Thor, For A Day

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I’m flexible.

People LOVE hearing this. — When you’re making a hair appointment. Scheduling a business meeting. Booking a trip. Meeting up for drinks. Planning a date. Nailing down an interview. Mastering a yoga pose. — Everyone just loves to know that they’re working with a little (or a LOT) of wiggle room.

Man, what is it about all that wiggle room?

I was having a moment last week. One of those “Happiness Doesn’t Exist and Love Is Dead” moments. Yes, I’ve had quite a few of those this year. It was Wednesday night, and after driving away, as fast as humanly possible, from a “flexible” second date with the World’s Most Boring Man, I found myself walking down the shoe isle at a strip-mall Marshall’s around 9:00PM, for emergency-nocturnal-retail-therapy. My hair was a mess and my eye make-up was all smeary from tearing up in the car while listening to The National and feeling sorry for myself. And, as I stared at myself in the Marshall’s full length mirror, wearing a pair of brown, clearance ankle-boots with three inch heels, I felt the Earth beneath the white, linoleum floor of the strip mall, shift. I’m not sure if it was my anger or my peace that sent the high-wattage volts of badass-ery flowing up through my curvy thighs, but, I decided then and there: I’m done making concessions for myself this year.

With just two months left in my Year of Happiness, I often find myself wondering how “Happy” I’ll really be when it’s all over. When I turn thirty-three, will I have learned enough? Changed enough? Seen enough? — And, the truth is, I don’t know. Probably not. But, I do know this — for a lifetime, I’ve let flexibility be an excuse more often than I’ve let it open me up to possibility. Time and again,  I’ve said, “Hey, I’ll hang on to this crappy, little relationship/job/hometown/apartment, because, it’s OK, for now. I’m flexible. I can always make changes later.” But, here’s the thing. — I don’t make changes later. — I think about making changes later and never do.

So, looking in the mirror, legs parted in a Thor-like stance, wearing my new clearance boots, with tags still dangling from the zippers, I decided that Happiness isn’t about getting what you want — it’s about asking for it — and not being flexible. I strutted over to the triangular, mirrored bench, unzipping my boots at the anklets, realizing, it’s high time I threw down my own hammer.

After a slew of awful dates, and some not-so-awful dates with guys who couldn’t give a shit about me or my happiness, would you believe that I’ve only met one person in Albany that I’ve had any genuine interest in? And he wasn’t on an app. I met him like real humans meet. At a Friendsgiving dinner way back in November. We didn’t even talk to each other. You know, the way most, awkward, normal, non-bots act when they meet each other. And, later, I asked my roommates about him when we got home. — I heard later that he’d inquired about me as well.

After some mixed, non-communication between our mutual friends, it fizzled. I decided to leave it up in the air, because — Fuck it. — I’m flexible.

But, last Wednesday, in Marshall’s shoe isle, months, and many bad dates later, me and my Thor boots were having none-of-it. When had I become such a chicken shit?

So, under Marshall’s florescent lights, in my socks, I looked up Friendsgiving guy’s Facebook profile and friended him. And, in a not-so-twisty twist of fate, he accepted my request. And, I sent him a message asked him out to coffee. — Under totally dubious, and transparent pretenses, of course. — But, it felt really good. And, in a matter of minutes, after months of being disappointingly “flexible about everything,” all it took was three minutes of being brave to feel somewhat hopeful. And, now, it’s ceased to matter how it all turns out. For now, it only matters that I asked. — Everything else, is just icing on the cake.

And that’s the the thing about Happiness. The greatest lesson from this year, the one I hope I’ll always remember is: Happiness is about what you actually give yourself when you stop being so flexible. Sure, give an inch, but — fight for the mile.

It doesn’t matter if, in the end, everything goes to shit. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. It only matters that you show up — and go for it. — Stop making concessions in the name of flexibility. If there’s anything that you should be inflexible about it’s your own Happiness.

