The Best Few Words.

A few years ago I was pining over a guy who hardly cared back, almost comically so.  I’d dish up a chance for him to make a move;  he’d be suddenly absent/ignorant/oblivious/unavailable.   In the words of Chandler Bing, could he BE less interested? Because try as I might to set him up, this guy never said anything,  ANYTHING that could be construed for interest.  Oh, it was unrequited like at its finest. And yet I pined.

That is, until one momentous day when everything changed.

That was the day when he saw me and uttered four words that would be forever burned in my brain until the end of memory:

“I like the ponytail.”

I.

Like.

The.

Ponytail.

Those 4 words were the most generous words I think I ever heard from him.  Which means that precisely 98% of all males, including but not limited to, the Trader Joe’s checkout guy, the guy behind the post office counter, and hell, even the police officer pulling me over for speeding had better things to say.

It was a weird time, OK?

But none of that’s the point.  This is not about how to tell when a guy’s not interested, though conveniently, it taught me that.  More importantly, it taught me the value of listening.  Because I realized that day, that these 4 words were without a doubt, no contest, the very best words I’d heard that day.  They simply won the day.

And I couldn’t help but wonder —

how many other times had I let momentous words simply sift in one ear and out the other, their impact and delight lost on me because I’d simply moved on to the next thing to thing to thing, or maybe was only half listening in the first place.

So I’ve been collecting a few of those best few words of the day so I could look back and remember whatever it was that was so striking at the time.

But for now, let me tell you what I know you’ve been waiting to hear.

I like your ponytail, too. 🙂

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Portland Week 1: Sick, Herbs and Great Expectations

Hey!! It’s been about a week since I arrived in Portland out of the month(ish) and a few of you have asked how the time’s been.  I tend not to know how to answer succinctly.  So instead, some Highs and Lows.

High: The Rizzio family (Mal, Ian + pets.) Their hospitality has meant the world. You know when you grow up and appreciate how cool your relatives are and want to be real friends with them? That.

High: 30 Rocky Road.  Exactly like it sounds.  When the Rizzios and me combine Tina Fey + Tillamook RR ice cream in the spirit of the best Wheel of Fortune category, Before and After.

Low: The 2 minutes I thought I lost my Stumptown tumbler at Tasty & Alder.  (It was in my car.)

High: Crossed off two bucket list items by checking out a Meetup / going to an Open IDEO session. Which meant drinking beer and hearing about some interesting design marathons about to kick off in Portland:

  • Creative ideas for Portland’s Transitional Foster Youth: how and where Portland can develop/support housing for teens aging out of the foster system in a way that’s developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed and connected to the community.
  • El Pasaporte Project – A social enterprise aimed at stimulating patronage of local immigrant-owned businesses through a food-based passport. The pilot of El Pasaporte Project will launch this fall with the release of El Pasaporte para el Mercado, featuring the businesses of the Portland Mercado. Come learn how to support the pilot and make it come to life in SE Portland and beyond.

High: Portland friends I’ve spent time with already…Ashley, Oliver, Rachel, Jeff (and G), Dom, Brianne, Grandma, Mel and Dave, Mal and Ian (again). Exploring different parts of the city through your eyes has been the most fun this week by far. Thanks for such a warm welcome.

High: Herbs. Specifically, Rosemary Raspberry donuts from Blue Star and Thyme biscuits from Maplewood. Herbs really steal the show here. It’s Portland, what do you expect?

Low: Getting lost nonstop.  With how many freeways there are in LA,  AND the fact that a river slices through the city, I figured Portland geography would be easy to pick up.  False. No direction is as it seems.  Consider the freeway signs “99 E South” and “99 W North”. WHICH DIRECTION ARE YOU? (Oh, there are two 99 freeways, just one on the East side of the river and one on the West side.  Now I get it, but isn’t that still weird?)

High: Red lights.  Thank God for red lights so you have a few seconds to figure out where you should have turned and which lane you should have been in to avoid going over yet another bridge unnecessarily….oh too late, you’re on the bridge and Google Maps is adding another 6 minutes to your arrival. But on the plus side:

High: Even when driving over the wrong bridge yet again, at least it’s a pretty nice view.

