Me: Do you want to go to the Nuggets game on March 2nd? I can get $14 tickets through work.
Dad: Where are the seats?
Here we go.
Me: In the 300s. They’re $14.
Dad: We want to go, but we would want to sit closer.
WHY DOES IT MATTER? IS IT AN OLD PERSON VISION THING?!?! THERE’S A JUMBO-TRON! Also DAD, I have to have fun on a budget because of those student loans I’m paying because of that college you thought I should have to pay for literally for the rest of my life because of bootstraps or something.
Me: I didn’t look at the price of those. I’ll check.
Dad: Okay, well if you and Harrison want to go and the tickets are more expensive, you can just pay me the $14, and I’ll cover the rest.
I’m a 32 year old woman with a job and am about to agree to allow my dad to subsidize a closer seat to a Nuggets game.
Me: They’re $57.
Dad: Let’s do it.
Okay………… That’ll be $200.
The difference between Boomers and Millennials is how close they care to be to the court.
This weekend, I embarked on what has become an annual pilgrimage to hipster Mecca – Portland, Oregon. But this time felt so starkly different from previous visits. If you’ve read this blog, you may be aware that I have a love for the city of Portland. It has served as a place for me to find my sense of independence when I was unsure of whether my future would include a partner, it has been a place for me and that partner to celebrate that we had made it through very rough waters, and it has been a place to reunite with a friend I had not seen in a long time. And of course, Powell’s is in Portland.
If I’m granted access to a heaven that may or may not exist, I hope it’s just a giant bookstore. Powell’s basically.
Portland is the one place outside of Denver I’ve visited and felt like I could live.
This time, I was supposed to meet Harrison in the middle of his own adventure. He went on the road with another comic for a week, and Portland was a scheduled stop. The plan was that I would arrive on Saturday, have a day to do some of my favorite things, and then he would get there on Sunday and perform in two comedy shows in the city.
If you’ve seen the news at all, you may have seen that the Pacific Northwest got some snow. Seattle and other parts of Washington mostly. Portland didn’t really, at least not by the standards of a Colorado native or any person who has seen actual snow accumulation.
Before the trip, I was religiously checking the forecast, like the nervous traveler I am, and it was changing about as often as I was checking it. While the forecast for Portland seemed to be improving, Washington’s was not, and Harrison was scheduled to be in Yakima Saturday night.
While he was traveling through the snowy mountain passes between Bozeman, Montana and Yakima, Washington, I was going through my own sort of rollercoaster of a day.
I made it to Portland without even a delay, and the air travel gods apparently were satisfied with the number of middle seats I’ve occupied over the years and granted me a flight with 70 empty seats. I had an entire row to myself. When I arrived, I decided to go to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) because I had never been there. I don’t know that anything will ever counter the awkwardness of seeing bunch of a children aged about 7 to 10 running around multitudes of displays of male and female genitalia, models of fetuses at different stages of pregnancy, AND what childbirth looks like including the weird way babies’ heads get all misshapen as they’re squeezed through a hole far too small for it to remain a normal shape. Portland does not mess around with science-based sex education, which I can get behind.
Then Cascade. Whoever decided to make a Kriek to be served hot is a damn genius, and I need a Denver brewery to make this happen. By next winter, please. Thanks.
I walked over the Burnside Bridge, which I love doing for some reason, even though I have a bit of a fear of heights and looking down makes my stomach leap. Not far over the bridge is Powell’s. I. HAD. ARRIVED. This would be a great weekend, I thought. Maybe Harrison would want to come back the next day.
While I was at Powell’s, I realized I hadn’t heard from Harrison in quite a while. I called him, and his phone was going straight to voicemail. I tried not to panic because I know that cell service in the mountains can sometimes be spotty. I made my way to where I planned to get dinner. I walked up on a street that is typically full of people eating and drinking, and I found it empty. Many businesses had closed in anticipation of snow. There was no snow accumulation on the ground, and the most I had seen was about an inch when I landed at the airport. Coupled with my worry about where Harrison might be because at that point, I had seen a post on Facebook from the venue saying their Yakima show was cancelled because the comics were stuck in a snow bank “somewhere in bumfuck Egypt,” the city started to feel very cold and lonely.
