Dear Max

Dear Max,

I can’t believe I’m not going to see you again. Honestly it’s completely surreal that you’re gone. I love you so much that I’m okay with you going to heaven, because I know you’re so much better off there than you would be if you were still here, struggling to breathe and make it through each night at home. I’m so sorry for not coming home since Christmas Break. I know that I should have tried to come home, and I promise you baby that I would have if I had known. But it’s probably better that we didn’t know the last time we saw each other was going to be the last time. I was able to hug and kiss you goodbye without tears, and now the next time I see you will be when I’m in heaven with you.

Please don’t get frustrated with me for crying a lot over losing you. I know you’re probably up in heaven, chasing little yappy dogs and bubbles {if there are little girls there to blow you bubbles—maybe that’s just between you, me, and Mom}, and can’t understand why any of your family down here would be upset over knowing how happy you are now that you’re in heaven. But I guess that’s the selfish nature of grief: you cry over your own sadness at losing someone rather than celebrating the fact that they are in a place infinitely more comfortable and joy-filled than we on earth can even begin to comprehend.

There’s so much about you that I love so much. I love the way you would rest your head on my lap once in a while when we’d lay on the couch together. I love the way you would put your paws over my legs to keep me from getting up and leaving when I would lay down next to you. I love the way you chomped for bubbles when I’d blow them for you. I love the way you followed Mom and I if we left the room for a moment. I love the way you would walk right in front of the TV, making the awful clacking sounds on the tile floor. I love the way you would beg for my lunch or dinner, and I love the way you never failed to convince me to save you a French fry with your cute begging face. I love the way you devoured your treats. I love the way you would let me hug you {or force-love you, whatever you want to call it}. I love you so much that right now it feels like I can’t bear this loss.

But I know you were suffering, and I want you to know that I in no way am upset with you for being sick. If I had it my way sweet boy, you would have lived forever and been my companion for the rest of my days. Your body would have stayed young and healthy for years to come, and I would never have wanted you to leave my side for a minute. I don’t know why dog bodies don’t get to last as long as human ones, but I do know that human bodies wear out eventually, too, and that when mine does, I’m going to come back as your girl. I’m going to do everything I can do in my life to be kind and good, so that I can go to heaven, just like I know you have. I know that because you are the best kind of creature.

Please do me a favor up there and check on Citrus. I think you’ll remember him—we had him before we adopted you, but he went on to heaven four years ago. He’s orange like you, and he’s a good kitty. You used to be worried he would scratch you, but he was such a good boy that he never did.

Baby Mac, if you can read this or get this message somehow {I really hope you can}, please visit me in my dreams sometime. Your spirit is always welcome anywhere I am, I promise. I will look for you.

Don’t forget me, Maxwell. I love you so much. I will never ever forget you, no matter where I go or how many other nice dogs I meet. I know you could always be sort of jealous when I would pet other dogs, so just know that you’re my number one.

When Mom said that you were having some heart problems, I prayed so hard that you would recover. I wish I could have done more. I can’t believe the amount of pain and stress you must have felt when you got sick. I’m grateful beyond words that you got sick fast and did not suffer for very long {sweet baby, I hope you did not suffer for long at all}. I hope you know that we all selfishly would have liked to keep you alive out of sheer love for you, but at the same time, we loved you so much that we could not bear to keep you in pain. And now I know that you will spend every day that I am stuck in school or work outside playing and chasing rabbits and other animals {pick on someone your own size!!!!}.

Look after Mom and the rest of our family, and your sisters too. Visit them at home sometimes, and keep them in your heart. They all love you so much. You are so much more loved than I can even express to you, but I know that you understand it because you have an incredible capacity for love, way more than I’ve ever seen in any other doggie.  You were my best friend during my whole childhood and my teenage years, and I am so grateful to have had you for all that time. I wouldn’t have chosen another dog to be mine for anything in the world.

Love,

Your Girl

Why I would pick Jack Johnson

Today one of my friends asked me an interesting (an immensely challenging) question. If you were going to be stuck listening to just one musician’s music for the rest of your life, who would it be? I don’t know why people play these ridiculous games and ask themselves these ridiculous questions, but for some reason, I find myself contemplating these types of questions all the time.

