Are We in Or Are We out, Oregon

It’s early. Too early, I agree. Even for me. Dawn’s still only a shadow of a smudge in the upper left-hand corner of the sky. But there are all of these sentence-thoughts, jumping up and down and jostling for attention, so here we are, pen and pencil at the ready. We will slow-Sunday next weekend, I promise.

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This is what has gotten me thinking too long and too hard, already today. What if we didn’t give people links to our pasts? (Such direct links.) What if we were to meet a person, a person we’d be interested in knowing more about, and we chose to just start with where we are. Now, today. Not a day backwards, not a day forwards.

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The Internet makes this hard to do, I think. You meet someone you like, you file away their first and last name, and you go home and you Google them. Admit it. I will admit it. We won’t use the S wordthe fact that everyone does his or her fair share of it makes it marginally less creepy. Nod your head yes.

But what if we resisted the urge. What if we didn’t try to glean as much information about a person as we could, without actually getting to know them at all. What if we made the choice to get to know each other the old-fashioned way? Over twin cups of coffee, over the course of a long drive. On a well-worn path to the kind of mountain-top experience we’re all looking for, when we’re being honest.

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What if we offered each other the luxury of revealing exactly how much we wanted to reveal, on nobody’s timetable but our own?

I’m beginning to think this is what I want. I think I’d been nursing the small mad hope that somebody would find my blog someday and fall in love with the words I write. But now I wish he (whoever he is, whoever he turns out to be) doesn’t find it. I hope meeting me will prove to be enough of a way in.

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I did meet someone yesterday. (Somebody I — okay, fine — did Google, in a moment of weakness.) He could have easily been taken, or utterly uninterested and just very polite, but somehow I didn’t think so. Whether I’m right or wrong on that score doesn’t actually matter very much — what matters is he made me wonder, and want to write again.

I liked his voice when I called him, lost. I liked how faintly amused looked on him, when I saw him. I liked the way he walked, unhurried and easy. I liked the way he looked at me when he spoke. (Is direct eye contact becoming a thing of the past? I hope not.) I liked his beard, even as I pictured him without it. I know this man. This is the coffee shop man.

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I liked his questions. I liked that he chose his words carefully. I liked not knowing whether or not he recognized me, from back then. I liked his jeans, his hands, his choice of a place to live. I liked the flash of warmth he gave me, and the cozy Sunday scene (arms around arms, legs around legs) I suddenly saw in the apartment he was showing me.

But do you know what I really liked? Knowing he has only been a few blocks away, all of this time. Because do you know what that says? Possibility. That’s what that says to me. If not him, then surely somebody else, someday.

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I bet you’re thinking I’m crazy — but I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to feel that pull again.

That stands even if I did imagine the whole thing, and his eyes didn’t search mine for a second out on the sidewalk, and he didn’t have to squash the inexplicable [insane] urge to lean in for a quick hug, rather than reach out for the far more appropriate handshake we both elected to skip.

Because what’s big here is this: all those shiny, bubbly hopes I was so convinced I’d never have again? Well…I may have spoken too soon.

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I probably won’t ever see him again. My rational mind knows this. But then again, it is a small neighborhood, so you never know. I could go back to that coffee shop I’ve been avoiding since I regained weight. I could come up with a reason to call him — I could apply for that apartment and feign confusion about some piece of the application process or remember a question I’d forgotten to ask. I could look him up and probably find out 15 things about him, if I really wanted to. But I don’t. He has my name, first and last, and he wrote down my number. He knows I’m here, I’m around. And if he’s interested, he’ll call. And we could learn more about each other that way, at that point.

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I’m slightly less sure about next steps here, on the blog. You’ve gathered that I’m done writing about anorexia, and I’m shifting away from wanting to share so much. Yes? Yes.

Anorexia finally feels like a part of my past. Old, ill-fitting, outdated, and no longer really relevant. When I introduce myself to someone now, I don’t feel like I need or want to get into it. I don’t see myself as sick anymore, and nobody else does either. I think the only reason why I’d been clinging to that time, when everything was upside down and backward and sad, was because I needed it to justify [to myself] how I look now. And all of a sudden, I no longer do.

I’m curvy. I’m also smart and compassionate and awesomely sensitive. I wear clothes and colors that make me feel pretty, and I don’t need to defend the way I do or don’t look to anyone.

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I’d hoped that Portland would be a place for me to start over. I’d naively hoped it wouldn’t be so hard, or take so long, but here we are.

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Portland no longer feels like Are-we-in-or-are-we-out, Oregon. Sometime in March, I dropped the question mark, and the little lilt to my voice. I switched my health insurance over to my employer’s. I started actually trying to make friends. I started quietly looking for another apartment, a longer lease.

I still have 10 trillion questions,  don’t get me wrong. About where to go and what to do, and some days, just simply how we do this. How does anybody do this. I’ve been looking at these NYC-esque studios, and I can’t help but wonder: how many more years of stark white walls, square box rooms, and crowded closet-kitchens? How many more years of wishing for somewhere sturdy and solid and so achingly familiar? How many more years until I feel like I’m home?

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But I can see, much more easily now, how it will all come. How it is coming, already. The full-time job and the benefits and the ability to write on the side and the place of my own to live — those were all just dreams, not so long ago. So was being this close to the Oregon coast, for that matter.

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So I take it one day at a time. I try out new ingredients and new recipes, and I load the freezer up with more single-serve meals. I put flowers on the table. I call my mom. I make lists of places I want to go. I crank the music while I do the dishes. I text my friends on the east coast. I miss them. I take pictures. I collect quotes. I spend every spare minute outside I can, away from all the noise. I keep it light and bright and so determinedly not-sad. And it works, 90% of the time. It really does.

{St. John’s Bridge via @jackhulbert, Mountain View via @this.is.mike, S curve via @monascherie, Minimalist Flowers via @nathiya, Low Tide via @andy_best, Lost Lake via @alex.mcintosh, A-frame via @robstrok, and Oregon Coast via @galloway.mike85, all on Instagram.}

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