I finally heard from him. He was safe. He and the comic he was traveling with had slid off the road into a ditch and had to dig out. The road to their destination was closed, so they were stuck in some small town. They found a gas station and a motel and would figure out their next move and if they would even be able to make it to Portland. One of their Portland shows had already been cancelled because of “snow.”
He didn’t make it to Portland. I know that he feels bad, and that he did what was best for his safety. But the disappointment in this change of plans changed everything I felt about the weekend heading into it.
For the first time in all the times I’ve visited, I suddenly couldn’t wait to go home. For the first time, the city felt cold and empty and lonely and nothing that I needed it to be. Sure, it was quite literally cold, but it seemed like everything started to shift when plans changed. Everything that I love about the city became tiresome and cold, even the people. I heard a man yell at a streetcar operator and call him an asshole. I had never encountered a rude person in the Pacific Northwest. Ever. While the city’s transit system is truly the best I’ve ever seen, even that started to exhaust me. I sunk into a weird funk that I had a hard time fully pulling myself out of, and I was suddenly just kind of killing time before my flight home.
I tried to make the best of it. I ate at some of my favorite restaurants and drank some of my favorite beer. I tried to do something new and learned that Portland has an excellent art museum. But still, I ended up changing my flight to leave earlier on Monday morning rather than trying to enjoy one last Portland breakfast. I even splurged on a Lyft to the airport instead of using the city’s great public transit options, because the thought of dragging my belongings to the train and then switching to another train was utterly exhausting to me.
As all of this took shape this weekend, I was struck at how this very different set of circumstances and frame of mind so drastically changed my experience with the same city I’ve visited and only ever loved. I don’t really know what conclusion to draw from this experience except that I definitely don’t respond to change as well as I had hoped. I like a plan, even a loose plan, and no location in the world is likely to change the person I’ve been for 32 years of life. Sure, I’ve become better at responding to a change in plans with practice and copious amounts of yoga and breathing exercises. But deep down, I live with a set of expectations of how things will happen, and there will always be an uneasiness when things don’t happen that way. It influences my perception of my overall sense of well-being. Also, I can do alone like a champ, but lonely is another story. With Harrison being away as much as he has been lately between work and this excursion, I was really excited to be able to be with him for even a few hours. Missing Harrison and encountering a city that became so empty in places because of LIKE AN INCH OF SNOW was lonely and frustrating, and it made me sad.
I still love Portland, and I’m sure I’ll be back. However, maybe not when there’s a chance of snow.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from people I know who have found new career opportunities, it’s that those opportunities have come to them through a connection they’ve made. I have heard no less than 2 people in the last month say, “This just kind of fell in my lap.”
My lap covers some territory, and I’m not over here catching any specks of good fortune on the career front.
My stepmom always says, “You have to get in front of the right people.”
I don’t exactly love being in front of people or being the center of attention. My most comfortable state is completely alone, anonymous, observing rather than participating. I recently took a personality test that put me at 86% Introvert and only 14% Extrovert. Basically, 14% of the time I want to be with other humans, and that sounds…uh…correct.
When I’m not at work, you might find me watching TV or reading a book alone. I prefer to run errands alone. I prefer to shop alone, and am often reminded of this whenever I invite a friend to the mall with me because I’ve forgotten how much I dislike shopping with other people. I go to yoga alone and speak to no one except when I give the teacher my name at the front desk.
My dudes and dudettes, this level of introversion is not a joke.
Harrison used to ask me, “Is this really all you’re going to do tonight?” as he leaves me on the couch with a book or a very deep Netflix queue on a Friday night to go to (probably) a comedy show or open mic. Then he stopped asking because my answer was always, “YES.” Harrison spends a lot of evenings out at open mics, so our relationship has been incredibly accommodating. Some might say enabling.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have a new friend who is constantly inviting me to get involved in things despite her own innate inclination to stay home. And as much as I don’t want to, I know I need to.
