Solo traveling is good for the soul. A little uncomfortable, a little scary, but ultimately, good for the soul.
The displacement and discomfort are good for reminding you of what you value, what you enjoy, what you are like. Take away all the comforts of familiarity, and there you are, just you and some time and this new place, getting (re)acquainted with each other in the break from reality, mundanity.
This elongated weekend in San Francisco has had me strolling unfamiliar streets, in unabashed admiration of the copycat-European architecture, walking quickly when I feel like it, walking slowly when I feel like that. Breathing deeply.
I’ve memorized Google’s directions to ice cream places and famous landmarks — to be able to walk like a local, no smartphone glow lighting the way for me — taking my time to look into people’s faces and into stores where locals are bustling, to see what it’s all about.
I’ve been heartbroken by the people who sit in the pee-covered curbs finding privacy right there in the open, to sleep, to beg, to do drugs.
Miles and miles of city blocks in all their upsy-downsy glory, two grapefruits bought at a Hispanic grocery store, one ride with “the best Uber conversation” ever. Which he confirmed. We high-fived on it.
I am reminded of me at my best self. My smiles-at-strangers self. My broad-comfort-zone self. My pondering-while-walking self. My asks-strangers-interesting-questions self.
I’ve missed that self.
Thank you, San Fran, for reminding me of her. Of me.
life’s been throwing me around like a bully, these days. lessons left and right. punch and sucker punch.
in response, as expected, I have been singing those songs of self-pity like it’s my job.
and then, life schools me again. about singing those dang songs.
after all the drama of home-searching, I came right back to the first little square I started from and will be MOVING SOON and subsequently, have been purging the apartment and the closet of things I’ve been holding onto in hopes of filling a home in a next lease. or maybe the one after.
basically, holding onto things that don’t have a place in my current life or even the next immediate one, maybe. who KNOWS where I’ll even be living in another year from now? who KNOWS what kinds of things I’ll need? it’s funny because these are the very questions that once caused me to scrounge and hold onto things — and now they’re my reason for letting gooo ~ !
so I’ve been selling off some of my wares — the odd lamp here and there, a bathroom cabinet I have not needed in over a year and a half, wall hangings that haven’t seen the light of day in who knows how long, a book that I got as a gift but literally never read, cause it’s a coffeetable book and who has time to read the coffeetable books in their own home? no one.
one item from my closet was a winter jacket, a nice jacket, warm and low-key, just the way I like my winter jackets. but I decided that it had to go, because it was redundant in my closet. so went it did. go it went? goes it goed? I sold it.
with MUCH SELLER’S REMORSE! right after it had been claimed from my posting, I stewpidly began researching the brand + type of jacket and seeing how much MORE other people were selling for and feeling much, much regret for my belated research. why? WHY brain, why? I don’t know.
this is how devious I am: I even tried to think of ways I could TAKE BACK MY POST and somehow sell it for more! but good old conscience kicked in (whew) and saved me from my id.
fast-forward to the day of the trade — Christine came over to my apartment, braving a 45-minute drive through the evening traffic, and as she was handing me the measly bits of cash for my precious second-hand coat, she said,
“Thank you! This is a great coat. My church does a coat drive every winter, so I always try to buy some to donate.”
lesson no. 1: you are a much, much greedier human than you ever even imagined. try to have some space in your heart for other people and stop scrounging for dollar bills. be generous with your heart and your stuff.
in another experience that held up a mirror to my ugliness…
leading up to the weekend trip to RVA was a lot of drama (hm. a theme?) concerning me and my badness at being a good sister and all that guilty jazz. seestre was being sad that I hadn’t been making an effort to come see the art show she was putting on that weekend, and I was feeling bad for having that be pointed out to me.
a couple of productive rants later, Markling gently — ever so gently — reveals that I communicate just the same way my sister had been doing, to me.
it was one of those *drop everything, including jaw* moments. full admission: “you are so. right.”
lesson no. 2: if you find yourself hating something a lot about someone else, go find yourself a character mirror because you might just be reacting to a trait in YOU. or, you may find that the other person has some valid reasons for the way they’re behaving — passes you give yourself all the time because you know your brain and your intentions, but no one else’s. pfft.
