"i've looked at love/from both sides now/from give and take/and still somehow/it's love's illusions i recall/i really don't know love at all..."--Joni Mitchell
Looking back through my old photo albums, I realize I categorize time periods based on three things: where I was living, what I was wearing, and who I was loving. When I look back at old pictures of the early part of this decade, I always notice that I'm living in DC, wearing tight clothes and short, blonde hair and head over heels for "the love of my life". In some pictures, I look so sad, and it's all because of the ups and downs of falling in and out and in and out of love with him, and in other pictures I am positively glowing because he has me on top of the world. When I look at pictures of me over the past year, I live in Los Angeles, my clothes are still tight though my hair is long and black, and the spectre of romance has a mischievous gleam in my eye. But if anyone took a picture of me today, I would look back on it to see that for the first time in years, I am completely without any of these emotions. For the first time in years, I am a blank slate. A blank slate with a load of [often crippling] emotional baggage, but a blank slate nonetheless. Jokes aside, within the past year, I've officially said goodbye to three men that have each meant a lot to me for different reasons. One was "the love of my life" that turned out to, well, not be; another was a beloved old flame I'd thought might one day turn out to be "the one" that found love and, more recently, fatherhood; and the last was a refreshing but new addition that just simply didn't work out. It's a lonely place to be when you stop wanting what you had, stop needing to have what you want, and you're left with just yourself and what you do not have or want. It's weird to have no one to think of in the quiet moments and no one to share your free time, even, and sometimes especially if, you're a fiercely independent woman. Faced with the silence of having no one in your life, you're tempted to go backwards, to begin the "what if" scenario parade with all of your past loves, but they just don't fit anymore. So you're kind of left to deal with the fallout of your own personal choices, which have resulted in many tears and sleepless nights, but which without you wouldn't be headed where you're headed, which is probably someplace beyond your wildest dreams.