I spent the last two evenings at engagements geared toward young professionals with her. One of them is actually a choir, and I’m legit excited about that. I loved singing in choirs when I was younger, and at least I’m in a room with people working toward a common goal. The singing part I can handle, but the conversing with fellow singers is the hard part.
The other event was a happy hour for young professional at a fancy hotel bar and um, it was the worst.
First of all, I’m not fancy, and I always feel out of place in those environments. I own exactly one blazer that I think I’ve worn exactly twice. At a young professionals happy hour, you better bring your blazer. I am also THE MOST AWKWARD. I’m bad at starting conversations, and I am really terrible and feigning interest in things that I find absolutely dull. I wear my heart on my face. Eye contact with strangers? Lol. Please. I usually find myself following around the one person I know trying to interject myself in their conversations and doing a very bad job of it.
Introversion is not a condition that needs to be cured, but damn it’s hard to be an introvert in a world that places so much value the charismatic and gregarious over the quiet observers.
I’ll just be over here…tired from all the people-y stuff I’ve had to do and wishing I were at home.
I love yoga. I love it so much, but I have this uncanny ability to be critical (hopefully constructively) even when I love something and want it all to be sunshine, rainbows, and puppies… or kittens, I guess.
Here’s the yoga hill I’ll die on today. Or maybe I have two.
No group work. I talk to people all day every day, and part of the reason yoga has been so great for me is that I can go to a class full of 40 other people and talk to no one. Yoga is my opportunity to look completely inward. Something I’ve learned well, is that no one cares about the person next to them in yoga. I’m introverted, I’m shy, and I’m extremely self-conscious around new people, and knowing that no one, or at least most people are paying no attention to me, is incredibly comforting. Maybe I’m being a baby. Yoga has helped me gain a lot of confidence, but when the teacher says, “Partner up and find a wall, so we can work on our handstands,” I hear, “Partner up, so the skinny blonde next to you can see how much you suck it this.” I want to run away and never come back.
On that note, circus tricks do not belong in a level 1-2 class. Ok listen, I will accept that some of my complaints are 100% founded in my own fear of failure, and I should be more willing to try things and test my own strength. I completely own that. However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that I was once a newbie with a ton of anxieties who felt I did not belong there. I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone, and a level 1-2 class typically contains a variety of different needs and skill levels. It’s one thing to create the option for a more advanced pose when queuing a comfortable and more accessible pose for those less experienced or simply not in the damn mood that day. I’ve heard a ton of teachers do this and create an environment truly inclusive for all levels. It is possible to push people while still providing a level of comfort. That is yoga.
I criticize because I care. Thanks for reading and Namasté.
What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?
Aerial Yoga, which I do not believe I will be partaking in again. Seriously, this frame is not meant to be held by silk ribbons. I had bruises just above my ass for several days.
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Here’s the thing: I do not remember if I made any resolutions next year, and knowing myself, they were some loose suggestions for living at best.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
All three of my parents’ goats had babies this year. While you may be thinking, “That does not count silly lady!” I have been waiting for someone to make me an aunt for a long time, and I will be happy to settle for goats. Baby goats are cuter than baby humans. Fight me.
Did anyone close to you die?
No… let’s keep this streak going, shall we.
What places did you visit?
Cannon Beach, OR
San Diego, CA
What would you like to have in 2019 that you didn’t have in 2018?
I’m sometimes concerned that my general feeling of contentment is actually just laziness. I’m mostly fine, I would like to be able to say that I accomplished something at the end of next year.
What dates from 2018 will be etched in your memory forever?
February 14th – The Parkland shooting
August 12th – The day we finally moved into an apartment that doesn’t suck.
December 13th – The day I’ve been referring to as Michelle Obama day. I went to her book tour at a packed Pepsi Center and I’ll start the new year reading her book.
What was your biggest achievement this year?
That baked tofu dish I made. Do you know how hard it is to make non-weird tofu?
