(Image posted by Nathalie at weheartit.)

It’s not too late for a Valentine’s Day post, right??

I love Valentine’s Day, even on the years I don’t have a boyfriend (in fact, I usually prefer those years). I love the colors, the glitter, the chocolate. The inevitable pair of multi-colored heart socks I’ll get in the mail from my mom (thanks, mom!), and the excuse to get together with a bunch of girlfriends and drink cosmos. This year I made homemade valentines again. Nothing makes me happier than sitting on the floor with a bottle of glue, cardstock, a glass of wine, and a black-and-white movie. That’s true love.

And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about men. This is probably the longest I’ve gone without a significant other in, well, a long time. My last boyfriend had serious social anxiety issues, so really it’s been over three years since I’ve been part of a + one.

I’ve honestly enjoyed being single for a change, especially in the last few months. I’ve been grateful for the lack of drama and the space it’s freed up in my brain (boys are such a distraction…sheesh). I don’t like sharing myself, or my time, which is (I think) one of my biggest downfalls in relationships. I’m never 100% there. Even when I am in a relationship, I’m very much a do-my-own-thing kind of person, and I need my space. I don’t want to have to explain that yes, my only plan for the day is to curl up on the couch and read for ten hours straight, stopping only for tea and toast. Being single means I’m not accountable to anyone.

On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get lonely. And, sure, not having to answer to anyone or plan my hours around someone else’s schedule is nice, but there are times when it makes me kind of sad to realize that no one would notice if I didn’t make it home tonight. Or tomorrow. (Luckily, Jen calls if she hasn’t heard from me in a few days, to make sure I’m not lying on my kitchen floor or anything.) And once in a while, I get that overwhelming urge to just be held, to fall asleep curled up against another body–nothing more, nothing less. It’s an innate need for human touch–when we don’t have it for extended periods of time we start to feel like mini islands, off at sea. On those days, I’ve almost hugged random people on the subway when we’re packed in like sardines–just to be touched. (Yes, I am on my way to being certifiably crazy.)

It seems like I’ve turned into a cliche: I’m perpetually the single girl at the wedding, the loner in a party of couples. I’m used to it–used to being alone. But there were times when I was in Europe this summer, watching couples next to me take in the same amazing sights, that I would feel that pinch. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things in my life…by myself. My photo albums, from Italy to Beijing to Germany, are all of just me. Me and landscape. Me in the city. Me with food. Me with an occasional friend. Sometimes, the extent of my isolation surprises (and scares) me. Because I don’t feel lonely most of the time.

Here’s where the twist comes in.

I’ve recently started seeing someone–it’s something I started and never finished, to put it simply. So far, it’s completely unlike how any of my serious relationships have started. We’re careful and considerate of each other. There’s definite attraction, but no nights spent staying up until 5 am to watch the sun rise. There are no tears, no bubbles of resentment, no stifling happiness that makes it hard to breathe. There’s been none of the intensity I know myself capable of–the kind that’s hard to keep up at a steady pace for too long.

But that’s not to say that it isn’t new and exciting, or that I’m not filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions. We’re just more controlled about it. He’s a good person, and he makes me want to be good. He makes me feel like my usual tricks are a bit silly, because he respects me. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m approaching love like an adult, for the first time, and I’m trying to make the right choices. He’s a little older, and I’m a little older–and smarter–this time.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a moment to admit that I’ve been floating on a cloud (just a little…) the past few weeks. Now, when I picture birthdays and beaches and family parties and snapshots in Spain, I picture him there, too. I’m scared by that and everything it implies. But I’m also light-headed and giggly when I think about him; the difference is that, this time, I’ll be better about filtering that out. (A girl can’t lay all her cards on the table in the first round, right?)

And, since I’ve been sooo mature and adult about all this, I think I deserve a moment to indulge you with a song I’ve been humming along to all day. (Skip to 1:13 and you’ll recognize it.) And before you freak out, I’m not claiming to be in love already. It’s just a cute song!

Here’s Mitzi Gaynor, singing Wonderful Guy from South Pacific: