Road trips, bridges, and love.

Good morning, Dear Reader. I’m closing out a big weekend of self-care like I haven’t had in a very long time. Friday night started with indulging in Season 3 of the Netflix hit, You. And Saturday, as I promised in my last post, I hit the road about 8 am Saturday in 16-degree temps to start completing one of my 2022 bucket list items: See all four of the covered bridges in Missouri. Today is Sunday, and I’m closing the weekend with a pedicure, a massage, and (fingers crossed) hugs from two of my favorite humans.

Thanks, “What The Forecast” app.

The road trip kicked off perfectly. After dropping $50 worth of petro into the subbie, I set out with my thermos of coffee with cream, road atlas, ice scraper, and a small cooler of snacks. This trip did not disappoint in many ways.

Sadly, not a Milk Dud in sight.

First, no one was out – except about a dozen of Missouri’s Highway Patrol Officers. The sky was clear, and although it was cold, the weather was great.

Secondly, Dollar General’s were not in short supply, and we all know how much I loves me sum DG. I hit two of them just for the sheer fun of it.

Lastly, breakfast was terrific. Road trip breakfast rules really need their own post, but suffice it to say, I was all set after a bit of ‘the Trucker’s skillet’ in Mountain Grove. My belly was full and I wasn’t planning on any more significant stops.

I headed east from my hometown and braved Hwy 60 E to Hwy 34 N. That was “fun”. Hwy 34 is the kind of road most definitely designed by a drunk toddler and is littered with tiny country homes proudly displaying the confederate flag. In addition, the inhabitants of these rural counties clearly have not received the memo (or TPS reports or whatever) stating that Trump lost the last election, as witnessed by the tremendous amount of Trump/Pence 2020 signs still present in just about every single yard. In other words, it was the kind of trip that made me a bit uneasy without a former law enforcement officer and his 9 mm Glock 19 as I drove around in my little liberal-hippie foreign car, if you know what I mean. Oh well. It wasn’t like I was planning to buy a home there. I was just off to see a bridge. And I did. And it was lovely. And I have three more to go.

Of course, you didn’t come here to read about my little road trip, but it is a nice little setup for today because, for the journey, I prepared a bunch of new playlists. And that windshield time and those tunes brought up so much emotion that I couldn’t help but form multiple blog posts in my brain as I listened to the likes of Ben Rector, Depeche Mode, Taylor Swift, and the Drive-By Truckers. Yes – my taste in music is a bit eclectic, but that’s what keeps y’all guessin’, now dudn’t it? (Take that accent, Shannon County.)

So what were you thinking about? you ask. Well, grab a drink. Settle in. I’m about to share.

The topic today is LOVE. More specifically…falling and being…in it.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

–Maya Angelou

Yes, I know. I know. I had sworn this topic (and feeling) off in August 2020. But it just keeps gnawing at me, and here’s a little secret: I’m a bit of a romantic (despite my hostility toward Valentine’s Day.) Plus, over three days, I’ve had three conversations with three different people who have, well, been a little square with me about my fear of falling in love again. I pondered the take-aways from each conversation and thought maybe we could rest here on the topic together today. Is that okay? (I hope you nodded your head ‘cuz I’m going there.) Ready? Got that drink? Here’s the advice I’ve received lately. I hope it helps you today, Dear Reader.

1) Might as well be all in. If I must cite my source, I have Amanda to thank for this one. Her point was: If you are all in, you can’t have one foot in and one foot out. If you are going to be in love, then love unabashedly! If you commit to being ALL IN, you might be surprised by how much the Universe responds to that. And by ‘you,’ I mean ‘me .’ But it might apply to you—[Shrug].

2) Stop thinking in terms of the ‘Worse case scenario.’ This one comes from a friend who has experience in the area of failed relationships, and yet remains positive. This dude isn’t a stranger to the ‘love gone wrong’ scene. He simply doesn’t dwell on it as I do. I don’t remember his exact words, per se, but I do remember he said, “You’re kinda jaded…” blah, blah, blah. I took a deep breath (as I tend to do when people call me on my shit….) but instead of getting defensive…I agreed with him. I also asked him to replace ‘jaded’ with ‘cautiously optimistic’ and promised to stop quoting Taylor Swift (“It’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames .”)

3) Red is bad. Green is good. Thank Miranda for this nugget. And we are talking about flags here with the red and green references. To be clear: flaws and imperfection are entirely different from red flags. But I’ve spent so much time in therapy making sure I know how to recognize red flags that I haven’t paid enough attention to the green flags right in front of me. What are green flags? In my recent experience, green flags = chairs that get pulled out, coats that get held when you are slipping them on, doors held open, texts to let you know he’s home safely, inclusion in decisions, out-of-the-blue calls to remind you that you are beautiful…I could go on. The world is enveloped in a mist of green these days. And it is so fucking refreshing.

4) Don’t be around anyone who makes you believe you are hard to love. In August, my therapist said this, and it’s just now sinking in. I was with someone for years who constantly asked me, “What is wrong with you?” (enunciating each word while dramatically rolling his eyes). The sad part is, I started to believe that there must be so many things wrong with me or he wouldn’t be asking me that all the time. Right? Wrong. If someone ever does this to you, please take my advice based on the hundreds of dollars I spent on therapy. Put on your shoes. Walk out. Call an Uber if you have to, but get the fuck out of there. It. Does. Not. Get. Better.

5) The key to long-lasting love is finding someone whose crazy matches your crazy. I used ‘crazy’ lightly here. I have a son on the autism spectrum, and I’ve become tolerant of particular quirks. This tolerance has proven to be a great trait in a mother and as a dating woman. So what if, when you pack an overnight bag, you pack everything in threes? Okay [Shrug]. You only like a specific type of bacon. Okay. You only buy black underwear. Okay. You have one side of the couch that is your favorite, and I can see you twitch a little when I sit there. Okay. It’s an oversized couch. I can sit in another spot. Trust me…you haven’t even scraped the surface for me on ‘weird quirks’. Again, after all the money spent in therapy, I would hope that I’ve learned the difference between quirky and fucking batshit crazy. Batshit crazy is leaving bullets on a washing machine while sending text messages about shots to the brain and placing recording devices around the home while secretly putting location tracking apps on cells phones. So, yeah, no. Check the locks three times, and wash your laundry daily. Your quirks aren’t crazy to me. In fact…your quirks don’t even phase me. I find them endearing.

So, bringing it back to love and the point of all of this. You can live your life afraid of falling back in love – all the while missing out on some great people & experiences- or you can be all in. Hey! Here’s a novel idea for you: You can be both afraid and open simultaneously. After all, to quote Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the movie Bounce, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared“. So…jump in with both feet or get off the damn diving board. Ain’t nobody got time for your wishy-washy bullshit. (Again…by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’.)

I’m leaving you today with another Taylor Swift song. (Trust me, no one wants me out of the phase more than I). BUT I heard it today, and admittedly, it was the platform of today’s post. It’s one of those songs that spoke to me, and I remember thinking, “My God. That’s me in that song.” (“I’ve been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break…burn…and end…”) Except for me…it wasn’t a cafe on a Wednesday…more like a bar & grill on a Saturday…but you’ll catch the reference if you try hard enough.

Peace out, Dear Reader. I leave you with a few questions to ponder: Was ‘the one who got away’ actually a blessing in disguise? Are you ready for the past to be in the past? Are you prepared to step out of your comfort zone and be all in? Do tell. I really want you to know I’m rooting for you.

And remember, if you liked this blog and think others might, too, then share the love on social media. Please and thank you!