So, I walked out of Marshall’s at 9:30PM with a pair of cheap boots and a new lease on my own Happiness. By 10:30PM, I had made a coffee date with someone I’m fairly confident isn’t insane (or boring). Some things are better when you’re flexible, like, diving for the best-you-can-get-boots at the bottom of a clearance bin. But, some things are worth more. — More time. More effort. And, yes, more risk. Which, sometimes, will involve forcing yourself to move around in a room with a little less flexibility than you’re used to.

You never start out batting 400. Trust me, I know better than anyone, you won’t hit every ball that gets tossed your way. Not even close.

But, your best bet is to swing. Take a strong, inflexible stance. And, bring your hammer down.

 

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A Hopelessly Romantic Mess

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Here’s the thing about Happiness — if you find any of it for yourself, there’s a line of people queued up beside you looking to get thier fair share.

In some ways, finding peace of mind is like winning the lottery. It’s liberating, and frankly, almost magical. But, we don’t live in a vacuum. Life is about connecting. So, finding love, or at the very least, a little romance, has commanded much of my attention of late. And, along with le romance, a few of my old messes have managed to boil over after bubbling on the back burner for a long, long time.

Dating at 32, is the pits. But, living in a new place makes it even worse. I feel like I’ve been walking on the surface of Mars, trying to keep my eyes fixed on what’s right in front of me while constantly tripping over my own feet, distracted by my phone, deciding whether or not to swipe right.

I’ve stopped counting all the bad dates I’ve been on. One bad date, sometimes, turns into two or three bad dates, because I’m still hesitant to throw up my hands and call a spade, a spade. I believe in giving people second chances, often to my own detriment. But, I’m learning quickly that, my best bet, usually, is to trust my gut — cut and run.

Sure, I’ve been some good dates too, but, nothing that’s stuck. Some weeks, it’s almost clinical. I’m juggling my coffee meet-ups like client meetings. I wonder what the fuck it is I’m missing here. I’ve got all this happiness, confidence, a new job, and amazing friends and family — all rooting me on. Yet, this weekend, I found myself sitting alone in my favorite, Albany coffee shop, staring forlornly out the big, glass window, wondering if I even believe in love anymore.

I’ve recently implemented a phone-free half-hour while I enjoy my daily Americano. Even my quest for romance has become hopelessly un-romantic. So, I take my break, gazing out onto Lark Street, watching people walk their big dogs, warm up their cars, and smoke cigarettes on the corner, waiting for the bus, while I sit very still and breathe deeply, managing my varying existential crises.

When you’re constantly in transition and somehow manage to find a rhythm, it’s jarring. You start wondering how and why you’ve become so comfortable. In my case, I start looking for new and better ways to make myself uncomfortable. — And, love is a sure-fire way to fuck your shit up. Especially when you realize that every bad date is just a huge mirror for your own insecurities. I thought that my happiness would draw positive, like-minded people to me like a magnet. But, I’m discovering, the exact opposite is true. Every date has been a reflection of who I used to be. — A bevy of men who want fixing and freedom. — And, suddenly, happiness has turned into a complicated dance where I’m managing my own crap and trying to manage other people’s crap too.

Being a chameleon is a beneficial trait when you’re playing the dating game. Trying on new skins can lead to new, interesting, and exciting experiences. Morphing into different versions of myself has given me the uncanny ability to make people feel comfortable. And, I can tell you from experience, it is far better to be on a date with a comfortable wet blanket than it is to be on a date with an anxious one. But, one lesson from my Year of Happiness has served as a backdrop for all of these new encounters, and has proved to be one of my most valuable dating tools yet. And, that lesson is: I’m not here to fix anyone.

Everyone is a mess, this — I know. I’m cool with messes. I can live in a mess. Heck, I can even make a mess appear neat and tidy. But, I’m done with cleaning messes, especially messes that aren’t my own. So, do I just keep moving from room to room? Do I take a breather and hang out in my bedroom, the one that I just Marie Kondo-ed? Or, do I level with myself and accept that, at 32, I’m not likely to find a room that isn’t totally filthy?

