My love life has been one big disappointment lately. It seems like every time I meet a great guy, either the chemistry isn’t right, or he immediately proposes to me but has this female best friend he swears he just doesn’t think of like that, and then on the eve of our hot air balloon-themed wedding, he gets stuck in a hot air balloon with her because of a misunderstanding over tethering etiquette and realizes that he’s loved her all along. I know I’m not the first to say it, but dating in this city is a real slog when you’re over 30, and you are a plot device.

Dating was so much easier in my 20s. Everyone was more carefree and open, and no one ever realized that his best friend’s habit of nervously reciting obscure Korean War trivia was the very thing he loved most about her. My therapist has suggested that by continuing to accept proposals from men with improbably-hot-if-clumsy best friends and suggesting that those best friends would be indispensable in helping to plan our hot air balloon-themed nuptials, I am, in a way, recreating old patterns. Maybe she’s right. But in my defense, a surprising number of those women had connections in the ballooning industry. And besides, the men couldn’t have been more different from each other. Sure, they were all architects, but any architect will tell you that there’s a world of difference between commercial and residential projects.

And Daniel’s best friend was only clumsy when she was on a deadline for her job as a wedding journalist. And that was just because of how much she hated weddings. You know, because of her past.

Look, I have my own baggage, too. I leave dishes in the sink, I can be overly emotional, and of course I was kidnapped a lot as a teenager, forcing my father to choose between rescuing me and disarming the nuclear warheads. If there’s one thing I learned from Evgeni, it’s that you can take a man’s daughter and his house and his former partner Jeffrey and his other daughter and his lucky coin and his ear, but you can’t take his love of the U.S.A. I’m also kind of a grumblepuss in the morning! But somehow none of that seemed to matter as much when I was in my 20s.

Now that I’m in my 30s, I’d really like to meet a nice guy and settle down. I’d like to have a few kids—twin daughters but one is a secret, or a son who I can trust to leave home alone for the weekend, despite what happened last time. And then, when the kids are grown and my husband’s dead from that scarab amulet I gave him for his birthday, I’d like to go to the same restaurant every day to drink coffee and chat with a waitress whose dreams are bigger than this tiny town. And when I die and surprise her by leaving her all my money, I hope she launches that scarf startup, like she’s always dreamed.

I guess I just have to keep putting myself out there, like I did when I was in my 20s. Sure, there have been some disappointments along the way, but for now there’s nothing to do but hold out hope that the right guy will come along. I don’t care about his looks or his bank account, just as long as he makes me laugh, and has at least a working knowledge of knots. Because Brian tied me to these train tracks like twelve hours ago, and I don’t think he’s coming back.