High: Going out with my aunt and uncle and being introduced as Dorothy’s daughter.  In LA, people know my mom through me and never the other way around – like other transplants, I’m a standalone figure without roots anyone knows.

High: When I suddenly felt sick on a conference call and muted myself, opened my car door and got sick out the door of my car. All while on mute, so no one even knew.  Man did I feel like a badass.

Low: But also, getting sick out the door of my car.

Low: Loneliness and too-high expectations.  These came as a big surprise this week.  I figured since I know a Portland contingent and since I did the whole long-term trip to NYC a few years back, this trip would be even easier.  I’d just seamlessly transition to Portland life, one of my fave people here would take me under the wing and show me around so I’d have a go-to.  I’d frolic the city like I did New York and all would be just great.

The past week felt a little more like starting high school trying to find both your friends and your math class at the same time. I forgot how readily I’m surrounded by familiar people and places in LA.  Living, schooling, working in a place for a decade plus will do that to you. I expected New York to be a shakeup.  But I expected Portland to feel like a second home.  Not so much, not yet.

Slowly I’ll get my bearings and figure out where that metaphorical math class is. Maybe Week 2…

So how about you and your week? What’s going on in your life?  Hit me up because I definitely miss you. 

And as a guy told me on the Tillikum Crossing bridge today: “sometimes you gotta stop the run and just appreciate.”

❤ Megan

 


 

Sellwood Public House: Hungy

Once I arrived in Portland I knew the smartest thing to do would be getting a carwash but the best thing to do would be getting a beer. I Google mapped “Sellwood Public House” which I thought to be a bar though I can’t recall ever going there or even anyone ever mentioning it.  Chalk it up to Spidey sense or one of those times you guess a thing and you’re not sure if you’re making up the thing or it’s real.

img_6916.png

Fortunately, Sellwood Public House is indeed real. But once I’m inside I remember how uncomfortable I feel in bars alone.  Not because I’m concerned about safety. I’m concerned about awkwardness.

It’s that feeling when you don’t know where to put your hands, except it’s more like you don’t know where to put yourself.  In bars I get all mushmouthed and forget anything I know about alcohol and social interaction and just stand there timidly waiting to be acknowledged yet not wanting to be acknowledged, and wishing this whole thing was automated somehow or that I better knew how to function in such settings.  Someday I will get quite good at this whole thing.
I have to admit standing there in discomfort at the bar was an unexpected reminder that I am on my own in this city I’d just arrived in, which sat weirdly with me.  Granted, I do all sorts of things on my own, and most of the time, I love it. There’s so much time and space to just be, contemplate your life and existence and surroundings.  Feels great. But there’s feel-good-alone and feel-weird-alone, and this moment’s the latter.

I’m trying to build a tolerance for the feel-weird-alone moments because they’re inevitable — and important. They lead you somewhere and teach you something you can’t access when you cut the process short. Maybe that’s part of what this trip to Oregon will be.  Lots of feel-weird-alone moments that develop into something unexpectedly good.

To fill the space I write out my last thank-you note for my friends who hosted me en route to Portland.  Then scroll through social media before admitting it’s just my tool for avoidance right now.

So I pull out a notebook and start jotting down notes on the trip so far:

9/3/2018

Made it Portland! Now what.

My mind goes where it seems to go often lately in solo moments like this: the experience of being single again.

I was in a pretty great relationship with a wonderful guy til a couple months back when we amicably parted.  And I know it was good for us both, but – rationality aside, the sadness of loss still ebbs and flows.

I don’t like to admit it, but I miss being in a relationship. This last one had so much good to it, which makes me excited for what’s next. But the thing I am slowly learning/is being beaten into me by nothing less than force is that relationships don’t seem to work on-demand. At least, maybe not the good ones.

Turns out it takes rather aggravating things like time and patience which it appears are, respectively, not in my control and not my strong suit.  🙂  I keep hearing the thing to do in this season is relax and chill out. But I haven’t done a great job listening. Once I start really caring about or wanting something all semblance of chill seems to fly out the window. Somewhere deep down I know that life is long and things have a way of working themselves out. But on an average day, it’s easy to ignore that and hustle and hurry instead, impatient and hungry for what’s next.