As an obvious hopeless romantic and an admittedly unrealistic, cinema-fed, true love, happily-ever-after kind of girl — this real-love in the real-world thing feels like eating rocks.

A friend of mine, who met her fiancé on an app, gave me this advice: “Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, like, when you are ready to put a gun in your mouth and end it all — book another date. Get out there and fucking go, go, go girl. Do it. Get it. Coffee. Drinks. Walk together somewhere awful. Anything. Go on 20 more bad dates. 30. 50. Because, you can’t give up! Even when you want to die, especially when you want to die — Sarah, you have to keep on swiping!”

So, I do. For better or worse. I keep on swiping, Goddammit. And, when my roommate makes fun of me for not knowing my date’s name as I run out the door to meet him, I laugh it off. Even if it is mildly depressing. Because, Happiness is about Believing. — There’s only so much joy you can spark organizing your own underwear drawer.

Though, I will say this about tidying up — sometimes amidst the mess, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

This weekend, searching for an old sweater, I opened a Rubbermaid bin that I had shipped back East when I moved home from Portland. It had been sitting, duct taped shut, in a corner for over a year. When I pulled back the dusty, plastic lid, sitting at the very top, neatly folded, I found my “I Believe” shirt. A navy tee that features, a unicorn, a jackalope, and a narwhal. And, I was reminded that, beyond our cynicism, inside all of our sealed up boxes, and buried under our filthy piles, in the messiest of our rooms, everyone of us has some forgotten treasure.

Those bits and pieces from our past lives — they don’t need fixing. They’ll always be there, boxed up or buried. Our old heart fragments, lost and forgotten, will always remain among the mess. They need discovering. So, it’s worth a little bit of poking around, even if you have to get your hands dirty.

In all honesty, I’ll never stop believing. — In love or in magic. — Because, I know, when you seek them out, you find them. It’s just, sometimes, we have to remind ourselves how important it is that we keep on searching, never stopping, until we find what we’re looking for.

So, I continue to take my friend’s advice, I bite the side of my cheek, and I swipe right.

Because, at the end of the day, I’m an addict — and, really, what’s one more cup of coffee?

 

 

 

Own Your Shit

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We’re all a little bit shitty. Right? Right?

Most of us, deep down, somewhere in our gut, feels that there’s something wrong with us. It’s a human thing. It’s unavoidable. And, frankly, our secret stash of flaws can keep us feeling pretty uncomfortable. Because, that hidden cache of crap, when we pick it apart, piece by piece, is bound to reveal — we’re not perfect. A shocker — I know.

In becoming visible, we allow ourselves the freedom to just be. But, the other side of that coin involves the rest of humanity. Maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but, when you make yourself visible — other people see you too. So, be careful where you leave your crap.

You may find your Visibility liberating. Frightening. Exhilarating. Freeing. But, whatever you feel about being seen, however you relate to your own display of imperfection — you have to know that other people are involved. And, your liberation, fear, exhilaration, and freedom might look very different through someone else’s eyes.

From the perspective of an addict/alcoholic, that Visibility — the kind that puts you on display — is the stuff of nightmares. For people who view themselves as fundamentally flawed, it’s one thing to accept yourself — it’s an entirely different feeling to to have others see your imperfections. Most of us have spent years carefully covering our shit so expertly, no one had to be nervous when walking around us. In fact, half the time we didn’t even know what we’d hidden, or where. As we grow and change in sobriety, we tend to uncover these little, hidden imperfections. And then, we work hard to embrace ourselves, despite them. But, the idea of asking another person to accept us, is completely unfathomable. They might not see our shit — but, secretly, we know that they should be watching their step.

