Once upon a time…

I had a great job in Minnesota. I owned my own home and had a super-sweet pup. My life was filled with friends and music and a whole lotta snow!

One summer, I returned to Long Island to visit my grandmother for the Fourth of July holiday. I ended up at the barbecue of an extended family member. And that was where I saw HIM. He was tall and cute with blonde hair and blue eyes. He caught me talking baby talk to the dog and playing in the sandbox with the kids. He walked in just in time to see me swipe a finger full of frosting off a cupcake.

I was smitten… but I needed to return home.

Then he called me. And I called him.

He came to Minnesota and my dog ate the pork chop off his plate while we were smooching on the couch.

He was smitten…but he needed to return home.

Then I called him. And he called me.

I returned to New York. He came back to Minnesota. I took him to a Wild game, he took me to meet his family.

We were smitten…but one of us always had to go home. And it was getting harder and harder to say goodbye.

The breaking point, for me, came at Christmas.

As a radio host, I’ve spent more years than I can count working the holidays so that other people could have a companion and some beautiful music as a backdrop to their celebrations. I didn’t really mind until that year. The year I came home to a cold, dark house with a bag of Chinese takeout. He called me from his family’s holiday dinner. They all yelled ‘Merry Christmas!’ over the phone. I cried. And I swore I’d never spend another Christmas alone again.

We were engaged by March and married by October.

I left my great job and my own home for a temporary position and a co-op apartment building. My dog passed away before I ever made the move.

It wasn’t a hard decision, in the end, because I knew I had only two choices… stay and enjoy the great life that I knew so well, alone. Or go and jump into the unknown with the love of my life.

Houses are bought and sold. Jobs come and go. But when the right one comes along, you’d better grab him or her and hold on tight, because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever find that kind of special ever again.

So, while my choice seemed ‘brave’ and ‘exciting’ to some…it seemed the safest, most obvious choice to me.

Fast forward ten years…

We have a beautiful home, I’ve built an even better career for myself and we’ve got an awesome pup. It’s not all flowers and hearts. In fact, there have been a lot of tears and scares and tragic losses. But we have had one another to lean on. And I have, not once in more than a decade, spent a holiday working or coming home to a cold, dark empty house.

This Valentine’s Day, I remind myself that the best moments aren’t the candlelight dinners and presents and exotic vacations. They’re eggs at the diner, TV in bed with the dog and waking up in the middle of the night and reaching over, just to make sure he’s still there. Just to be sure that I didn’t dream it.

Once Upon a Time, I thought I had it all. I was so, so wrong. It was only when I left ‘it all’ behind that I began to live happily ever after.

So, my friends, embrace the embraces and the trips to the grocery store and the home improvement project that leaves you both exhausted and frustrated and bickering over something silly. Hold onto the quiet time together in the car and the cup of tea that he brings up to your office when you’re too busy working to get one for yourself. Because, while the grand romantic gestures are awesome, it’s within all the little things that the love really lies.

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