I’m a little lost in thought at Sellwood Public House when a wiry man about 45ish  plops down in the seat across my table.  He’s got a short salt and pepper beard, khaki shirt covered in artistically rendered trout. His words seem slurred but I can’t tell if maybe his normal voice just sounds a little crazy. It’s possible he’s drunk, but I don’t want to assume.

“This is the best table in the whole place, right here.  You know that? You know that. Right here, by the window.  You know that, you see how nice the light is, right?  You know that, you’re writing right here in the light.  It’s my favorite seat in the entire place.” He bangs his hand on the table for emphasis at “entire place.”

I say nothing, eyeing him cautiously with the quick assessment one does with strangers talking to them unexpectedly: 1) Am I in danger? 2) Am I uncomfortable enough to leave?

He eyes my open notebook, pen in hand resting on the page.

“You know what? You’re smart. That’s a weird compliment but do you know what I mean? You’re smart.  You found the best seat in this place and you’re writing in the sunlight here.  I like it.”

This of course, I have to respond to, smiling. “Wow, thanks. That’s nice of you.  It’s a good spot, huh? You can see out to the street and everything.”

“Are you a writer? What are you writing?”

“Just some thoughts really. That’s about it.”

“You heard of Paul Auster? I love his writing.  He wrote, uh….ah I don’t remember what it is.  I’m not that smart.”

I write Paul Auster in my notebook. “I haven’t heard of him but I’ll keep that in mind –  maybe if I make it to Powell’s I’ll find something of his.”

“Timbuktu. That’s what he wrote, Timbuktu.  I love that book. You’d like it, too, it’s a great one.  Paul Auster.  Paul A-s-u-t-e-r.  Remember that. ”

He pivots suddenly, and buries his face in his hands for a moment. “My pops died not too long ago.” He was 87.”  (He thumps his chest once).  “87! I’m sorry I’m crying.  It’s just that, I’m his oldest friend.  What my papa could tell me, ain’t no one else could tell me.  You know?  He had the words to tell me things no one else could.  Yeah, it’s a bitch.  The best people in your life go away.”

This hits a nerve for some reason and now I start tearing up a little, too. He goes on though:

“You know, I was a dog in a past life.  You like dogs?”

I sniffle and can’t help but chuckle at this latest turn. “Yeah, dogs are OK.”

“Aww!” he proclaims with a twinkle in his eye. “You’ve never had a good dog then!” Grinning and pleased with his punchline, he juts his hand to the center of our table for a firstbump, to which I oblige.

“But that’s the most important thing in life, though:  people who can give you love.  The best thing you can do for anyone is give them love.” (He says this seriously, as if to make sure he’s heard.)  “Without obligation.  Love is to nurture another without obligation.  Do you know what I’m saying?”

I’m sniffling again and slowly nod…sure. Kind of.  Without obligation is a pretty tall order, right?

“Do you really know what I’m saying?”

“I think so.”

He watches me jot something down in the notebook and grins wildly: “Why you doing that?” he asks, gesturing toward my scribbles. “You’re writing things down, that’s smart.  You’re ripping it up!”

I’m not sure how to answer why – why does it seem like these words are worth keeping?

“I don’t know, I’m just…kind of…hungry I guess.”

He smiles wider, eyes twinklier: “You know what I say instead of hungry? Hungy!! It’s just slightly shy of hungry.  Hungy: You kind of want food. And you kind of want love. Hungy!!

I look up from my notebook to lock eyes with his.

Before I can comment he goes on, “You come here before?!”

“First time I think.”

“And you found the best spot! Best table ever.  I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself.  But I’m not very smart. And you’re here ripping it up! You know what? ‘The beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.’ That’s Plato.”

“See, that sounds pretty smart” I offer.

“The most important thing in life: express yourself.  Extend yourself.  Give love.  If you’re going to love someone, give your love to that dude…or that gal…without obligation.”

A beat or two passes, and I try to let the words sit in the air, knowing he’s on to something.  Finally I respond: “that’s pretty powerful.”