They’re not easy. In what strange parallel universe would we have the freedom to pick one artist’s music, but only that one? I thought and thought. Like anyone else my age, I have a great deal of “favorite artists.” My boyfriend even teases me for how many things I term “my favorite.” We use the phrase “favorite favorite” for something that is even more my favorite than all my other favorites.

So, when the question was phrased, my mind immediately began to race. I think of myself as having more of a “feel” when it comes to music than one single artist. I love mellow music. I’d say I like stoner music, but I’ve never smoked in my life, and it’s just not really my thing. But, if you’re curious about my taste in music, think big outdoor summer music festival: Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Firefly, you get the feeling. 90s music makes me feel so at peace; it’s what I grew up on! Throw on some Matchbox Twenty, Blink-182, Oasis, or Third Eye Blind, and I’ll feel right at home.

But my favorite type of music lies somewhere between Lana del Ray’s smooth voice and John Mayer’s musicality.  I thought about both these artists: I think they’re both quite talented, and I enjoy listening to their music. But Lana doesn’t have enough songs yet to be stuck with just those few songs for the rest of my life. John Mayer was tougher. He has many albums, plus all the live recordings that are different from the recorded versions to provide variety. I love his music, and I love when he does covers of other musicians, too. But I decided too much of John Mayer’s stuff was sad, and if I was going to be stuck with one kind of music for the rest of eternity, it had better be something that made me happy. So then I thought, Matt Nathanson makes me happy (if you haven’t heard of him, I highly recommend that you check him out. His stuff is fabulous, seriously.) But a lot of his stuff, too, feels generally sad.

I realized what mattered to me most was not who was the best, who had the most albums, etc., but simply where each musician/band’s music took me when I listened to it. When I listen to Jack Johnson, I’m on a warm beach somewhere, closing my eyes, with a fancy frozen drink in my hand. Even his sadder stuff has a beachy feel, and you can’t help smiling during the vast majority of his songs.

Who would you pick?

More soon.

Why Hawaii is Better than Reality

What’s your fantasy escape from the real world? On a rough day, where does your mind drift away to, just to forget the stupid stuff going on?

My personal favorite escape, at least lately, is Hawaii. I fantasize about going away to the tropical islands, drowning in hibiscus flowers and the romance of wearing a lei and sitting out on the beach, tanning with a good magazine. I put on some Jack Johnson music {personal favorites on a particularly difficult day include Constellations, You and Your Heart, Breakdown, Banana Pancakes, and Better Together}. Everyone has somewhere they can go in their head and be miles away from wherever they are in real life. Sometimes, when Hawaii doesn’t sound so great, I go to Disney World. That’s when I’m in drowning in adult responsibilities and just want to feel like a kid again, because Disney takes me away from all that.

But Hawaii is where I go when I just feel overwhelmed by life in general, and don’t mind being an adult, but just want to escape work/school/life for a few days/weeks/millennia.  I love my life, in general. I have a great family, a sweet boyfriend, and I’m a college student {many people claim these are the best years of your life}. But even with all that, there are days that get hard. I spend too much time worrying about money. How will I get through the rest of school without accumulating a nice chunk of federal loans? And will I make it through my hardest classes without failing and having to retake them, thus setting me off track for the whole rest of my life?  Will I make it once I get out of school? Will I be able to find a job? I gained a few pounds this semester—am I getting fat?

Hawaii me doesn’t worry about any of these things. She’s only concerned with reapplying sunscreen every two hours, staying hydrated out on the beach, and keeping a refreshing drink in her hand. She worries more about what to do for dinner tonight than anything else. She meets friendly local Hawaiians and stays in a luxurious hotel. Sometimes she goes to the spa, just because laying on the beach every day gets old. Money is no object. Hawaii me can read books, play on her phone, whatever. She’s thin and looks great in her bikini without trying. Every guy wants to date Hawaii me. And all she wants to do is listen to her iPod and relax.