This month, I’ve given Visibility a great deal of thought. I’ve enjoyed making room within myself for all the things I am — the good, the bad, and the shitty. I’ve ditched a ton of my baggage, even some of the crap that’s left me feeling uneasy for a lifetime. Giving myself room to be flawed has made me happier. — And, really, that’s the important thing — getting comfortable with yourself, no matter how your insides feel. But, I’m finding that it’s the outward display, the public Visibility, where I’m continually running into trouble.

When you feel good inside, despite your inherent flaws, you want others to feel good about you too. And, when you find some peace in becoming yourself, you naturally want others to accept this person that you’ve worked so hard to flesh out. But, when becoming visible, you have to be ready to accept that no one is going to see you that way that you see yourself. And, sometimes people are going to step in your shit.

As a self-aware person, I have a pretty good idea about who digs me and who doesn’t. And, usually the people who don’t get my vibe, aren’t people I’m drawn to anyway. But, it’s the people who know you, love you, care about you — those people can be your toughest audience. They’ve seen you at your worst (and likely, your best) and they can be pretty uncomfortable around the new, visible you. We all get used to the people in our lives and how they appear. We assign them roles. And, when one person deviates — it’s unsettling.

Here’s the thing: We have to deviate anyway. People adjust to the person you put out there. They will learn to step around your shit. And, more often than not, the people who know you best are going to be the last ones to get on board with the updates you’re making. It doesn’t make them bad people, and it doesn’t make you flawed. Visibility is about big change. Even when we’re just starting to uncover the things we used to kick to the curb, we’re making those parts of ourselves known — we’re changing. And, change makes everyone uncomfortable.

Keep in mind, that while you were trying to convince yourself that you were something other than you are, you were also trying to get everyone else on board with you, and they probably bought into your shit as much as you did! So, as you make yourself visible, you’re also rewriting the story that you’ve been working hard to sell others. Be patient with their transition, but, don’t allow their discomfort to take you off your track. In this kind of learning curve, forever and for always, honesty is the best policy. — Own your shit.

The other thing is — you have to be willing to stand your ground. You’re visible now. So, walk tall. Don’t be derailed by someone else’s outdated version of you. If you’ve done the hard work of becoming visible to yourself, you owe it to yourself to be confident in your convictions — even when others might try to take you down a peg.

I’ve changed my mind about so many things, so many times — I’m sure I seem aloof and crazy to most of the people that have been solid structures in my life. And, I’m sure that it’s frustrating to some of them, but, what I have to remind myself of every day is — no one is more frustrated with my own growing pains than I am. In becoming visible, I am finding it easier and easier to own that frustration. It’s your story, not anyone else’s. And, when you write your own story, the lessons that are born from your mistakes are far more poignant — the successes, far more worthy of celebration.

Allow yourself to be seen — to change — and don’t worry so much about how it looks (or smells) out there.

Not a-one of us is without flaws. We’ve all got our shit. The key that unlocks the kingdom is letting everyone see your shit, yourself included. — If you’re committing to being visible, you simply can’t avoid your own shit. And, here’s a newsflash — no one else can avoid theirs, either.

Rule of thumb: Clean up your messes as best you can. And, when walking with others — remind them to watch their step.

 

 

 

The Red Room

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I spent my lunch break in the self-help section at Powell’s City of Books.

And, I know. It’s bad. But, it’s how I roll when I’m in a rut.

In sobriety, I’ve learned pain is predictable. I know when it’s coming. And, I know what to expect. There are levels of rut. In 12-Step, when you’re still sweating alcohol and amphetamines, they tell you, “It will always be peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys.” — It’s mostly valleys.

So, back to the self-help section. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up there. I know I started in the Red Room — the travel writing section. I was reading David W. McFadden’s An Innocent In Ireland. It was really good, too. I was totally planning on buying it.

