Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by 98 Degrees. *Raises hand* *Raises hand* *Raises hand* *Raises hand* 

I have been #blessed with a free XM Radio trial and as such, I have only listened to 90s on 9 and Aughts on 10 for the last (mumbles an embarrassing amount of time). While it has been the most enjoyable part of my commute every day, it also has happened that I have discovered many of my beloved childhood jams are actually filthy, scary, or just plain wrong. And it is ruining me.

Some epiphanies have been gentle – remembering that at 11-years-old, I didn’t know “Too Close” by Next was about a boner, though I do now…I definitely do now. 

November 6th would have been my 10-year anniversary in Chicago. But at the end of October, I moved back to LA, where I grew up, just two weeks shy of this deca-milestone. 

The 6th came and went like it always does: the day passes and some time the following week, I wake up and think, “Oh! My Chicago anniversary.” And suddenly every dolt husband in every sitcom about marriage makes sense to me. 

I moved to Chicago a few months after graduating from the University of Michigan. I didn’t want to be near my immediate family, and I didn’t want to go to New York where almost every single person I knew was moving. New York overwhelmed me and exacerbated my anxiety. The filth. The crowds. A decision I often worry was a mistake.

If you’ve ever spent even five minutes with me at any point in my 32 years, you know how obsessed I am with babies. As a preschooler, I would hold babies while sitting in my carseat and I started babysitting when I was only 10. I once picked up elastic-topped jeans by accident so excited by the technology not even knowing what maternity jeans were but my soul did. I came out of the womb this way. I love babies, I want babies. Sometimes, I am a baby. It is all fine by me. 

Every so often, as everyone is pairing off and I’m singing songs to my cat about how much I love her, I will think about the prospect of never knowing what it feels like to be pregnant and it makes me break down. (Then my cat walks away because she has no time for my drama.) There is no part of me that thought I would be 32, single, and childless and while I do my best to distract myself, the gravity of that is unavoidable. 

Hello men on dating apps, here are 25 questions for you:

Why do you lie on your profile?

Why do you bother having a profile with one or no pictures?

Why do you have a picture of you holding a fish?

Why do you list your height, then get mad that you listed it? Eg: 6’0 BECAUSE APPARENTLY THAT MATTERS

Why do you send pictures of your penis, especially when it’s really not that impressive?

Do you really want to know what I’m wearing? A grey sweat suit.

Why is your “About Me” not a description of who you are, but instead a list of what you expect me to be?

Thirty-one is the 13 of adulthood; I had as many weddings and bachelorette parties this year as I did bar/bat mitzvahs in the days of yore. The biggest difference this time around, however, is that I’m fiscally responsible for myself.

It seems that this was the make-it-or-break-it year for relationships. My friends with significant others either decided to head down the aisle or head their separate ways (and some who did both, but those aren’t my stories to tell).

Coming into 2017, I noticed the rapid pace with which my funds were claimed by early planning for bachelorette parties, wedding showers, and weddings themselves. So, I made myself an Excel grid to properly track my spending. It was not a petty pursuit; I was merely curious how all the guest and bridesmaid costs would add up.

I am afraid of everything.  I’m afraid of spiders.  I’m afraid of the dark.  I’m afraid my food is poisoned.  I’m afraid of flying.  I’m afraid of being alone.  I’m afraid of rejection.  I’m afraid of failure.  I’m afraid of what people think about me.  I’m afraid if I sneeze alone in my apartment, the murderer who has been hiding and waiting for me will say, “Bless You” before he jumps out and kills me.  I’m afraid of germs and pain and needles and blood and my own brain. I’m afraid of death. I’m afraid of intimacy.    

I am 31-years-old and in my first relationship ever.  And I’m afraid it will just never happen for me.

There’s an interesting thing about blind dates.  The unspoken trust of a third party to know you, or a piece of you, so deeply that they can connect you and another human as potential life mates is a widely overlooked aspect of the event.

This person, the matchmaker, thinks they have you figured out enough to test their knowledge with perhaps the most fickle of emotions – love…or lust or like.  Romantic interest.  The one emotion that even those involved often cannot explain.  (Of course, fiasco strikes when the match is so missed, it leaves you wondering what this matchmaking friend or family member actually thinks of you.)

What he said to me was, “That’s better” as he stole our first kiss in the doorjamb of my apartment. What he said to me was, “I really like you. I have for a long time” as he lie in my bed gently kissing my forehead and I scratched his back. What he said to me was, “I don’t know what to do with my feelings for you” as he stared steadily into my eyes. 

What he said to his friends was, “She’s awkward and inexperienced and wacky.” 

What I thought was, “What. The. Fuck” as he took his shirt off and I caught a look at his sculptured body. What I thought was, “This feels nice” as I ran my nails along the deep groove of his spine. What I thought was, “I don’t totally trust you, but you’re good at making me question that” as he talked to me like we were already in a relationship. 

Everyone who knows me knows that I steal.  Not Winona Ryder style – straight-from-a-store-for-the-love-of-the-game stealing, but the kind of stealing that could questionably be considered “extended borrowing.”  It’s almost stealing that could be perceived as an item we both forgot I had.  Basically, at the very moment you loan me a sweatshirt or a pair of shorts, they belong to me. 

Over the years, I’ve drawn quite a collection of items, each one serving as a reminder of love lost, lust realized, or an old friendship. 

Keeping clothes that do not “rightfully” belong to me is not about owning more stuff.  In fact, that’s my least favorite part of the whole thing.  There’s just something comforting and nostalgic about throwing on a shirt or pair of shorts and fondly thinking of someone I once knew.  Or, even better, still know.  It’s an unsanctioned gift to me, from me.