A Few Good Sentences

Blogging is a poor substitute for the live conversation I really want to have this afternoon. It’s a sad stand-in for the rich, meaningful, two-way connection I continue to be unable to conjure up.

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That being said, writing typically brings about some measure of relief. New posts tend to bring people out of the woodwork. A family member might call. A friend from high school or college might text. An old co-worker may shoot me an email. A stranger from Instagram may slide into my DMs. Everything we do, we do in an effort to connect.

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But I don’t know how successful I’m going to be today, because I can’t write about the things I want to write about. Need to write about.

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I can’t tell you what it’s like to live on 10 hugs a year. I can’t get into what’s going on at work. [What happened, what happens now, and what might happen.] I can’t share anything new [or definitive] about Portland. I can’t talk about the links I have bookmarked, or the book on my bedside table, or the wedding I’m missing tomorrow, or the email I have saved to my drafts.

Dating, relationships, family, money, work, anxiety, loneliness, regret, grief, what my mom so rightly calls “old tape” — I can’t write about any of it. What this does is make me feel even more isolated, which, now that I think about it, may explain why I’m no longer much of a blogger.

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I spend the majority of my weekends walking around. Quietly observing people linking elbows, clinking classes, drinking coffee, enjoying brunch, getting groceries, holding hands, walking their dogs. I look at them and wonder why it’s so hard to risk a smile. Why it’s such a hurdle to say hi.

How do you make friends, as an introvert? How do you meet people, when you don’t really like to drink? How are you ever supposed to find someone, when truth be told, you’re somewhat of a homebody, and 9 times out of 10, you’d rather wake up early than go to sleep late?

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[Hint: you don’t move across the country, thousands of miles away from your family and the close friends you do have. You don’t try to settle into a new city without a wingman. You don’t get a job at a company with a dearth of people in your age bracket. You don’t just harbor these grand hopes of finding your people organically, over time. You don’t rely primarily on Bumble, in the meantime. And you don’t underestimate what an effort it will be to coax yourself out of your comfort zone, over and over and over again.]

The kind of people watching I do is anything but fun. The people streaming by on the sidewalk and spilling out into the street make it look so easy. Seeing how light and carefree they are makes me feel like such a failure. Such a reject. I wouldn’t want to spend time with me either. People watching in Portland is the opposite of propping myself up.

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I take the long way back to my apartment and wonder when they last cried, and what about. I wonder if their lives are as perfect as look, as we like to lead each other to believe. I wonder what’s the most difficult conversation they’ve ever had, and what last made them lose sleep. I wonder how long it’s been since they looked up at a sky dripping with stars.

I wonder who’s the first person to cross their mind when they watch a moon disappear at dawn. I wonder what they wish for when they blow out birthday candles, or drop a penny into a fountain, or catch 11:11 on a digital clock. I wonder what they do when they’re not doing themselves any favors. I wonder how long it’s been since they looked at someone and thought I love you; I love you so damn much, the conviction clear and undeniable, ringing out loud as a bell.

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From where I stand/sit/pace, growing up is a long, squiggly road with a mostly accurate but definitely occasionally errant GPS. Hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it?

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I know each of us does the best we can until we know better and are able to do better. I know our only real jobs are to be gentle with ourselves and each other, to forgive ourselves for not knowing what we didn’t know until we knew it, and to do our best to move forward with a little more insight, a little more courage, and a lot more compassion. We call this bravery. But goodness, it’s hard. I just want someone I can tell the truth to. I just want someone I can talk to about the real things.

In the absence of someone to listen close and sketch slow circles up and down my back (b-r-e-a-t-h-e), and in the interest of not opening up too much to a faceless Internet, I’ll close with a few good sentences I came across this week.

“Kindness begins with understanding we all struggle.” -Charles Glassman

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“At this very minute, millions of women across the globe are texting each other ‘That’s great news!’ ‘Yayyyy!’ ‘Soooo cute!’ ‘Congrats!’ ‘Amazeballs!’ They are sending each other bursting-heart emoji and Champagne-toasting emoji and dancing-girl emoji. And as they send all of these gushing messages, their faces are flat, bored, a little tired. It’s like a virtual global bridal shower that’s been going on so long we hardly even notice how our mimosas have warmed to room temperature and our delighted smiles have drooped into a kind of sad rictus of pain and dread. But you’re not the only one who feels left out. This makes finding the people who care a lot, who believe in something, who can appreciate and enjoy and celebrate the sticky, confusing folds of real life, who dig deeper and try harder every day, all the more thrilling to know. You are someone who says OUR WORLD IS BIG AND BEAUTIFUL AND MADDENING AND I WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE ALL OF IT — just preferably not with an eye roll meme. There are other people out there like you. Stick your neck out and be brave. You’ll find them.” -Heather Havrilesky