Someday I want to go to Hawaii. I want to spend a week there doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every moment of it. Until then, it’s back to hitting the books, and hoping that I make it through another day.

More soon.

Why Being a Romantic is Hard On the Heart

Life is complicated and messy. There will be conflicts and confusing moments. I feel like real life is filled with people like myself and people like my boyfriend. I’m on one end of the spectrum. I try to make something out of everything. I look for signs. I pretend I’m starring in my own movie. I romanticize the little stuff. And he doesn’t. I think he believes in a much more functional type of love. Not the big romance and the movie moments, but the simple facts that a long-term relationship implies. Brushing your teeth because you had onions on your burger at dinner and you don’t wanna kiss until you feel confident about your breath.  Meeting in the library to study together, instead of jetting off to a bed and breakfast for the weekend. I don’t know. I think I have this unrealistic view of love that books and movies gave me growing up. I won’t apologize for it, because I love the way my mind looks at love. But sometimes I worry that I’m always going to be desiring more and more from a guy, and I know that that isn’t fair to him.

The older I get, the more I think lots of girls {at least, the dreamers like myself} have this same problem. We want the first kiss to be under fireworks after the perfect date, not a drunken kiss in a bar after six mixed drinks and seeing your ex-boyfriend out with another girl. But that’s real life. Real life is meeting a guy on Tinder, fighting over who has to do the laundry this time, complaining to your friends about how annoying your boyfriend’s mom is when he tells you his parents are coming to visit for the weekend. Real life is hearing the guy you’re dating say goodnight before you go to sleep, instead of having a beautifully-scripted paragraph ready to go to send you off to bed each night. And it can be really hard to revise your expectations. Especially if you’re like me, and you spend too much time listening to Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer. Songs will lead you to believe every guy is thinking these amazing things about you. That love is going to be bigger and grander than anything you could ever imagine. And maybe there are some guys out there like that {hit me up}, but I don’t think too many people are like that. I think we’re all too shy and nervous and vulnerable to be like that in a relationship. Because we look at relationships as being a contest. The person who cares more about the other person instantaneously loses by default. So we play the I-care-less-than-you game. I refuse to play. I’ve always been of the belief that competition kills a relationship. Mini-golf and bowling scores don’t count, of course. But comparing how many girls he’s kissed to how many guys you have isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter. You both have a past. But you’re together now. And it can’t be a contest if you ever want it to work out.

Romantics everywhere, I know it’s hard to give up this preconceived notion of love and romance. It’s hard to let go of that and realize that real life isn’t the same as our fantasies. It’s hard because, in theory, the real thing isn’t nearly as exciting or enchanting as what we’ve created in our heads. But when you find someone who makes you truly happy, you’ll forget the fantasies you’ve built up for years and realize that the real, tangible thing you have with another person is a thousand times better than you ever could have imagined.

Why Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Seriously Romantic

I just finished watching it {probably for about the hundredth time in my life} but it’s still one of the most romantic movies of all time. The scene where he tells her people do belong to other people while she’s in the cab, running off to the airport to fly to Brazil? Serious Hollywood magic right there. And then when she runs after him in the rain, and finds her cat, and they kiss? 

No, those aren’t tears in my eyes. Your twenty-something is a romantic, guys.

My only complaint is that the book Breakfast at Tiffany’s  
is not nearly as romantic as the film portrays. Holly is basically a call-girl, the narrator doesn’t have a name at all, and the whole point of the story is that he’s curious what happened to the girl who lived in his building YEARS LATER {point being: they don’t even end up together}. So, sorry Capote, the movie takes the edge in this one {and that never happens}.

Top Ten Love Stories

Sometimes I’ll post “Top Ten” stuff on here, instead of “Why” posts. This is one of those times. My power was out during a snowstorm this past week and I wanted to make up for the lack of posts with some extra ones now. So, again in honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a Top Ten Love Stories {in Movies, TV Shows, Books, etc.}. I’m not saying these are the ones that I’d call my absolute, end-all, be-all favorite love stories of all time, but I do think they have the most relatable feelings, stories, and characters around. I think that they best capture the feelings we’ve all had, and that you’ll find yourself emotionally invested in their outcome. I’m sure I missed some of your favorites, and I hope you’ll forgive me for that {but I did try to work in as many honorable mentions as I could}! I hope you enjoy!

