When I say I’m a hopeless romantic, I don’t mean that my idea of a perfect day is one spent curled up on the couch watching period movies and crying over Mr. Darcy (although sometimes it is). It doesn’t mean I sit in my room staring out the window wishing (although I do that plenty, too). For me, the ever-loving poptimist, it means seeing more than what meets the eye. It’s a lot like faith. The substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things unseen. It’s hard to describe what it’s like being inside my head; you can never judge what’s going on between the walls of my skull from the expression on my face, because it never matches (unless I’m bored, in which case “just shoot me” is a fairly good word-picture). People frequently ask me “Are you okay? You look sad” or “Are you mad at me? You’re frowning” and my response is usually a startled “No…?” I tend to forget where I am, who I’m with, and what’s going on around me because I get distracted by seeing beyond what’s actually there. The sound of car honking in the distance sends my mind on an urban adventure, one with lots of colorful maps and a backpack and strangers I’ll never meet and places I’ll never see. A flash of color – it might be a flower, or a candy wrapper – brings faeries to life;a shadow on the wall is a ghost or a phantom lurking outside the window asking to be let in. The blinking of an airplane in the night sky is a shooting star, and it works just as well for wish-making. Each city light is a new world of possibilities. A woman walking down the street with a scarf and a mocha from Starbucks has her own story, and I wonder if she’s in love with anyone, or if she goes home at night to a big, lonely apartment, or whether she’s ever lost someone close to her. Is that person happy? Are they sad? Have they been through something we can’t even imagine? A couple holding hands, a brief glimpse inside the open door of a bookstore or a coffee shop, someone sitting on the street corner playing badly on a cheap musical instrument, the way the clouds are brushed in that very particular way across the sky – sometimes it’s almost overwhelming, and the only thing to do is take a deep breath and drink it all in and mull over it later, and watch it come out in strange, odd, wondrous forms when I write. I’m the most forgetful person I know. I forget what I had for breakfast, what I wore yesterday, an argument I had, something I was supposed to do, but I never forget strange, meaningless details that are only meaningless until they spring to life somewhere between a word and another word. That flash of faerie-color might become its own story. The woman with her mocha might become a character. That strain of music I heard is a feeling which might become an entire theme from which I base a book. Some of the things I notice will never make it to the page. They’ll stay forever locked up inside my chest, like a box of colorful photos I can pull out and look over on rainy days, if I’m not too busy taking more pictures (which I usually am). But I know they’ll always be there. This ramble probably doesn’t make sense, and that may be because it’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep. In trying to clear my mind up for you I’ve probably only muddled yours, but you might come away with a sense of the sort of hopeless romantic I am. Everything is a story. You’re a story. Everyone you see is a story, and stories should never be judged by the covers they wear.