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“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.” -Scott Westerfeld

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” -Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.” -Hermann Hesse

“Go out in the early days of winter, after the first cold snap of the season. Find a pool of water with a sheet of ice across the top, still fresh and new and clear as glass. Near the shore the ice will hold you. Slide out farther. [Farther than that.] Keep going. Find the place where the surface just barely bears your weight. There you will feel what I felt. The ice splinters under your feet. Look down and you can see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spider webs. It is perfectly silent, but you can feel the sudden sharp vibrations through the bottoms of your feet. That is what happened when Denna smiled at me.” -Patrick Rothfuss

“Some people there’s no getting over.” -Lisa Kleyplas

“Do we ever move on from people? Or do we just cover them up?” -Unknown

“I watched them dance together. Her head was on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day. The image of them gently swaying to the music is how I picture love in my mind even after all these years.” -Patrick Rothfuss

“You know the reason The Beatles made it so big? …‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. Brillant. Perhaps the most brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24/7 sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche or a million-dollar home. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.” -Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

“There is a primal reassurance in being touched, in knowing that someone else, someone close to you, wants to be touching you. There is a bone-deep security that goes with the brush of a human hand, a silent, reflex-level affirmation that someone is near, that someone cares.” -Jim Butcher

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” -Margaret Mead

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“A kiss on the forehead—erases misery. I kiss your forehead.” -Maria Tsvetaeva

“It’s not always a pleasant experience to have our certainties stripped away. Sureness is something like a neck brace, which we clamp around our lives, hoping to somehow protect ourselves from the frightening, constant whiplash of change. Sadly, the brace doesn’t always hold. I could list for you a tragicomic litany of all the things I was once mistakenly completely certain about, and I’m sure you can do the same. Maybe you, too, were once absolutely sure that you’d found your great love, or your final best friend, or the perfect mentor, meditation, or medication that would — once and for all — never fail you. And then? So I try very hard to go easy on the firm conclusions. These days I settle for feeling only 85% sure about most things, most of the time. I believe this is keeping me sane, and I also believe that it’s keeping me human. In fact, I’m 85% sure of it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

“Acceptance, when it comes, arrives in waves: Listen with your chest. You will feel a pendulum swing within you, favoring one direction or another. And that is your answer. The answer is always inside your chest. The right choice weighs more. That’s how you know. It causes you to lean in its direction.” -Augusten Burroughs

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“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.” -Robert M. Pirsig

“We were talking about work, and he put down his cup of coffee and said, ‘Listen. You don’t live at the office. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.’ That was what he said. This was what I heard: 1. Whatever the work is, do it well — not for the boss but for yourself. 2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you. 3. Your real life is with us, your family. 4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are. 5. Never place the security of a job above the value of home.” -Toni Morrison

“I’m lonely. I’m lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely — how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the shit out of me because it seems catastrophic. It’s like seeing the car just as it hits you.” -Augusten Burroughs

“The things we feel most alone with are, by definition, a shared reality with millions of others, separated by shame and shyness.” -Alain de Botton

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“‘There’s no such thing as ready,’ she says. ‘There’s only willing.’” -Rachel Cohn

{Silver Falls State Park via @reedfilms, little house via @monascherie, Mt. Hood #1 via @nicholas_steven_, wildflowers via @jtotheboyd, pretty trail via @meganleevoigt, river via @dustykleiner, Mt. Hood #2 via @andrewgolesch, grassy field via @jakeegbert, Portland skyline via @createwitnate, Mt. St. Helens/plane via @jakeegbert, Mt. Baker via @scott_kranz — all on Instagram.}

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3 thoughts on “A Few Good Sentences

  1. If I were there in your part of this crazy go round world I would wrap my arms around you, pull you close, close enough to feel the warmth of my heart, close enough to whisper gently that you are worthy of love, close enough to feel your body surrender, close enough to keep you from slipping away shattering into a million tiny pieces. But I’m not there and I hope by being here online with you that it will somehow be enough.

  2. This is beautiful, despite it’s sadness. It encapsulates what it feels like to be on the outside so perfectly. I hope that you will find a connection soon. Something that will ease these feelings and allow you to open yourself slightly.

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