He had a complicated Eastern European last name that I could barely spell, he was easily three inches shorter than me, and I was certain he was my destiny. He was the fifth-grade class president, and I spent endless hours musing about becoming his de facto first lady. My three-week fixation ended after I saw him sharing Funyuns with another girl at recess.

Then there was Sassy, the now-defunct teen feminist magazine filled with straight-talk articles on sex, lefty politics, and purple hair dye. It represented everything I hadn't known I could want—a job at a magazine, cracking jokes with like-minded nerds. I treated it like scripture, modeling myself after the girls in the pages and memorizing their slang. But by the time it stopped publishing, Sassy had lost its hold on me—I no longer needed a user's manual for How to Be.

Then music. A Sly & the Family Stone CD that my father gave me set off years of voracious album buying: Björk, Prince, Chuck Berry, the Cardigans, T. Rex. I owned crates of vinyl, and my ears rang frequently from standing next to speakers at concerts, where I achieved a state of near-religious ecstasy. But while seeing Elvis Costello live was transcendent, he isn't technically someone I can depend on.

The closest I've ever come to a real soul mate is the man I've slept beside nearly every night for the last 11 years. The person I call the Molly Whisperer for his ability to understand, soothe, and inspire me. His off-the-cuff jokes make me laugh so hard, I keep a list of them on my phone so I can reread them when we're apart. (Poking fun at an absurdly loud woman in a restaurant: "Is she competing in America's Got Volume?") He's the biggest commitment and the smartest bet I've ever made.

Still, when I turn out my bedside lamp and lie there fretting about nothing, the thing I'm left with is me. Goofy, hot-tempered, size 10–footed, abandons-books-halfway-through, drinks-too-much-whiskey-on-a-weeknight me. And I embrace the person standing in my frequently impractical shoes. She's a loyal friend who does a respectable Anita Baker impression at karaoke. More important, she'll always be there for me. She's bedrock, the only truly sure thing in this world. After years searching for my soul mate, I think I've found her.


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