I’ve been so accustomed for a long time to fending for myself, working for the future, dodging heartbreak and trying to be strong that I lost sight of how I was freezing up part of my personality. And why did I think that was even necessary? I haven’t been under siege. I haven’t been a failure. I haven’t been broke. I haven’t been out of a job. I haven’t been unhealthy. I haven’t had my heart broken beyond repair. But I’ve been acting as if all of those things were possible or imminent. Instead of living as if I were resilient, capable of joy and able to survive sorrow or setbacks, I’ve been braced for a fall. When you’ve been frozen and you come out of the cold, it’s a little disconcerting, as if your feelings have frostbite and they have to be warmed up gradually. For instance, I’ve never been comfortable addressing friends or lovers with sweet nothings, so when I find myself casually calling someone “baby” or “sweetheart,” I’m amazed and amused all at the same time. I have to pause and get my bearings and figure out who is this person whose defenses are melting, who’s willing to have open-heart surgery on her emotions? Being tender and tempestuous and taking risks makes me feel more human than ever in my life. Why did it take so long?