I also read 25 books this year, which I feel is am important accomplishment to note, due to the nose-in-air scoffs I get from people upon learning how much television I watch. I WILL NOT BE SHAMED. This is the golden age of television and I AM ALSO VERY LITERATE.
What was your biggest failure?
I currently hold the same position that I did a year ago…and the year before that. It’s not all bad. I work with good people, I don’t have much of a commute, I’m considered a leader (albeit without the title or pay) and holding a job for this long has provided me with financial stability I never knew as a child or in college, despite my Kilimanjaro size mountain of student loans. I am really just tired of feeling like I have someone looking over my shoulder constantly. I’m ready for more autonomy and to have more control over my time. I don’t want to have to make sure my boss knows that occasionally I cut out of work a little early to get to yoga class. I’m an adult, and I’m good at my job. I’d like to not be on a leash to a cubicle anymore. To be continued…
Did you suffer from illness or injury?
Ever heard of a ganglion cyst? Not technically an injury, but very annoying.
What was the best thing you bought?
I got an antique school desk for a STEAL at a shop on South Broadway. I adore it.
If anyone claims the song of this year is not Bohemian Rhapsody, I would like for them to explain themselves.
Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder, b) thinner or fatter, c) richer or poorer?
I’m equally happy. Although if you had asked me like 6 months ago, that answer would be much different
I might be barely thinner. My pants are falling off of me, but one pant size smaller is still too small.
Okay, I think actually richer. Maybe. I’m bad at this. We have more in savings, and I have been making coffee at home since we moved. That makes a huge difference over time. Also, do you have any idea how much less you spend on groceries over a year when you don’t eat meat?
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Hmmm… Yoga. I’ve been a pretty consistent yoga practitioner for the last couple of years. I think my next step is to work on a better home practice.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I had done less beating myself up. I spent a lot of time doing that.
How did you spend Christmas?
We made our annual trek to New York to see Harrison’s family.
What was your favorite TV program?
Nothing makes me laugh as much as Will & Grace does. Nothing.
What was the best book you read?
It’s a tie. “All Over The Place” by Geraldine DeRuiter and “Tragendy plus Time” by Adam Cayton-Holland.
What did you want that you got?
An apartment that isn’t falling apart and doesn’t feel like a dungeon. It is amazing what some big windows can do for a mood. With our move, we also got a new mattress.
What did you want and not get?
A new job.
What was your favorite film of 2018?
Oh man. It was a good movie year for me. I have to say Blindspotting, which I’m disappointed did not get more attention. Obama put it on his list. He knows what’s up.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
32! I woke up and went to work. Unfortunately. I did take the next day off to relax before going to Michelle Obama’s book tour.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
What’s happening with this Mueller thing? Can we get that show on the road please? I mean, WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?
Who kept you sane?
Harrison. Always Harrison. Although, there were a few times this year that he contributed to a decrease in sanity.
Who did you miss?
I really wish my brother and sister-in-law were closer. Maybe someday.
Who was the best new person you met?
I’ll just call her the other Whitney. She’s a sister of a long-time acquaintance, and for some reason, she seems to enjoy me. She’s a good influence and makes me do outside my comfort zone shit.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
Alone can be kinda nice and not at all lonely.
Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.
Am I the only reader who wants nothing to do with book clubs? This is a serious question. I love to read, and I love books. But I hate book clubs. Yet, I repeatedly get asked to join book clubs, and I feel like a jerk for repeatedly declining. Then Harrison tells me I’m spending too much time reacting to being invited to join yet another book club.
I recently read a book along with a group of co-workers, and it was mostly fine, except that I finished the book before everyone else because I don’t like to read more than one book at a time (with the exception of my “in-between” book that I read when I’m waiting for something to be available at the library), and subsequently I finished the book before the rest of the group because the rest of the group decided they wanted a month and a half to read 100 pages.
Reading is my loner, introvert activity. It always has been. Even when I was a kid, I remember sitting by the window reading a book while my sister played outside with the neighbors. It’s one of those few things that I can do completely on my terms. I choose the book and how quickly I read it, and the experience I have reading the book is completely my own. I don’t have to talk about it with anyone or be influenced by someone else’s experience. Most importantly, I do not have to leave my house to discuss the book with anyone else. I’m just particular about this one thing, I guess.