10: Cosette and Marius {Les Miserables}: This is one of the only bright points in an otherwise heartbreaking musical {and book}.  It would take up the length of this entire post {and then three more} to tell even an abbreviated synopsis of the whole story, but the cut-down Marius/Cosette plotline is fairly simple. A poor girl with corrupt parents named Eponine is deeply in love with a student named Marius who is kind and liberal-minded in pre-Revolutionary France, and Marius falls in love with the pretty, girlish Cosette who was raised by Eponine’s parents before being adopted by a kind man and given a proper upbringing, leaving Eponine with her cruel parents to basically grow up in the streets. What great love doesn’t have some complicated other-woman plotline going on? Marius never strays from Cosette for a moment, not even really seeing that Eponine cared for him until she dies. Marius and Cosette sing of their love for each other and marry, but face tragedies and nearly lose each other along the way. It’s a beautiful story. Honorable mentions here include some other great musical loves: Melchior and Wendla from Spring Awakening, Christine and Raoul {and the Phantom too?!} in Phantom of the Opera {love triangles to the max}, and perhaps my favorite and the most beautiful love story in any musical: Kim and Chris {and Ellen} in Miss Saigon.

9: Ariel and Eric {The Little Mermaid}: Say whatever you want about me putting a couple from a Disney movie on this list: most of your first love experiences were in animation. There’s a simplicity to these loves, sure, but there’s also a purity that’s truly beautiful. Ariel longs to be a human and walk on two legs before she ever sees Eric, but once she sees a human guy and falls in love with him, being a mermaid is as unbearable for her as ever. A lot of people have looked at this movie negatively, as it displays a young girl leaving behind her family for a guy, and I completely get that. But if you look at the movie from a child’s perspective {this movie was a formative experience for me as a kid} you see the ultimate in romance. It’s sweet, it’s gentle, true love prevails. Honorable mentions from other Disney movies: Belle and Beast from Beauty and the Beast, because it taught me to look past appearances to see a person’s true self underneath; Anna and Kristoff from Frozen, because it shows a girl finding out that the first guy you date might turn out to be fundamentally bad {which is new territory for cartoons}, and Cinderella and Prince Charming because it’s just so freaking perfect.

8: Baby and Johnny {Dirty Dancing}: Because duh. It’s such a good movie, even my current-day boyfriend will stop what he’s doing and watch it with me when it comes on. It’s a classic. I like that it displays a happy, complicated, teenage relationship that has no definitive ending. You’re allowed to decide whether you think Johnny and Baby break up or stay together. They can’t stay on summer vacation forever, so it’s kind of a sad story in that way. I always kind of looked at it as a first-love, coming-of-age narrative that has no tearjerker moments. Honorable mentions: Sloane and Ferris from Ferris Bueller because they have a happy relationship that still isn’t sappy; and Claire and John in Breakfast Club, because I don’t think a single girl didn’t want to date a bad boy after seeing them share a kiss after their detention {also, their ragging on each other all day built up some serious sexual tension by the end of the movie}.