“Pretty powerful, yes. Pretty f*cking powerful.  I know, I’m aware.  You’re a writer.  I dig that, dude. What’s your name?”

“Megan”, I offer, hand extended.

“Jeffrey” he returns.  We shake, and a few more beats pass in the silence.

“Jeffrey, thank you,” I say, “I think it’s time for me to take a walk. You enjoy the table.”

And I walk out of the bar holding back tears I didn’t know lay beneath the surface, and wondering what else there is to learn here.

Best Quatrains Per Song from Ingrid Michaelson’s Be O.K. Album*

Because road trips mean good music and time for contemplation.

(Challenging opinions accepted.)

Be OK:

Open me up and you will see,
I’m a gallery of broken hearts.
I’m beyond repair let me be,
and give me back my broken parts.

Giving Up:

‘Cause I am giving up on making passes and
I am giving up on half empty glasses and
I am giving up on greener grasses
I am giving up

The Chain:

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take, the chain from off the door.

Lady in Spain:

I am in love with a boy
Manufactured to destroy
So I shall unravel my love
Like an old red woolen glove

Keep Breathing:

I want to change the world,
Instead I sleep.
I want to believe
in something more than you and me.

Oh What a Day:

Oh what a way that we die
Plenty of tears were supplied
My eyes are wrung out and dry as a bone
And I taste much better alone

The Way I Am:

Because I love you more than
I could ever promise
And you
Take me the way I am

You and I: (Best lines of this song but unfortunately not a quatrain:)

So I will help you read those books
If you will soothe my worried looks
And we will put our lonesome on the shelf.

Now the question is, which one of these is the BEST 4 lines of the entire album?

I’d submit the following.  And you?

‘Cause I am giving up on making passes and
I am giving up on half empty glasses and
I am giving up on greener grasses
I am giving up

Clever, timeless, simple, hopeful.  Winner in my book.

 

XO from the road,

Megan

 

*Original songs only.  (Sorry, Somewhere Over the Rainbow)

4 August birthdays and Robert Frost


I knew I couldn’t leave until at least August 28. 

August is the pinnacle month in my closest  Southern California friends’ lives. When Tiffany and Lauren and Jen celebrate their birthdays, or in Lauren’s case, their daughters’ birthdays.  No one would have faulted me for leaving, because they’re used to it, but I’ve done so much going lately and they practically keep me alive, so. I was always going to stay.

The last time I left for long was 2015 to New York, and all three of them were in the heart and thick of it, their words and presence so vivid I’m surprised it was some 1,000 days ago since it may as well be 30. 

I remember the Union dinner with Jen and Lauren, the gift ring with Hebrew etching and the equally Hebraic notion that nothing is wasted, which we say to this day and is deep-rooted enough that we’ll say it into our 80s since we’ll surely be friends and we’ll know it all the more to be true.

I remember when Tiff brought TJ’s over with Heather the night before NYC, and thanking God for friends and necklaces.  We’ve had 100 TJ’s nights since and we’ll do that into our 80s as well and hopefully still make necklaces, too.

I left Southern California in 2015 to disrupt my life and patterns, find a new place to wander, be with my family and because I was afraid to leave, which meant I really ought to.  

1,000 days later and none of that’s changed. 

Just this time it’s Portland. I guess it’s more than just a visit. It’s a month to see if I should live there.

____________

When college had nearly wrapped up I figured I’d move back “home” and Portland seemed as great a place as any. Still NW, but not the same stomping grounds of adolescence. I didn’t have much plan but I figured that was about right.

 In April  I went to a campus recruiting event, and my Econ prof introduced me to my future boss and all of a sudden I had a job and all of a sudden I had a career and all of a sudden a decade had passed.  Here I am, same wonderful little corner of the San Gabriel Valley as the start of my California life all those years back. 

More and more I ask  why. Not because I’m unhappy. Because I might be just walking along, unconscious. 

____________
There’s this great poem you definitely know, with this great line I just can’t shake.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.



I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

My sixth grade teacher had us memorize this poem and now and then these lines jolt my consciousness with an electrical current of resonance.
But knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back

Because, didn’t Frost nail it?

