For My Valentines

So, I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day as a holiday. Since about fifth grade when they stopped letting us have all day parties with heart shaped cupcakes and princess valentines with cheesy puns, it's all been downhill from there.

It's not that I'm cynical about it or anything, not really. I mean, everyone knows that the real holiday is February 17th, when all the chocolates and conversation hearts go on sale for 75% off. It's just never, ever been one of my favorite holidays.

And I get that it's a holiday generally geared toward romantic couples, but I think that it's as good a time as any to remind everyone that there are a million and one types of love in this world, and romanticism only makes up a small fraction of those.

So today I'm paying homage to some of the greatest loves in my life, to people who continue to be there for me no matter what, and that I hope will be around for a long time to come. And I'd encourage you to do the same, some time this weekend. Tell your friends how much they mean to you or send your mom a card, or pass out lame holographic super hero valentines to your dorm floormates. Let's remember to celebrate all types of love this Valentine's Day, not just the ones that most often fit on Hallmark cards.

To my parents,

First of all, thank you. Thank you for everything that you've done for me in my life, and everything you continue to do for me. Thank you for always being supportive of all my hare brained schemes and ideas, and for believing in me no matter what. I know it's hard sometimes. I miss you guys more than I thought I would when I'm away (yes, I really do, quite a lot), but I know that no matter where I go, I always have a wonderfully warm and inviting place to call home. I don't really know what's ahead of me for my immediate future, but I know that you'll be there to help me through whatever is on the horizon. Thank you for encouraging me to do whatever I wanted as a child, and for being totally chill when I wanted to pursue new paths (like karate, and swimming, and cheerleading, and Girl Scouts, and 4H, and choir). Thanks for totally getting the fact that I was a weird little nerd child, and taking me to all of the Harry Potter movies on opening day, and buying me all the books when they came out, and not trying to make me do sports (EXERCISE INDUCED ASTHMA) and basically doing everything in your power to make me happy. And I was. Am. So, so happy. I love you both, and I'll see you soon, I'm sure.

P.S. Thanks for putting up with me in middle school when I would only wear stuff from Hot Topic, and again when I went through that Twilight phase. Ugh. And also that time when it took me like 70 years to get my driver's license.

To my best friends,

Oh gosh, what can I say? I love you guys because you're always there for me, no matter what. We have a group Facebook chat message that could probably stretch around the earth 3 times, were it to be printed out. I love that we can go from singing along to Kanye West to doing a 3 person medley of most of the Les Mis soundtrack. We can go from discussing life's intricate complexities and the nature of humans, to discussing which Hemsworth has the best butt in the blink of an eye. And we all share a borderline frightening obsession with Jennifer Lawrence. You people are absolutely insane, and I love every minute of it, because I think without that, life would be a lot more dull. You are the Moony and Padfoot to my Prongs, the John and Sherlock (John and Mary? Sherlock and Mycroft? Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson? Actually yeah, that sounds right.) to my Molly, the Rose and Donna to my Amy (who never actually met but they would have liked each other). And yes, we can argue about who's who and which analogies would have been better later. The point is, I love you stone cold pack of weirdos, as Maya Rudolph so wisely said. I know that you're always going to be around for wisdom, encouragement, dirty jokes, and lots of screaming about fictional people. So cheers to that. And remember the golden rule: ovaries before brovaries.

To my family, 

I've witnessed time and time again in my lifetime how generous and helpful y'all are. I think it's amazing that everyone's always there to support everyone else through whatever is happening at the time. When things are good, we celebrate. When things are bad, we problem solve. It's incredibly inspiring to be a part of two caring, supportive, and loving families, both of whom I know would do anything to help out me or any other member of the clan. I did not realize, growing up, and until very recently that many people do not have such large close knit families, and I'm grateful for mine and for all the awesome stuff we've done and hopefully, will continue to do. I'm happy to know that I'm a part of something like that, so thank you all as well. 

To my friends from college,

First of all, thanks for making my first year and a half-ish at college some of the best of my life so far. I've loved every single adventure we've had, every midnight Meijer run, movie marathon, Rocky Horror, and even that one time we tried to go clubbing (IHOP was better anyway). I also appreciate how there's almost always food present during these adventures. And know that you guys don't operate under the exclusion of "college friends" - you all are my friends, period. I'm so happy to have met all of you, and I'm so excited to see what everyone does in the years to come. I hope we all stay close and in touch for a long, long time!

And most importantly, to myself,

Hello, you. What do I even say? It's odd to be writing a letter to myself, and not even my past or future self like in all those writing activities. First of all, I'd like to say that I appreciate how much you've grown in the last year or so. I know you haven't always been on the best terms with yourself; I know about the insecurities and the mean words in your head and the rainy days. But I also know how few and far between they are now. It's almost always sunny these days. But look at how much you've grown and changed in the past couple of years! You've accomplished so much: you're working two jobs, paying your own way through college, you've changed your major to something you're truly passionate about, and a whole host of other things. But most importantly, you believe in yourself. You know that things will be okay, even if you're afraid at first. You're a powerhouse, and you've probably handled worse before. They say you should be your own hero, and I think that you're taking big, giant leaps in that direction. Thank you for making it through the storm of the last several years, and never giving up. I can't wait to see what you do in the coming months and years.

To all, lots of love from Lizzie
I'm sure there is a small infinity of other letters I could write: to teachers and pets and authors and singers, to bus drivers and ex boyfriends and theatre directors and childhood playmates and neighbors and long dead poets. To coworkers and costars and ghosts and pastors and friends of friends and people whose hands I've held. The list is never ending, and so is my gratitude.