the third lesson is deeper and heavier and involves a deep and heavy conversation I had with Merk, about Children and Childrearing and Families and all the beauty and scariness of those things. the “beauty” contributed by Merk and the “fear” portion by me. ending with blubbery me crying about all the things that could go wrong with having a baby and trying to raise it to be an okay human being in this world. wow.
lesson no. 3: fear is a huge, but sneaky, driver of a lot of my life “decisions.” air quotes there because if fear is the motivator toward or away from something, are you even truly getting to decide? I’m not sure.
and if these fears are so big and so overwhelming, to the point of refusing to let you dream some dreams and pursuing some pursuits… where’s your faith in God in all of this? do you really believe that He’s sovereign over your life and your comings and goings and even your elections? do you believe that He’s good? (and that’s even when things don’t go the way you think they should.) I dunno. I have to chew the cud on this one a bit more.
and most recently, and shallowly, lesson-wise:
after much consternation and lower-lip pouting, I took myself to a Costco to get that dang tire replaced. [don’t tell my dad; he doesn’t know yet] I nicked one of the tires on a mean old curb that was probably sticking out its leg, trying to trip me. and it was time to get that tire replaced, finally.
so I went. to Costco. because I figured it would be cheaper than going to the dealer!
…which it wasn’t.
+ I was stuck at Costco (which doesn’t sound too bad…)
+ for THREE HOURS (AGH)
and no one to rescue me, because it was a Monday afternoon when normal people are at work and otherwise far away.
I walked around slowly, which killed about one hour, then consoled myself with a Very Berry Sundae and stood in the book pile and read for another hour.
hour 2: I decided to go ask the desk lady if my car was ready yet. she said no. and then said “oh wait, yeah” — indeed it had been ready for a whole half hour. no one had contacted me, tho.
grateful, still, I went out to my car…to find that the WRONG TIRE HAD BEEN REPLACED. I was a little miffed, but not at the point of feeling SCHOOLED just yet. but when I walked over to the garage and no one knew how to help me, and then when I walked over to the desk lady and she didn’t know how to help me, I just wanted to cry, actually.
so I did.
loud, sobby, snot-running tears, right in front of the manager, who was bewildered and worried looking, as he very well should have been. tears of frustration, sure, and helplessness, but also very much tears of “I am cold and tired and sad for having wasted so much of my time here today.”
not that they were intentionally manipulative, but they sure got him to jump to action and get my original tire back on my car and get rid of that nicked one right away, the right way.
lesson no. 4: sometimes you cry for a lot more layers of reasons than your audience will know. and that’s okay. even useful, sometimes. that day was hard because of having run so many miles in the morning and having spent so much money and time on what seemed like a never-ending problem.
also, that custard in that Costco sundae was not as tasty as you remembered. so remember that next time.
I think the layering of all these lessons on my heart have been hard on me. less resilient and more prone to tears because my membrane had been worn thin already. the lessons get shallower and shallower and my heart gets fuller and fuller — to the point of bursting into tears, if you prod just a lil.
it’s okay though — reminds me I’m human, reminds me that I need to take breaks from running (literally and metaphorically), to rest my body and my mind and my soul and that sensitivity membrane so I can take more of those sucker punches that come, sadly but surely, along with those precious life lessons.
small interactions that have changed my life for the better in the past 2ish days:
Friday, 10 July 2015, Duck Donuts lady #1 –> thank you for your cheerful attitude!
Saturday, 11 July 2015, Regal circledesk lady with the fly glasses –> thank you for your competence and efficiency!
Saturday, 11 July 2015, sbux via drivethru…yyyeah –> are you the man behind the screen? well. thank you all for making my day this much better!!
it doesn’t cost that much — the extra effort to give a smile, and return a thank you. in fact, it gives forward so much more than the effort of your smile muscles. so why not. stop a moment before reacting from the grumpy you and think about the marginal grumpreturn of your marginal grumpinteraction for that unrelated person in front of you, [often] innocent and undeserving of your lash-out.