imperfect love


Whether we insist on sleeping without socks, or if we’re the type who unconsciously squints when we really like something, we want so much to be adored for our sidelines. For the little things most people miss, the smaller streets. For our bitten nails or the fact that we’ve got the “royalty toe.*”

There’s someone out there who wants to take us to new countries and cities and neighborhoods, restaurants, parks, or to hear a new songwriter at that new bar with the new wine list, just to witness the way we experience new. That’s their adventure: learning us, seeing through our eyes, loving the way we see the world. And we’re not even their kid, but we’re loved as though we’re family. And one day we might be.

She’s the kind of girl who thinks she’s good at cards, and she’ll do a little dance when she wins. You’d tell her you only let her win so you could watch her, but she really did beat you. Truth is, you’d love her either way because really, you love the way she reacts to things. You love the way she cries at commercials and looks in her glasses, no makeup. And she thinks she looks ugly, but it’s when you love her most…in her socks, comfortable at home, at her desk chair, caught picking her nose, but only a little. You love her like Sunday with eggs and the smell of bacon and fizzled onions. In her undershirt, her laugh, the way when she reads something she likes, she has to read it to you aloud. “Are you listening? You’re not fcuking listening. Pay attention. There will be a test.” You like her threats and her smile, but you think she’s prettier when she doesn’t. When she thinks no one’s watching her. You like her off.

You can’t stand how long it takes her to get ready or how many times she asks you to get her water, or please do this for me, but you compromise because she rolls down the windows and makes you forget about the traffic. She’ll paint her nails in the car and whine when she’s cranky and when she can’t sleep. You like that you know she’ll sip at her tea in a way you can hear, and that she chews on her shirt collar when she’s nervous. That she prefers mittens to gloves and wishes she had a fireplace only for the smell. You love the curve of her face and the cup of her smile, the way she breathes in the dark, and how she loves you. You’ll spend the rest of your life letting her know you’re the lucky one, that you adore her, even with the extra twelve pounds, and you’ll whisper it every night, even when she can’t hear you.

You love how she gets excited when they’ve got her Ben & Jerry’s flavor in stock. She’ll spin around in front of the glass door and say, “Hells yeah.” And she’ll look up for a moment to make sure you see her, the way she does at the movies when something good happens. She always wants to share with you—except when it comes to her fries. Her fries are hers, and your fries are hers. Money too, but mostly the fries.

You love the way you know her, that you know how to make her feel at home no matter where she is. Sometimes it’s as easy as the Disney channel and the original Parent Trap. Other times it’s ordering in and a bedtime story she forces you to make up, and if it sounds vaguely like any movie she knows, she’ll call you out on that shit and make you start over. With something new. Because as long as you both find and make new, you can stay with everything that’s old and broken-in.

We love people for their side streets, for the random things most of us miss. It’s what makes the little piggy want to go all the way home.

*Royalty toe: when the 2nd piggy is longer than the one who goes to market.



  1. I love the way you capture those sidelines. You write about the details that everyone else seems to forget. You're such a talented writer!

  2. you've just summed up a whole life's worth of wishful thinking into your one passage. i've always felt this way when it came to my relationships; i always hoped that my boyfriend(s) would spot these small quirks in me without me having to exert much effort. basically, i always wished that he would love me that much… that they would love the version of me that is raw and natural, nothing practiced.

    great passage.

  3. I would delete the first few words of this. They are distracting, lowbrow and totally take away from the rest of the piece.

  4. But, how do you KNOW this? What if he doesn't tell you these things? What if you wonder and wonder and wonder, even though you KNOW he loves you? Should he tell you about these little things?

  5. God, I love this. I want to write like this. No…I want someone to write like this about ME!

    Love it! Thank you!

  6. Oh, dear god. Someone's asking about Sarah Palin. I honestly hope no one here is stupid enough to vote for someone JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE A VAGINA. Seriously?

    Then again, they got money, so one guess who Phil & SK are voting for.

  7. I couldn't help but wonder while I was reading this… you write it all from a male perspective (of his girlfriend), but do men notice these things, and think in this way about what love is, or only women? Obviously there are some men who do… but for the most part I think this is what most women hope for but don't get.

  8. Awesome. Even more awesome is to know I AM loved this way. My husband loves me like this AND is pretty hot. Yes, I am one very lucky girl.

  9. This is wonderful. My boyfriend notices all of my quirks (some similar to those noted) and comments on them in the most loving way. I know he loves them, and although I accuse him of making fun of me for them, I secretly know that its not making fun at all. Its my favorite thing about our relationship, and makes me realize he knows me better than anyone else in the world.

  10. Beautiful.
    I was in my morning-mood, still in my PJs, obviously without make-up, glasses on and hair in a mess. In the middle of breakfast and hadn't even brushed my teeth. He got down on one knee and proposed. I think that made me love him more than anything he's ever done.

  11. this relationship sounds terrible – bedtime stories? is this for real? maybe this is why you and phil have so many problems – you have such weird expectations for what a relationship is…

  12. This post reminds me of 2 Brad Paisley songs: "the World" and "She's everything"…..such a sweet post!

  13. Apparently there are people that never learned "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything".

    Who's to say what makes a relationship work? It's up to the two people in the relationship to figure that out, not an unaware outsider.

  14. Having just gone through a break-up and now reading your book Straight Up and Dirty, you capture my feelings and thoughts perfectly when it comes to relationships. Thank you!

  15. Wow. This really connected with my sense of longing. And made me painfully aware today of how damn sick I am of being single. :)


  16. That's beautiful. That feeling is like a warm blanket just out of the dryer being wrapped around you, or the feeling you get when you're just pregnant; dreamy and hopeful and happy. It's good to be loved for yourself.

  17. I have to admit that every once in a while, I convince my husband to tell me a bedtime sorry. (No, not a naughty story!) It's usually a story from his past, or something about a made up kingdom far, far away.

    He is not a good story teller, but I love what he comes up with and how tries to get me to take it over. It's not boring, or childish. It's relaxing and a great way to end a stressful day.

  18. When my then-boyfriend was working abroad, he wrote me an email with the things he missed most about me, and some of the stuff in your post was in his letter as well. I was surprised, as I never realized that he liked those particular tiny things ("the way you're working on your laptop all concentrated, and then suddenly look up to me and smile"), and it made me cry (but in a good way :) ). When getting together again after some months apart (he had a depression) he also confessed that during the time apart he used to watch a silly video of me in my jammies trying to hide from the camera under the duvet – my hair and face were a total mess and I didn't want him to film me. Back then I pleaded with him to delete the thing, but turned out he kept and hid it from me, it was his favourite he said.

    It really is as you describe, they often like the little things, the quirks, and the "off" version. Well, the good ones do. They're worth waiting for.

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