Penny for Your Thoughts

Wrong turns are as important as right turns. More important, sometimes. What do you think?


What are you thinking about, these days?

I’m thinking about a dog. A dog I could run home and let out on my lunch break, probably pretty easily. I’m thinking about a boy in line, buying coffee on a Saturday morning. Correction: coffees, plural. With two to-go lids.


I’m thinking about online dating, and three other inevitabilities. I’m thinking about my mom, driving down to Arizona. I’m thinking about an emotion I can’t identify, billowing up like the moment the milk hits and changes the color of the content in my cup.


I’m thinking about the plant I am by turns nurturing and neglecting. The one that doesn’t seem to like sitting on the windowsill and I don’t seem to like sitting on the floor. Do you think I can be an aspiring plant lady with two plants? And no plant stands?


I’m thinking about warmer nights and longer days. Bloomed roses. New beginnings.


Always, new beginnings.


I’m thinking about a girl with constellations on her ears. A heart that feels entirely too big for her body today. I’m thinking about a girl who misses her family and friends more than she can say. More than she can even think about, without blinking really rapidly.

I’m thinking about a girl who lost weight a few too many weeks in a row, and has to slog through gaining it back again. Find more ways to be okay with it.


I’m back to thinking Portland might not be permanent. I’m back to thinking no further ahead than this savory yogurt & egg breakfast salad situation.


Thinking in temporary terms — this has always been an enormous source of comfort for me. (For better or worse.)

Here’s another thought, though. I think people are a little afraid of other people’s sadness. I’m a little scared of other people’s sadness, at least. My own doesn’t bother me terribly, anymore — I’m not sad-sad now. Sometimes I just get a bit too stuck in the past or a bit too worried about the future.

I might not stay here forever — it might just not work out, on the friend-making front and the career advancement front — but I’m going to try my hardest to make myself as happy as I can, while I am here.


This means nesting in my little apartment, with its glorious seven o’clock light. This means taking the long way home, with a detour to the farmer’s market for flowers so beautiful I could just burst.


I’m drawn to people who are determined to make the best of it. Who feel lucky for 3,409,381 reasons, and up and down for 7,939,710 others. I’m drawn to people who know who they are and are getting a better and better sense of what they want.


I’m also drawn to people who feel familiar, in some inexplicable way. I’m having trouble with that out here. I don’t think the Type As of the world tend to congregate in Portland.

If I look at the city on paper — if I consider the restaurants and the bookstores, the roses and the bridges, the waterfalls and the mountains — it still feels like the perfect place to be. I should probably be careful with that word, perfect.


But it’s almost as if I’m looking in all of the wrong places, for the people that could be friends. Surely everyone is not either incredibly hipster or incredibly weird. Surely I am small-minded for thinking, where are all of the girls that smile back? Where are the boys that look like my brothers, like the boys I went to school with?

I wonder what you’d think about it. Whether you’d agree with me, or whether you’d be able to get me to see it differently.


“It’s funny that we think of the voice in our head as our own and that we tend to believe it and value what it says, when so often it’s contradictory, unhelpful, and unkind. We are so much kinder and more courageous than this voice, which is often fearful and upset with life.” -Gina Lake

“In that instant, I started seeing my body as my ally, and I started nurturing a new belief that I could trust my body to tell me the truth. Pain, after all, is the body talking. Panic is the body talking. More times than not the message is simply, ‘There is more to heal.’” -Andrea Gibson

“Healing comes in waves and maybe today the wave hits the rocks. That’s ok, darling. That’s okay.” -Ijeoma Umebinyuo

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” -Tyrion Lannister

“I don’t know — maybe the world has two different kinds of people, and for one kind the world is this completely logical, rice pudding place, and for the other it’s all hit-or-miss macaroni gratin.” -Haruki Murakami

“The only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, that they didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” -Ted Hughes

“If you’re smart, you care. And if you care, you love.” -Lauren Oliver

“He doesn’t write poems but you hope he loves you like one. You hope he sees you like a sculpture, like paint, like clay, like something he can get on his hands.” -Ashe Vernon

“If you’re lucky enough to have a group of close friends that you connect with deeply, who are in your same season of life, all right in your very own town, I hope that you soak it up, that you lie around each other’s backyards every Saturday afternoon and stay up late on each other’s porches three nights a week.” -Shauna Niequist

“For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that ‘unless you love yourself, no one else will love you’ …The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.” -Bruce D. Perry

“If you are someone who knows the worst thing can happen at any time, aren’t you also someone who knows the best thing can happen at any time too?” – Jandy Nelson

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” -Bob Goff

“It gets infinitely better as you get older. You figure out that what your butt looks like is 143rd on the list of what is meaningful here, during our brief stay. You throw stuff out of the plane that keeps you flying too low.” -Anne Lamott

“Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you.” -Walt Whitman

{Portland via @justinwatts & Diablo Lake via @emitoms, both on Instagram.}


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