6:00am

I live in an apartment building with five U-shaped wings, one stacked on top of the other. This wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, except that what this configuration means is my side windows and my neighbor’s side windows (on the opposite end of the hall) match up exactly. This means what I failed to realize it would when I moved in: lots of awkward eye contact.

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Their living room stares straight into my kitchen. My bedroom peeks into their bedroom. Our bathrooms face each other. (Am I the only one slightly skeptical about those frosty windows?) It’s not exactly ideal, although I wouldn’t trade a single one of my windows. Even on a dark day, they let in such generous slices of sun.

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I do my best to keep my eyes averted, obviously, but our eyes are trained to follow movement. We’ve come to an unspoken agreement, my neighbors and I: whenever one of us has the lights on and shades open in the early morning or early evening, the other does not.

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Still, I’m 70% sure they’ve seen me in my underwear, rooting around for the Greek yogurt at 6:00am. That refrigerator light? It’ll get ya.

It’s a couple, across the way and by the way. And I honestly do make every effort not to glance over there — both because I think everybody is entitled to their privacy, and because avoiding even the smallest glimpses of them makes my non-togetherness seem less sharp.

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Are you lonely? I am so lonely. It’s always 50x worse after my mom has come and gone.

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It isn’t just romantic love I miss. It’s connection of all kinds. Actually, only one kind: the real kind.

There are people I can call and text and email, of course. But I’m not good on the phone; I need the face. Texting feels hollow, and I don’t want the Internet. I want the opposite of the Internet. The Internet is like a big emotional shortcut.

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It can’t really get harder and harder to find people you hit it off with as you age, can it? It seems to me that shouldn’t be the case. I’m hoping I’m wrong — I wish you’d prove me wrong — but it does feel like the pool is a lot smaller, and people have fences up in odd, unexpected places, and while it is relatively easy to meet someone once and have a decent time with them, it is very hard to weave them into your everyday life, or really feel moved enough to want to.

And then there is this, too: everyone is very busy. Busy all of the time. Go-go-go.

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I just can’t quite bring myself to do more than hover over the Tinder app on my phone. I think about online dating, and I re-read some of the things I’ve written on here, and I think what you probably think: this girl is going to get eaten alive.

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How do you trust people? How do you put walls up? I don’t want to put walls up.

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What I want is for intellect to click off and for emotion to take over. What I really want is just a good chance. That’s all any of us can ask for, I think.

I don’t want a vague and temporary tug, something pretty purely physical. I don’t seem to be wired that way. I don’t want heat without warmth, and I won’t settle for warmth without heat.

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I do think you can learn something from everyone. Absolutely everyone you meet — whether or not there’s a temperature spike when they enter the room. Everyone has a good story. Whether it’s one they like to tell a little too loudly, or one they like to hug close to their chest, or one they’ve carefully buried away. People’s experiences are interesting. People’s inconsistencies are interesting.

But I do wonder (and worry) if without that initial spark, you’re pretty much toast.

Maybe it’s something else that changes as you get older. Maybe it is possible to just look at someone you’ve known with new eyes one day. Maybe you can just start out as friends and have that friendship morph into something else, eventually.

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It just hasn’t ever been that way for me. I’ve never been friends-first with anyone I’ve dated. This is actually kind of nice, because then there is no real question of friends-after. It’s just a done deal. (After you get all of the wellll, but is it really a done deal question marks out of the way. You know how it is.)

Maybe I just need to be more patient. And outgoing. And aware. And grateful to have met even one person up for putting himself out there, in any real kind of way.

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________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I’ve stopped being sorry for all my soft. I won’t apologize because I miss you, or because I said it, or because I texted you first, or again. I think everyone spends too much time trying to close themselves off. I don’t want to be cool or indifferent, I want to be honest. I won’t wait double the time it takes for you to text me back because I don’t want to. I’m happy, you made me feel that way, don’t you want to know? So that’s how it’s going to be. I’m going to leave myself as open as a church door. And I’m going to wake you up before the crack of dawn to tell you that there’ll be no pretending, not from me, not now, not ever. These are my hands, this is my mouth, they’re all yours.” -Azra.T, Don’t Wait Three Days to Text First

{Affirmation banner via @secretholidayco, mountain view via @josh_hydeman, tent view via @robstrok, Toketee Falls via @snickersv, KURE smoothie via @jordanerinn, downtown Portland via @robbyzabala, Latourell Falls via @imbradnolsen, water ripples via @bythebrush, St. John’s Bridge via @nicholaspeterwilson, Portland waterfront via @megaguire — on all Instagram.}

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