But, I was standing there next to this intellectual-type-guy with horn-rimmed glasses. He was paging through some book on Greece, and I found myself getting pissed off. Like, really pissed off. And, I had no reason to hate this guy. Absolutely. None. But, I absolutely did. He was breathing too loudly and he was turning the pages too recklessly. One moment, I’m in this pub in Ireland, and the next, I’m about to lose my shit — thinking, “Screw this fuckin’ guy, and, screw Mykonos!” At that point, I just couldn’t take it any longer. McFadden went back on the shelf. I’d come back for him later.

Next thing I knew, I was two rooms over — in the thick of it — Self-Help: General. I’m standing there reading Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. And, fuuuuuuuucccckkk. It’s good. It’s Mykonos beaches good.

I’m on page twenty. And, I seriously I have to get back to work. But, with those twenty pages under my belt, I’m walking out of the store, then onto Eleventh Avenue, then up Flanders Street and — I’ve totally bought into it — Goddammit! — I CAN heal my life!

I can see it. This hysteria. It’s just the rut. A big, long valley. It’s the same place where I always get stuck. Post-break-up and pre-break-through. And, when I’m here — I read a self-help book. And, it’s bad. It’s awful. It’s a waste of ink and trees. And, as I’m reading it, I’m thinking, “God, I hate myself.” Because, I kinda do. — That’s how you end up in the self-help section.

But, then, it happens. — I help myself.

The thing is, there comes a point where we completely detach. Someone has to talk us into changing. And yes, sometimes it ends up being a hack who’s spiritual abundance is superseded by monetary gain. But, sometimes, hacks can make good points. I should know.

So, I do the rut-thing. I’m in bed, with the blinds closed, for days. I watch terrible rom-coms until I start to smell and the cat begins to pity me. Eventually, I convince myself to shower and take a walk. And, that’s when it happens.

I get back to dreaming. The sun kisses my vampire skin. I see the hot-pink flowers that don’t exist on the East Coast. There’s a calico cat rolling in a patch of long grass by the hippie-guy’s house. And — I’m here and I’m alive and I can change.

And, that’s how it happens.

Go to the Red Room. Meet McFadden for a pint. Escape the horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing- Grecian-jerk. Lose your place in time and space. And, return to consciousness with Louise Hay.

Twenty pages later. — No, I haven’t healed my life. But, I’ve helped myself.

And, that’s the hardest part. Helping your heart. Convincing yourself that you’re close.

That it’s coming. — A peak. — Change.

 

Reunion

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In my childhood bedroom, I sit cross-legged and allow myself to feel old.

It’s been years since I’ve seen this place. Everyone looks a little bit different. The landscape here has changed just enough to make things seem otherworldly. Like, I’ve returned to some alternate universe to find a different version of everyone I left behind years ago.

What has happened here? And, why is everyone getting married?

It’s my family reunion. I get a funny feeling that I can’t shake. I stand in strangely familiar surroundings — an observer and an alien. My awkwardness, performed in a nuanced fashion, is easy to disguise. Once, I was happily impaired as swarms of relatives buzzed around me — a host of inquisitive flies. Today, each encounter is centered. I see a different version of myself reflected in every set of eyes I look into — like watching an old VHS tape.

While standing in line for salad, I wonder if the only thing I have in common with these people is blood. I refill my red Solo cup with raspberry-lime seltzer right beside the keg where my relatives line up for the good stuff. Lager foam spills over the top of their cups and they push off the excess with their index fingers. They all ask me how life is treating me out West, and then, turn back to the keg without listening to my answer. I remember how easy drunken pleasantries were, I used to make them myself, between sips of frothy vodka sours. Maybe it’s me who’s rude these days, but, I’m less concerned with hurt feelings than I’ve been in years past.

The truth is, back West — it’s all unraveled. But here, in front of the macaroni salad — it’s whatever you’d like to hear.