7: Anna and Vronsky {Anna Karenina}: Confession time: I never finished Anna Karenina. I tried and tried and tried, and I still have a copy of it that’s probably been started and then abandoned about 10 times over the course of my lifetime, but I just never completed the book. It’s very good, but it’s very long, and extremely heavy.  A lot of the themes revolve around Russian politics and culture, and my primary interest in the book had to do with Anna more than anything else.  But the Anna story is really incredible. She’s married to a prominent man in politics, and everything seems like it’s going well in their marriage until you really start to see her flirt with this other guy, named Vronsky, who’s depicted as a bit younger than her {certainly younger than her husband}. They have to conceal their romance because adultery was such a taboo during this era in Russia.  But as the spark between Vronsky and Anna grows, they become more careless about who sees them together, and eventually Anna grows to despise her husband so much that she tells him she is having an affair, after Vronsky nearly dies in a horse race accident. Her husband is understandably upset, but still tries to make their marriage work. Eventually Anna leaves him to be with Vronsky and they run away together. But while Anna is seen in their culture as a ruined woman, Vronsky is still a bachelor, and his mother is still trying to lure him away from Anna and into a marriage with a nice girl. He does not accept, but Anna still grows angry and hurt by this, and eventually throws herself under a train to commit suicide when she decides that she does not have Vronsky’s love any more {even though she still does}. It’s heartbreaking and melodramatic and totally captures the “he just doesn’t love me as much as I love him” feeling that every teenage girl has with her first true love. Honorable mention:  Countess Olenska and Newland Archer in The Age of Innocence, one of my favorite novels of all time {and a less heartbreaking story}.

6: Angel and Collins {Rent}: I loved Rent from the first time I ever saw it on stage in high school. The movie is good, too, but doesn’t capture the love between Tom Collins and his cross-dressing boyfriend, Angel. It sounded weird before I saw the show, but once you see the clear love between the two characters, nothing could be more natural. They fall into a relationship as quickly and easily as anyone could. Angel is kind and understanding about everything. When Angel dies, it is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in a musical ever. I don’t think there’s a dry eye in the theater! Angel brings all the people in the show together, because he’s so much better a person than the rest of them can be, and he makes them stay friends with one another when they fight {by saying that they’re family}. Honorable mention: Roger and Mimi from Rent, because they have a beautiful, complicated love that everyone else can see but them. It takes her dying in his arms and coming back to life for him to tell her he loves her, but once they’ve both admitted it, you just know they’re never going to be apart again. It’s a happy ending for a musical that could have ended so tragically.

5: Elizabeth and Darcy {Pride and Prejudice}: I guess you can’t make a list like this without including a Jane Austen couple. They’re the classic misunderstood love. They dislike each other from the start, and grow on one another from there. It keeps the rest of us hopeful that someone we barely notice might be in love with us secretly. It’s never been a personal favorite, but I liked the book a lot.  I preferred the characters in Austen’s Mansfield Park, and actually found myself rooting more for Jane and Bingley when I read P&P. Honorable Mention: Emma and Mr. Knightley {who gave rise to characters in one of my favorite 90s movies, Clueless}.

4: Tony and Maria {West Side Story}: What story captures young love better than Romeo and Juliet? I picked West Side Story just because I like the music so much, and always have. It’s romantic, it’s gooey, and it captures how you feel when you’re sixteen and meet the person who you first want to say “I love you” to so well it’s eerie.  The first time I saw it I cried like a baby. Tony and Maria come from completely different worlds, and are some of the only people on the planet who their families would ask them not to be with. It’s so romantic! They even have a secret wedding in the shop where Maria works so that they can be together forever. But the most heartbreaking part {“Somewhere”} is the fact that they are perfect for one another, but are simply not allowed to be, by their families, society, and the way New York City gangs worked. “There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us,” still brings tears to my eyes. When Tony dies and Maria decides to stay alive instead of going with him, you’re crying. End of story. I like that she chooses to live, though. I admire her strength over Juliet in the classic story.  Honorable Mentions: obviously Romeo and Juliet, and also Jack and Rose from Titanic, who also come from different worlds {the guy also dies in this one, while the girl goes on to live without him}.

3: Rick and Ilsa {Casablanca}: This is another love story that everyone just gets. The one that got away. The girl that would give up what she has for what she wants, but the guy loves her enough to make her do what’s ultimately going to make her happy. It’s so filled with classic quotes and memorable scenes that you’ve probably already gotten the gist of the story from popular culture. I’ll admit that I find the outcome of the whole thing highly unsatisfying, just because it’s so heartbreaking. You want to see people end up happily together, and this story just doesn’t end that way. But I guess that’s realistic, and that’s what great love stories are all about. Honorable mention: Paul and Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s because it’s the guy falling madly in love with a girl who just doesn’t care {or at least is good at pretending not to – this movie taught me how to get anything I wanted from a guy who liked me, as long as I pretended to like him less}.

2: Blair and Chuck {Gossip Girl}: I don’t care about people laughing at my putting two characters from Gossip Girl second on the best love stories of all time, because it’s just what it is. You can laugh, but you probably haven’t seen the show. It’s an instant classic. The guy starts out as a bad boy, always going from girl to girl, and ultimately falls in love with a girl he’s been friends with his whole life. And even when he has her, he freaks out over being committed and stands her up, losing her again and again. You always want them to stay together, but one of them is always screwing the other one over. It can be really heartbreaking, as superficial as it sounds. But, despite both doing really screwed up things, they’re truly perfect for one another, and you find yourself rooting for them in spite of themselves. They’re well-dressed, classy, rich, elegant, and yet raw and unpolished in many ways, too. The perfect contradictions. They’re the definition of a power-couple. Honorable mentions: Derek and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy {because Dr. McDreamy is perfect and you just really want Meredith to find the right guy who makes her want to settle down, and when Addison shows up to mess up their perfect relationship you basically hate her even though she’s totally nice}, and Chandler and Monica from Friends, even though I love Ross and Rachel too, because Chandler and Monica are always there for one another, are funny and enjoy teasing each other, and never stray from their feelings. It doesn’t take fifty years for the two of them to get together, they just fall into bed one night and become inseparable and in love after that. It’s cute.

1: Scarlett and Rhett {Gone with the Wind}: What can I say about this couple? They’re my favorite book, my favorite movie, my favorite everything. The first love story I had a real connection to. Scarlett is undoubtedly one of the most disliked movie characters of all time, and yet you find yourself hoping that she’ll get over Ashley and appreciate Rhett all the same. You want her to wake up and see how much he loves her {because who treats a spoiled brat that good without loving them unconditionally}. And for those of us who grew up in the south and wanted to be a belle, it’s heavenly. The dresses, the dialogue, and the man who pines for you for years on end before finally convincing you to get married to him, it’s just too good to be true. I love it. Scarlett and Rhett are one-of-a-kind. They have a big love, in a way that no other love on this list can quite measure up to, just because it doesn’t span tragedies, heartbreaks, loves, affairs, and the backdrop that this movie has. It’s flawless.

More soon.

Why Love is Confusing for Twentysomethings

In honor of Valentine’s Day yesterday, I’m going to share a little about love in my life, and my general thoughts on love as a whole.

It’s complicated. Love isn’t one of those things that you can explain with a simple dictionary definition, despite what everyone will say about their personal definition of love. I think that every person is different when it comes to love, and every individual loving relationship is different. You can love your parents, your dog, and your best friends, but it’s not going to be anything like the first time you’re “in love” with someone. The first time you fall in love, it kind of destroys you, in a weird way. At least for most people, who aren’t eternally destined to be with their first love. I know that’s how it was for me.

I would spend an hour or longer getting ready for every date, and be heartbroken if my first boyfriend didn’t text me within twenty minutes of waking up every morning. And in a lot of ways, all those things were really immature. I think a lot of people have their first serious relationship right at the age where they’re most insecure, and use their significant other as a shield from all the things they don’t like about themselves, or from all the things that they’re afraid of. Some people find a perfect, blissful place where they fit in with their boyfriend. A lot of people find a person who is just as self-absorbed and confused about life as they are, and determine that they’re better off separate.

I think that, when you’re in high school {and college, to some extent}, dating is about putting up cute pictures on Instagram on Valentine’s Day or your six-month anniversary to show everyone else in your life how happy you are. It’s about a guy posting “had a great night with my best friend in the whole world” on Facebook and a bunch of random people commenting “aww how sweet!” Because that kind of stuff feels so good when you’re seventeen and want to prove that you’re mature and adult, just like all the other people your age.

