each of them is a blessing. They make you who you are. Love them. Cherish them. Your confidence is your best feature. If men and women alike cannot appreciate it, and run scared instead, then take it indirectly as a compliment. Compliments are wonderful, as you know, but you are responsible for your own happiness. So, no long face today because you have the best Valentine in the world–yourself. You will always be there for yourself for better or for worse. You love unconditionally. You’ll never walk out, or cheat. And when the day is done, you will be all that you need to stand on your own two feet and simply be. You are a peaceful warrior. Good things are still to come. At the end of the day, you are going to be perfectly fine being solo. You made your own dinner reservations. No one was late. The meal (and the wine) will be pure bliss. You will still get your chocolaty goodness and flowers, but without the drama, stress, and embarrassment (maybe). You get to be yourself, in your pajamas, in your hotel room (you can thank work later) without a care in the world. Sounds like the perfect day to me.” –Nelson, Lexington, VA

“Dear Darling Valentine, You totally deserved the creme suede lounge you just bought yourself for your new apartment (and the black satin robe that goes with it). Who wants a man when you’re working with something like that? Looking forward to laying with you in luxury, <3 FT.” –Cady, Durham, NC

“I love that you’ve come this far. I love that you didn’t let your past determine your future. You don’t need a man to shape the most important few years of your life, while being a 20 something year old. That’s what friends, vacations, and credit cards are for. You’re fabulous because you can stand strong on your own, and lead a career more promising than any guy you’ve been with. Being single this Valentine’s Day will be one of the best because ‘After all, the company of confidence is much better than the company of a coward.'” –Anonymous

“I shouldn’t feel any less special or loved on a day where love ought to come from everyone, everywhere. I may be single, but let’s be honest, we all have dozens upon dozens of Valentine’s, and each is as important and special as any significant other. Sure I won’t be getting “up close and personal” with any of these people, but I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. And it has to be said, there’s nothing like getting roses from my dad every single year without fail. Now that’s commitment.” – Anonymous, Canada

“You never tell yourself that you are amazing, even though you are. Despite all of the social pressures, you have lived a truly unique life. Somehow, you have managed to experience and accomplish more things than most people will in their lifetime. Valentine’s Day has never been happy occasion in the past, but why be so hard on yourself just because one facet of your life isn’t the usual? If you look closely, living outside the lines has been the motto for your 28 years. You are beautiful, hilarious, and refuse to compromise on what you want out of life. Take today, and celebrate this beautiful life you have made for yourself and the amazing woman that is unfolding before everyone’s eyes. Don’t let anyone make you second-guess yourself or the choices you are making right now. You are surrounded by love no matter where you go!” -Kelly, Phoenix, AZ

“For the first time since middle school, you’re happy to be single on Valentine’s Day. Your recent trip to Israel helped you discover more about you in 12 days, than you knew in the past 25 (almost) years. Congratulations on being able to laugh off the mushy stuff. Enjoy this day as it was meant to be, sharing life, love, and happiness with your closest friends.” –Sharon, Massachusetts

“Dear Blonde, Do you love yourself? Check YES or NO. Wait a minute, honey. Don’t make a move just yet. I know you’re wanting to pick up a cute pink pen and place a great big mark next to “YES”, but it seems lately that you haven’t really been SHOWING yourself much love. No, not that kind of self-love. The emotional kind. The good stuff. Most days, you’re a happy-go-lucky single girl out to even the score. I see you check yourself in the mirror some mornings, I’ve seen the wink and smile. You’re awesome and you know it. Your blonde hair shines almost as bright as your personality. You’re witty, you’re passionate. I’l be honest, this version of yourself? IRRE-FREAKIN-SISTABLE, honey. But some days, there is no look in the mirror. No wink, no smile, just a sigh. Listen, I know you’re worried. What if karma is punishing me in some weird way? I mean, you weren’t a great girlfriend sometimes. Yep, you’ve made mistakes with relationships. But honestly, Blonde, who hasn’t? It’s time you stop beating yourself up over things that happened in the past. It’s been a long time. You’ve changed. Everyone that knows you can tell how absolutely fabulous you’ve become! And on the days that you’ve got the wink and smile, you know it too. So, repeat after me: “I AM THE BLONDE, AND I AM FABULOUS!” Now, once you believe that, feel free to pick up the pen and check yes. XOXO, The Blonde.” -The Blonde

Much love to Tall Brewnette for this lovely Valentine!