My cousins pull me onto the dance floor at the bar where everyone has headed after a long day of family togetherness. They all do the twist, raising their arms up, cocktails spilling over the sides of their clear plastic cups onto the dance floor. I jostle my hips, stiffly, from side to side. This isn’t any fun sober.

In another universe, drunken dancing would have been the highlight of my evening. Tonight, I just want to go home. I tell my cousins I’m too tired, because I am, and I leave, alone.

I walk home on a dark country road. Another super moon dangles in the sky like a giant light bulb. The road, that’s usually pitch black at this hour, glows a hazy blue. The trees are lower to the ground here than they are in Oregon and the shadow levels us — there is something comforting in the congruence of our size. For a just a moment, we are all perfectly rooted in the Earth.

As I walk up the driveway to my house, I replay the day: As if it were choreographed, a parade of bathing suits, cut-off jeans, and summer dresses weave in and out of mismatched wooden chairs with peeling paint. My grandmother’s voice — caught in her throat at the sight of us all together. Tiny babies. Weddings planned and divorces finalized. Not-so-tiny-babies. Childhood brethren and sworn mortal enemies. It’s more drama than a good soap opera. Characters that move about wildly, without predictable trajectories. I stop to remind myself — everyone’s family is crazy.

Everything looks different through a steady lens. And, I feel it — an era has ended. Time is moving at different speeds. But, eventually — inevitably — we will all meet again. We will stand at the keg, whether we’re drinking from it or not. We will ask each other how things are going, only to realize — we never really cared to know the answer.

Stay saucy,

Sarah

The Play’s The Thing

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I was an awkward kid.

Chubby, unpopular, and supremely geeky – I was a lone wolf – with terrible glasses. And, while I was painfully aware of this reality, I was also accepting of the fact that there wasn’t much I could do to change it. My prep school was a popularity contest I would never win. So, I lived for the weekends. I’d sit at home, alone, watching Molly Ringwald movies, aspiring to her unsurpassed level of chic-geekdom — one I would never achieve.

In the 7th grade, I thought I’d made my big break. I got one of the lead singing roles in the school play. When I saw my name posted at the top of the cast list, it set off firecrackers in my soul. Behind me, the popular girls were huddled up, whispering and laughing. But, for the first time, I didn’t care that they were making fun of me. I was going to be a star.

We rehearsed for weeks on end. I sang and sang and sang. Kids who’d never given me the time of day before were coming up to me and telling me I had a great set of pipes. My fat-kid heart didn’t know what to do with all the attention. So, I just kept singing. It was enough. It had to be. It was my only ace in the hole.

The night of the big show, I walked out on stage. A blue-tinted follow spot guided my chubby ass to center stage. I saw my classmates in the audience, 100 blinking hyena-eyes in the dark. I felt my heart, near explosion, clattering against my ribs. The music played. I sang. Everyone clapped. And, in that moment — the applause, the hot lights, the rustle of paper in the orchestra pit — I was enough.

After the show my parents gave me hugs and flowers in the lobby. Then, like nothing had happened, we drove home, my bouquet laid neatly across my lap. The popular girls went out to a diner together for ice cream sundaes. I was home alone again with Molly Ringwald. The play was over. My star, extinguished.

My search for enough started long ago. No matter where or who I’ve been, I’ve never felt fully sufficient. I’ve always looked to improve in some way. Do more. Give more. Be more. And yes, eventually, drink more. I did all this with the idea it would make me better in some way. Every relationship, job, or activity I get involved with — I always wonder if, this time, I will be enough.

I dream I will find this perfect place of enough-ness where I can do no wrong. It hasn’t happened yet, and I’ll tell you why — I am already enough.

No one told me on the night of the play, but, I would learn later: Ice cream sundaes with mean girls who made me feel like a worthless bug every day of my life– was not the prize. The prize was that I stood up on that stage and sang. I gave away my goods. Fearlessly. I opened my big-geek-mouth and I sang for those snickering bitches. No one paid me. No one offered me friendship. At best, I got a compliment or two from a few moms in the lobby. I sang because it made me feel like I existed. That spotlight, it lit me up. Chubby. Little. Me.

In times of frustration, when I throw up my hands and say “I’ve had enough!”, I return to my own, true self. In my surrender, I become enough. Suffering is the conduit that brings me to my authenticity. On that stage, I stood judged, but, I stood tall — chub and all — authentically me.

Enough doesn’t look one way. Enough is its own entity. We can be geek priestesses and pop stars simultaneously. One does not diminish the other, and, both are sufficient. Enough is not a quantitative word — nor is it qualitative. Enough accepts what is.

So, walk to center stage and sing, Goddammit. Sing your existence. Sing your enough-ness.

The audience — doesn’t matter. The play’s the thing.

Stay saucy,

Sarah

 

 

A Drive To The Moon

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If someone offers you a ride to the moon — get in.

Saturday, before my adventures as an astronaut, I’d resigned myself to a night alone. Book in hand, cat sprawled on the floor by my side — it had all the makings of a quiet and humble evening. But, as I lay there, turning pages, a rowdy-Saturday-night-crowd walked past my window. All on their way to the pub around the corner, I’m sure. Their voices were pitched high, you could hear their shared excitement. They held back their laughter, only to have it explode on the corner and echo back off the walls of my living room. It made my heart ache.

I miss that. That camaraderie. That feeling of not-knowing where the night is going to go — but, knowing it’s going to be good. I so seldom feel that anymore. It makes me feel old — expired.  Sometimes I find myself thinking that sobriety has stolen my flare for living. Muted my spirit. I miss those wild days where I didn’t care about what could happen next, and drunk or not — I felt like I lived in every moment.

As the pub-goer’s voices disappeared around the corner, my phone rang. A friend of mine was headed to the Columbia River Gorge to gaze at the super moon through his fancy telescope. He asked me if I wanted to join his group. My first thought was, of course, to say “No.” I looked down at my legs listlessly — I sported my hot-pink, cat-print pajamas. I asked myself: Is this it? Am I really in for the night?

And, though I could have fallen asleep in the next half hour and told myself on Sunday morning that I hadn’t missed a thing — I heard my old, wild voice say:

Sarah — Get up. Walk out that door. GO TO THE MOON. (And, for fuck’s sake — lose the cat pajamas.)

And so, I went, sans pajamas. My friends and I drove into a rare, hot, Portland night. The car’s AC gave me goosebumps. We didn’t have to worry about a thing — not even each other. Easy. It felt like breathing a sigh I’d been holding onto for years. It felt like — letting go. My insides shook with unexpected happiness I’d forgotten I could feel. My laughter bounced off the glass windows as we flew down Highway 84 — All for the sake of staring out into the dark.

We arrived at the Vista House, which peers into the mouth of the great Columbia River Gorge. As we parked, tourists howled at the moon. In the dark, the red, blinking lights of the Bonneville dam sent me cryptic messages. I felt like Gatsby, untethered. For just a moment, I was free. My bangs — blown loose from their bobby pin.

I lay on the steps of the lookout point, my grey hoodie pressed to the cement. The giant moon peered into the depths of me with his golden eye. And, there, I found myself entirely present. I was a cluster of molecules in a small gust of cool, river air. I was a beat in the rhythm of the dam’s pulsing-red-lights. I was another vibration in the hum of voices behind me — struggling to adjust the telescope.

I’m here.

Under this royal blue blanket of Oregon sky, dotted with stars, I am reminded what it is to be alive. Unplanned and wild. I am as lit up as the moon himself. I am. Here, it is both dark and bright. Empty and full. Like Baba Ram Dass says — to be present is to feel everything and nothing at once — it’s all happening.

This is my trip. Man.

The moon moves across the telescope’s lens. I see him. He sees me.

And, the next moment — He’s gone.

 

Stay saucy,

Sarah