But then, around the start of college, when you break out of freedom and restrictions, you realize that dating is not any of the things you thought it was when you were in high school. Dating is sleeping over at someone’s apartment and leaving a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush at their place. It’s watching a movie you don’t like that much with your boyfriend on Friday night instead of going out to a bar with your friends and chatting with hot business majors. And, for a lot of people, especially in college, it’s just not worth it. Which is fine. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and all that. Date people who make you happy. I’m not saying you should date someone who only likes the same things as you {because boring}, but definitely don’t be with someone who won’t try any of the things that you enjoy. Close-minded people aren’t people you want around in your life, long-term.

I remember the first time I was in love really well. It was so new and amazing and, at the time, I think I would have done just about anything for the guy. He did so many things that should have been clear signals that he was not a good guy to end up with, but in high school you never see that stuff in a person {at least, I didn’t}. I spent countless hours contemplating why he pulled his hand away during a movie, or convincing myself that it was no big deal that he had let me walk back to my car alone in the dark, or telling myself I wasn’t worried about the fact that he was texting other girls even though we had been dating for a year and a half. But really, all those things mattered {and I’m NOT saying that, if your boyfriend has ever done any of these things, you should break up with him – you’re not me, and your relationship is not mine!}. Because the guy was my first love, I was always going to be hypersensitive to his moods and how they made me feel. I was always going to hate his pulling away from me, when I wanted to get closer. I was always going to feel like he wasn’t as gentlemanly as I deserved when he let me walk alone in the dark. I was always going to be jealous when he texted other chicks. After we broke up, I spent a lot of time wondering if all those things were my fault: if I was unnaturally jealous, or unnaturally concerned with how much of a gentleman a guy is, or unnaturally sensitive. Then I began wondering if he was just a complete jerk and I had been an enormous idiot not to see those things from the beginning.

But the truth is, it was not my fault, nor his. Two people may be perfectly good people separately, who simply aren’t meant to be together in a romantic relationship. We made each other into completely different people, and at our worst, I could become jealous, manipulative, and oversensitive. He could become careless, over-flirtatious, and downright mean. First loves do crazy things. But we’re both with other people now, and neither of us is bitter about the past. I’m so happy now, with another guy. We went to a movie last night, and held hands during a lot of it. Sometimes I would pull my hand away to brush hair out of my eyes or to take a sip of Coke, and he didn’t worry for a second that I no longer loved him because I took my hand away {and vice versa}. We trust each other. I don’t need constant attention and vocal confessions of his love and devotion to feel loved, because I’m more mature. I love myself. I know he does too.

You stop spending Valentine’s Day worried about what to get someone and hoping they get you something good, because you start to feel like every day of your relationship is Valentine’s Day. Your love is the present. You might get each other gifts too {because what girl doesn’t love a bouquet of roses on V-day?} but you don’t spend the month leading up to the holiday reminding him you like pink roses better than red ones. If he shows up with chocolates instead, you’re fine with it, because you get to spend your night with him, and that’s what matters most. But better yet, you get to spend every other night of the year with him, too. That’s what this holiday is about. Appreciating the person you already appreciate all the time. Reminding them that they’re super-special and that you love their company and their personality.

I hate when people say “I need {insert name here} in my life.” One of the great beauties of each person’s lifetime is getting to choose the person they want to spend their life with. You get that choice, you don’t have to be stuck with someone who makes you miserable just because you feel like you need them. I completely understand feeling like you can’t go on without your first love. Breakups are awful. Seriously. They suck so much. But you can go on with your life. You have to be sad first, and then you get to be happy. You might spend a Valentine’s Day drunkenly crying about how much you miss your ex, and how all your friends seem to be getting engaged while you’re not even dating anyone. I think most people have at least one experience like that in their lives. But by next Valentine’s Day, you could be with the person who makes you happier than anyone else ever has. And then you will realize that breaking up with that guy who made you miserable {but who you once claimed that you needed} was the best thing you ever did.

Be with someone who makes you a better person. Be with someone who makes you smile and laugh. Be with someone who makes you cry, too, because that means you care about them, too. But don’t be with someone whose absence makes you feel like you’re dying. Choose laughter and happiness over drama and fights.  Date a person who keeps you up all night with kisses and snuggles, not a person who keeps you up all night in tears, trying to decide if your relationship is worth it.

More soon.