A Valentine’s Love Letter to Myself Written While the Pizza is in the Oven

While you’re making the nine o clock pizza, and the dough won’t stretch, don’t stare at that misshapen mess of holes and think, “Well, this is a good metaphor for my love life.”

Instead, keep patiently working that dough until it stretches into just the shape you need it to be, then think, “Now, this is a good metaphor for my love life.”

While you’re making that pizza, don’t play the Sharon Van Etten station on Pandora and listen to the song, “Sometimes I Don’t Think About You At All,” then think about when Caleb did the “12 Days of Valentine’s” in your first year of marriage where he gave you a thoughtful present every day, and your dad said (grumpily) that he was making the other men in your life look bad.

Don’t remember the year that your dad only gave your mom cherry bagels from the grocery store for Valentine’s Day, and you had always used that as an example of what you did not want in a man because, without a doubt, you knew that you wanted someone different from your dad. But the truth was that your dad was being funny, and he knew it, and your mom knew it, and the joke was that your dad loved your mom, and respected her, and as far as you know, was faithful to her, so the joke was, ultimately, Who cares about cherry bagels?

Don’t remember how you let Caleb use everything that you ever told him against you, how he said, “Well, at least I didn’t give you cherry bagels” when he made you lobster, and rubbed your shoulders, and gave you diamond earrings, but had also beaten you only days earlier.

When the Mazzy Star song “Fade Into You” comes on to your Pandora Station, don’t remember the year after high school, when you and your roommates laid side by side in your twin beds in Missoula, Montana, and listened to that song and willingly let yourselves be swept into melancholic fantasies about men you didn’t know because the ultimate fantasy was to be able to fade into someone

Then, years later, you actually did fade into someone, and it wasn’t beautiful. It was sad, and lonely, and very much like losing what little of yourself that you had left by then. 

Instead of focusing on that song, focus on the other dreams you had. You dreamed of being a writer. You dreamed of creating something beautiful. You dreamed of traveling. You dreamed of having a PhD. You dreamed of being able to comfortably support yourself. You dreamed of having the whole world.

You were never the person who dreamed of being a mother, but you became one anyway, and then, you found, unexpectedly, that being a mother suited you, and you were good at it, so let’s just say that was also a dream of yours.

Realize, that, while that dream you had of fading into someone only came true for a short period of your life, it was not a dream that you should have ever wanted.

Instead, you should have wanted what you have: a night spent writing in a tiny loft office above a snowy hollow in Appalachia while the rest of the world spins around you. You are two-thirds of the way finished with your PhD. You have a book coming out with a major New York publishing house. You will be spending your summer in Europe and your home state. Opportunities for you keep opening up, but above all else, you know that you are very, very loved. 

You might not be fading into someone, but you are living the life that you are meant to be living. This moment–of swirling snow outside, but warmth inside–is all that you can control, and it is a good moment.

And the pizza is done.