I love early matinées with handfuls of trailers. I love slow solo shopping, taking my time or, if I'd rather, jutting in and out in five seconds flat. I love browsing online for expensive, authentic heels I'll never own—but, just in case, saving the link. I love writing to-do lists in colored sharpies and crossing out completed tasks with a proofreader's curl. I love Aggie football games, when the weather is just so and the fans are roaring with every first down and I have salty nachos drizzled with fake oozy cheese. I love turning onto my street and catching a glimpse of a package resting against the front door. I love mosaic tables. I love when I wake up at 7am on a Saturday and remember I can sleep a few more hours if I want to, and I always want to. I love splashing Tabasco sauce on my scrambled eggs. I love long, leisurely road trips when I'm in the passenger seat, reading a trashy tabloid or listening to Wideawake's first CD. I love fountain drinks filled to the brim, in a Styrofoam cup. I love warm donut holes and chocolate milk on a rare Saturday morning. I love boutique jewelry, beaded and dangle-y and fun. I love crossword puzzles. I love snazzy champagne flutes filled to the brim with bubbly. I love walking into a hotel room and being met with cold, crisp air—the kind of air one can only fully enjoy when not being responsible for the electric bill. I love pepperoni and jalapeño pizza, with a side of tangy Ranch dressing and, even better, a cold Bud Light to wash it all down with. I love Nars lip gloss and dark nail polish. I love the jellyfish exhibit at The Monterey Bay Aquarium and this one gelato joint on Taraval in San Francisco. I love Central Market's cheese aisle, and hoping one day—by the grace of Giada—I'll be able to walk up and confidently pluck out just the right cheese to accompany this or that dish. I love romantic stories behind song lyrics and I sometimes wonder if she did miss him while she was looking for herself out there. I love lavender roses, faint and full. I love learning. I love dressing up and dressing down, equally. I love walking out my door in late November, early December, to smell the first chimney smoke of the season and imagining S'mores being smashed together somewhere just out of reach. I love the way a soft, worn-in T-shirt hangs on a man's back. I love the color purple (all shades—deep, light, pale, rich) and I love the taste of garlic and pesto. I love prosecco and fruit-filled cupcakes. I love redenvelope.com and monogramming. I love clean sheets and heavy covers and crawling into bed with a full TiVo and a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. I love doggy-earring catalogs and then browsing on eBay for each and every wanted item. I love chili cheese fries and buffalo wings. I love the dream of one day having my own library. I love hardwood floors and the sound of deep, full laughter. I love hiking. I love a long day at the beach, with a book and no plans. I love finding new places to visit—Lithuania, Ecuador, Croatia, British Columbia, Thailand, Boston. I love an organized inbox and sending "just because" cards and packages. I love wasting entire afternoons in Target, searching out gifts to give. I love horribly angst-y teen dramas and, yes, a certain reality television program that is best known for having "the most dramatic rose ceremony ... EVER." I love floppy puppy ears and people who are easy in their own skin. I love montages and "best of" reels. I love kindness, in a million different forms. I love how squirrels are always running to get somewhere. I love bright colored winter coats and the combined flavor of raspberry and chocolate. I love Potato Shack in College Station and bars you don't have to dress up to walk into. I love Stern Grove and the desert night air and exhaling. I love dreaming big and hoping for something grand and believing things can be different just up ahead. I love the ordinary beauty of my life with its million-trillion flaws and its scary stops and starts and its painful inadequacy and its subtle disappointments and its sometimes falling short and its forcing me to never—not for one teensy-tiny moment—give up on myself, the one person guaranteed to be with me every day of my life.
This is my list.
*I challenge you to make your own list. The only catch? You can't include a single person you know on your list. No "I love the way my husband laughs" or "I love hearing my little girl call for me." It'll be tough, I know. (Think about it, I couldn't include MOLLY on my list.) But this particular little exercise is about stripping away everyone who defines you and figuring out what you (not his partner; not their mother/daughter/sister/friend) love.