My 20-Year Love Affair

Friends, I have a confession to make. (Deep breath. Here goes.)

I’ve been having a love affair for 20 years. My husband knows about it, but we don’t talk about it much. I think he’s in denial. I wish I could give my heart to him and him only, but I’ve come to accept that the heart wants what the heart wants.

The affair began when I was in college. I still remember what I wore on our first dates: flannel pajama pants and my Cornell sweatshirt. Sometimes slippers. It didn’t matter, as long as we were together.

Twenty years later, the romance still hasn’t worn off.

I can’t say it hasn’t been a rocky relationship. Countless times I’ve gone into our time together expecting one thing, and walked away with something completely different. I’ve cursed myself for going back over and over, but the temptation is always too great to resist.

It hasn’t always been an equal relationship, either. I try to guard myself, to hold back as much as I can, to make sure I’m not sacrificing too much. But as soon as we were together, it’s like the whole world disappears, and I find myself handing over much more than I ever thought I would.

But it’s okay, really. In some strange, mysterious way, this relationship meets a deep-seated emotional need. When my home life gets to be too much, it gives me a sweet escape. In fact, my having a family has only made our relationship stronger. My husband just silently shakes his head as I walk out the door, knowing he’s going to lose his wife for a short while. But he also knows I need this relationship—that it satisfies some part of me that he can’t touch.

These days, our dates involve yoga pants and comfortable shoes, but the spark is still there. I still get the same, giddy feeling when we get together as I did when I was 19. A love that has stayed so constant through the years is impressive and worthy of acknowledgment.

TARGET—I love you. Please never leave me.

Photo credit: Nicholas Eckhart

Since Target and I have been so successful at keeping the flame going over the years, I thought I’d share some wisdom I’ve gained over the years.

And just for the record, no, Target isn’t paying me to do this. Our relationship’s not like that, really.


1. Park your car and head to the store. As you pass those big red balls, consider jumping over them leapfrog-style. (They tempt me every time—it’s that youthful giddiness I get walking up to the door.)

2. Enter the store, breathe deep, and revel in the fact that you’re not at Wal-Mart. One of the best things Target is its Not-Wal-Martness. The pristine floors, the bright-but-pleasing lighting, the perfectly lined up beauty products . . . just let that perfection sink in.

(No offense, Wal-Mart, but your being Not Target is one of your biggest weaknesses. Nothing you can do about that. It is what it is.)

3. If you’re on a date with Target without your kids, hit the Starbucks stand and treat yourself to a latte, for heaven’s sake. Real dates at least involve coffee. Play along.

4. Head straight to the Dollar Spot. You might find something on your list, and for sure a bunch of stuff not on your list, right there for merely $1. (And you didn’t have to go to Wal-Mart’s annoying cousin, Dollar Tree, to get it.) Holiday decorations and Stuff-to-Appease-Your-Children-on-Long-Roadtrips are great things to find here.

5. Hit the clearance end caps. (The end caps, for those who don’t know, are the shelves at the ends of the aisles. Most of the clearance ones are around the perimeter of the store, but there are some in the middle aisles as well.) Clearance end cap deals are like gifts of shiny jewelry. I don’t think I need them, but then Target shows them to me, and I just melt. It’s not unusual to find 70% off deals here. Good stuff, too. I got a $160 gas grill for $39.95 on a clearance end cap once. Practically knocked another lady down for it. Totally worth it.

6. Hit the clearance clothes racks. Unfortunately, I’ve hated every piece of clothing that has come into style in the past few years, so I don’t get as much as I used to out of the clothing clearance, but there are some major deals to be had. Head straight to the 50% or 70% off racks. None of that 30% off business, unless you really need something. 30% off is for amateurs.

7. Next, go up and down every single aisle, just because you can. Sip your latte and admire the orderly, organized shelves—such a beautiful contrast to the tornado aftermath awaiting you at home.

8. Put a bunch of stuff in your cart that you don’t need, and then go return most of it to the shelves it came from (neatly, of course). Be strong. Don’t let Target take advantage of you. You’ll hate yourself in the morning.

9. You came in to buy $20 worth of stuff, so act shocked when the cash register reads $62.95. Blush a little and say, “Oh my, I had no idea I was getting so much,” as if this is your first time around this block. (You saucy little thing!) Tell yourself it’s okay because most of it was 70% off. Hand over your Target Red Card to get your 5% discount and the thrill that goes with it.

10. Walk out the automatic doors, your hands weighed down with pretty red and white bags, which you will take home and use to line your bathroom trash cans. You’ll say it’s for frugality, but really it’s to remind you of your and Target’s romantic evening. (Until next time, my darling!)

For more on the hilarity and horrors of being a procreating human, hop on over and “Like” my Facebook page. (All the cool kids are doin’ it!) You can also follow me on Twitter, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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