The Importance of Romancing Yourself

A hand with a fresh strawberry on its palm

I’ve never been wild about the idea of romance. When I was young, I always had a crush on the Disney villain, felt nothing for Prince William, and thought that Romeo and Juliet were so unstable that had they not killed themselves over a relationship that lasted a whopping four  days, they had little chance of overcoming inevitable “baby mama drama,” “just can’t even’s, and “who is she, huh huh”s.

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I have been with my husband since I was 19. I am in love with him. He comes home from work, we have a drink, cook a meal, make love, go for a stroll. It’s smooth sailing. On Valentines Day there are gifts, trips to New Orleans, bubble baths. “I love you’s are exchanged dozens of times a day along with a slew of adorable pet names that would turn the strongest of stomachs. My favorite is “dragon baby” or maybe “little cat wolf.” Sickening.

While I do appreciate and expect a certain level of romancing and spontaneity out of my husband, I think that it is not only necessary but preferable that the main provider of romance and intrigue in my life be me.

As a society, we have started to come around to this idea. We call it “self-care.” And while I am a wild about it, there is this maternal, almost wound-licking tone to it that makes me questions its lasting effectiveness.

Self-romancing is a lifestyle. It’s not something you pull out when you’ve gone overboard with your commitments, become too entrenched with family drama, or realized your children may just eat you alive if you let them.

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How to Look Put Together

A woman in white gloves fixing her hair

In my high school, the regional slang word tossed my way was “scurvy.” From biology to history, it passed through the lips of my peers. It was the word of choice for an unkempt individual. “Scurvy.”  Considering my state of perpetual starvation, they could have been referring to my vitamin C deficiency, but that was probably a lost irony.

I certainly felt “scurvy.” My mother decided to move us onto an acreage with no running water or electricity, but plenty of farm animals and inbred cats. I was perpetually covered in animal hair, five weeks between showers, and reeking of second-hand smoke and first-hand perspiration. I was so greasy I could have been cold-pressed into a fine and abundant source of cooking oil.

Strangely, post-high school I still felt “scurvy.” I had an income and a pet- and smoke-free home and daily showers, yet I still was… unkempt. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. There was just something, not tightly kept together, and while I have long come to terms with my satan-given looks, I would always be disappointed when I glimpsed in the mirror. My shit was not “on fleek” as I had always yearned for it to be.

I had a thirtieth birthday recently. I went to a masquerade ball, danced, drank champagne and had a grand old time. My friends had taken some candid pictures of me that turned up on facebook the next day. There I was, staring up at myself from the timeline feed, finger waves perfectly coiffed, skin matte yet dewy, not an eyelash astray. I looked completely put together and it filled me with a sort of joy that didn’t feel superficial at all.

I am a strong proponent of “no right way to be, look, or dress.” I still must admit: it felt good. It felt important. Because it has always been important to me: the ability to pull myself together and present myself the way I wanted to be seen. So I wanted to share what I have learned on my journey from scurvy teenager to seamless adult. These are the tips I have on how to look put together.

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