Now to Dinner

Tell me about your ideal weekend day. If you had a full twelve hours empty — what would you do? Where would you begin?

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Let’s not start by opening Gmail, launching Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, just seeing who’s out there (and trying not to feel too discouraged about it) on Tinder. Let’s not feel thirty times lonelier than we did three minutes ago. Nope! Not today.

I always feel like we’re given a chance to do things differently, at the beginning of a new month. There’s something about a clean calendar page.

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I wonder what’s going right, for you. What’s going well?

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What about what needs improvement — I wish you’d tell me about that, too.

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I was going back and forth with a friend the other day, trading lists, and we came to the conclusion that neither of us knows anyone who has it all. Even the people who look like they do, don’t. It helps to remember this, on a dreary Sunday afternoon with absolutely zero now-to-dinner plans.

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I have got to find a way to meet more people in Oregon. Make more friends. Connect with someone, anyone. And really connect, actually connect.

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I’m not typically overly dramatic, but if you asked me to describe my current situation, I would look at you with big eyes and pronounce: D-I-R-E!

It just wasn’t this hard in Maine or New York. It has never been this hard. I had family right around, then. And friends. Friends all up and down the same coast, all within a day’s drive. People I could text or call and say, hey, want to get coffee? Want to try X restaurant? Want to come over and make X? Want to go on X hike?

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I have friends in Portland, after a year and a half, but most of them fall under the acquaintance/co-worker category. I call them “surface-level” friends when I describe them to my mom. We can talk about our jobs and the rain and a movie that just came out, but we don’t get into things like hopes or dreams or worries or fears. Read: the kinds of conversation I crave, as an introvert.

Can I just say — there’s nothing wrong with these friendships. These friends. I’m grateful to have them. We hang out for an hour or two once every couple of weeks, and we have fun. But truthfully, we don’t know each other very well. And people’s lives are so full that it’s hard to get together more often, et cetera, et cetera, fill in the blank. You know how it is.

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What about when your life is decidedly NOT full? (How do you not feel like the only one?) And how do you go about making a best friend, as a twenty-five year old. Because that’s what I really need. Just one person I could really talk to and easily spend time with. Just one person who’d want to exchange recipes, books, clothes, work triumphs, relationship advice, bakery recommendations, exercise routines, that kind of thing. Just one person I could lean on, tell everything to. 

I don’t know how my Monday-Friday can feel so full and my Saturday/Sunday so empty. I don’t know how to have more in common with the people I do meet. I don’t know how to stop missing home, even though that’s no longer Maine but not really Arizona and definitely not NYC.

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I don’t know how to adjust to my new family — the one that’s scattered all over. The one I see once a year if I’m lucky. The one with parents in two places, and siblings plus babies and fiancés, all of a sudden.

I’d be lying if I said I never trudged up the fire escape to my studio wondering whether I should go back east. I’d be lying if I said I never took care to flip my comforter closed in the middle of the night, so my spot would still be warm when I slipped back into bed. I’d be lying if I said I never woke up with salty tears — of shame, of hurt, of something — insistently tracking down both cheeks.

But sometimes I get so close to feeling like Portland is home, could be home, if just a few more things would fall into place. I think of how far I’ve come since I first walked these streets so thick with fog, and I think to myself, in a voice probably most like my mom’s: Patience, lovebug. Patience.

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“I wanted to tell her not to entertain despair like this. Despair wasn’t a guest, you didn’t play its favorite music, find it a comfortable chair. Despair was the enemy.” -Janet Fitch

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.” -Rainbow Rowell

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“When you are 100% happy being single, you are ready for a relationship.” -Tony Gaskins

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” -L.M. Montgomery

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness.” -Drew Barrymore

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“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” -John Joseph Powell

“I stand before him naked. He leads me to the bathtub and I kneel on a towel and close my eyes. You’re so beautiful. You’re so beautiful. Is the water ok? His hands untangle all the dancing I did, all the drinks I had. The smoke and the glitter fall out of my hair and into the drain. I love you. I love you. In his soft hands I unravel and float towards the bottom of the tub humming. You’re so beautiful, you’re so beautiful. Is the water ok?” -Cecilie K., The Water Is Good

“You are most beautiful whenever you are most comfortable. Whenever you are most you.” -Donte Collins

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“I like someone reaching for my hand. Curling up against their chest, feeling skin on skin, the presence and nearness of another person: Not even talking, just having the otherness nearby, feeling acutely the opposite of loneliness.” -Posie Harwood

“It wasn’t a thing I had consciously missed, but having it now reminded me of the joy of it; that drowsy intimacy in which a man’s body is accessible to you as your own, the strange shapes and textures of it like a sudden extension of your own limbs.” -Diana Gabaldon

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“I can’t hold enough of you in my hands.” -Franz Kafka

“The Velveteen Rabbit was about how little kids get one toy that they love more than all the others, and even when its fur has been rubbed off, and it’s gone saggy with bits missing, the child still thinks it’s the most beautiful toy in the world, and can’t bear to be parted from it. That’s how it works, when people really love each other.” -Helen Fielding

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” -Michael Ondaatje

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“I’m trying to learn the kind of brave you taught me — pulling down the gates, letting go of control.” -Sade Andria Zabala

“There are some experiences in life they haven’t invented the right words for.” -Lisa Kleypas

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond you’re in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.” -C. Joybell C.

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“You’re so afraid to lead with your heart that you’re dying inside.” -Susan Elizabeth Phillips

“He saw the notebooks piled up, messy edges and pages sticking out. He asked me if I liked to write, and I said yes. But the truth is, I only write when I’m sad. I wish I didn’t have to write in the first place.” -Unknown

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“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” -Greg Child

{Trail of Two Forests at Mt. St. Helens via @zackkore, March watercolor via @rachelsayumiporter, savory snack spread via @cheeseandcrack, PDX through the fence via @akaseventhowl, cherry blossom street via @findfarah, Fremont Bridge via @kyle.pnw, Koosah Falls trees via @ryan_field_, rainy NW Portland via @aspensummit, PNW road via @kyleeger, barely-there trees via @forrestmankins, mirror gallery via @erinchristanne, Deschutes National Forest via @ryan_field_, Mt. Hood from Marine Drive via @kyle.pnw, heart wall art via @localhaven, La Push via @andrewtkearns, PDX at sunrise via @justin.watts — all on Instagram.}

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