So again I ask, am I really the only reader who does not like book clubs?
Harrison got a new job this year. It’s kind of his first real adult job with real adult pay and real adult benefits. Although, he has yet to go to the dentist, despite the fact that he knows he probably desperately needs to. One thing we did not expect was that he would have to travel for this job as much as he has. He has been to the Washington, D.C. office three times now; the first time he traveled to the D.C. office, his trip was extended, so he could go to the New York office for a day. It was planned to be a five day trip and was extended to an eight day trip, which I felt was quite long. We’ve both traveled without the other throughout our relationship for work and pleasure, but it had never exceeded five days at a time until Harrison started this job.
Whenever he is preparing to leave, I am faced with the initial blow of painful anxiety about the loneliness I am sure to feel while he’s gone. Now, maybe some would think that is a sign of a healthy, loving relationship. Maybe it is, but I can’t help but be reminded of the codependency my mother had for my (former) stepdad, and really, any man I ever saw her in a relationship with.
This same conversation has come up again and again in my head through our 7 ½ year relationship. I am half of a partnership but still one whole person. I am holding on to my independence for dear life. I can’t be like her. I can’t. I’m better than that. I am okay on my own. I always have been, and I always will be.
The first time Harrison went out of town for work, I was a complete mess. As a life-long insomniac who is finally getting a handle on it, a change to my routine or sleep environment completely destroys any progress made. I barely slept that week. At one point, I went to Harrison’s weed stash hoping that what he had would be what he refers to “sleepy-time weed” because I can’t keep the actual strains straight. (If you ever say inidca or sativa in conversation with me, I’ll pretend I know what you’re talking about, but I don’t.) I took a risk that night, and I lost. I had a serious panic attack and was convinced that when I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up. This is what happens when I smoke the wrong kind of weed. I am certain I will die.
I went through the same initial motions the second time he went out of town for work and again this week. When he left for his most recent trip, I had a few brief freak-outs, I Googled, “Is it normal to feel separation anxiety when your partner travels for work?” Answer: this is totally normal. Phew.
I also cried in a Target parking lot. Going to Target has become a weird couples ritual for Harrison and me. We grocery shop there, because Red Card + Cartwheel= getting that money…or um, just spending less of it. And we make a pretty good team. We plan our meals, make lists, we get in and out in under and hour, and we keep each other from buying things we don’t need. When I’m there alone, trying to get the things that only I need for the week ahead, I feel a little lost, and I’m suddenly wandering around putting random things that look okay to consume in a basket.
I do this solo grocery shopping with the best of intentions, but deep down, I know the food may not ever be eaten because I hate cooking for one. I will inevitably be a frequent flyer at the Taco Bell drive thru.
Something was different about his last trip, though. I’d had some practice. I was able to comfortably settle into the solitude of the week alone. And it was very alone. Since his trip had him gone the week and weekend before Thanksgiving, most of my close friends were also away or had family in town. Sure, I still did not eat particularly healthily. I still went to Taco Bell, one more time than is probably acceptable. But I did slightly better than I had before. I stuck to what would be our normal routine in order to prevent severe insomnia, and that went well with the exception of the first night. I made plans for the weekend with only a short period of indecisiveness, and I actually really enjoyed my time alone. It was a great time to go see that movie that Harrison said sounded like “a total bummer.”
Harrison came home, laid down in bed and was immediately engulfed by our cats. And everything was in its rightful place again.
He’s probably going to have more trips in the coming months, and he’s going on a quick comedy tour in February. The thing I have to remind myself of is that I’ve done the solo thing before – before Harrison and for brief stints during our relationship. And damnit, I’m good at it. It’s just not my normal state after this many years of steady companionship. I have someone to go to plan meals with, to shop with, to see a movie with. I love that. But it’s easy to lose yourself in it. I’ll always be excited for him to come home, but I’m getting to a place of content and gratitude for the time I have to be alone and grow and just be.