Isn’t this so what life’s like –  a choice leads us on to the next, and all of a sudden we find ourselves so far down one road we may not ever have the chance to go back and take the other. 

It’s not that we don’t have the chance to take the other road. It’s just that the way life goes, we probably won’t. 

_________

It occurs to me more and more that life in the Northwest is my Road Not Taken. I’m not sure yet what I will do with that. 

Ten years ago I took the other road, as just as fair – a job made it perhaps the better claim –  although as for for all my prospects there, both paths were really about the same.So I kept the first for another day. Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I’m hoping to find if I ought to come back.

(We’ll see if this trip makes a difference.)

A Solid 4 to 6ish.

I remember crossing a street in Harlem a couple years back while reading a text (not the wisest multitasking) from a guy I’d just met.  He was cool.

Well, he was more than cool.  He was cool.  Actually, I wrote about him here.

So he sends this note along the lines of, “I can’t wait to see you again.”

And reflexively, I say to myself, God, you’re such a liar.

Some would say this response is a bit sad.  But to me, it was data-driven (though I can’t produce this data I ASSURE you it exists, somewhere) because at that point in life, my base assumption was that when I meet people, I’ll be met with solid neutrality bordering on indifference.

Now I’d be hesitant to share this since I also historically assumed that everyone else has a flawless and fully-formed sense of self-esteem that never waivers, and they float through life on clouds of assurance basking in the sunny rays of self-confidence.But it would seem this is not always the case. I’ve come to learn there are precious few of you out there who are entirely self-assured, and the rest of us seem to fall a little further left on the spectrum.

If you can relate to that expectation that those you meet will be solidly neutral, perhaps you also agree this is not an inherently sad belief.  We don’t necessarily think they’ll hate or even dislike us.  We just might wonder “why would they particularly like me?” See the difference? Very nuanced.

For most of life, (and let’s be honest, often still in present day) I assumed there was a Likability scale in which I was a consistent 4 to 6ish for everyone I encountered.  Somewhere between Meh and Alright. That assumption seemingly worked out okay, except it caused two key challenges. 

First, when one tends to assume they really aren’t too likable  you tend to engage with people assuming they don’t really want TOO much to do with you.  In your interpersonal relationships, you tread lightly (on some days, possibly avoid altogether) because you already know how you’ll register with them. You’ll be OK at best. You don’t deem this sad, you deem this fact.

Second, when people are more than indifferent towards you, it can be entirely discombobulating.  They’ve just shot your whole scoring system.  They start treating you like you are more than Meh to Alright, they may even act as if you’re Funny or damnit, even Enjoyable.  The might even Particularly Like You as a Person. In which case, you’re in trouble, as I can guarantee you won’t know how to handle that. Reactions could range from Puzzlement, Doubt/Skepticism, or Outrage/Hostility. (This one is rare, and for me it’s typically reserved for eligible men, especially ones I’ve deemed out of my league.  Thoughts may include the benign “this positivity seems premature” to “HOW DARE HE say something NICE when HE is CLEARLY trying to MANIPULATE me with his BED of LIES.”)

And sure, every so often, the skepticism over someone’s intent could be warranted.  We’re not naive. But perhaps the de facto assumption should be challenged?

See, because let’s say you can get past your disbelief that some people could think you’re more than OK.  At that point, a very interesting and fortunate thing happens – in friendships, in relationships, wherever. You start letting the guard down just a bit, and instead of say, hiding/avoiding/ignoring, you maybe reach out just a little.  Just a little.  Just to see what it’s like to come out of your shell for a moment. Instead of hanging back in feigned indifference (read: Fear) you might get to know people you always assumed were MUCH too (insert positive adjective) for you.

And maybe with practice, you might even be the one to reach out to someone first…before you know for certain you’re in the Likability clear.  Maybe you’re willing to put yourself out there.  To say or show, “I like you” first.  Maybe you even start inviting others out of their shell.

Who knows what you do with that newfound freedom.

The point is…it’s yours and you get to find out.

When you start operating from an assumption that people might actually like you, I’d venture that 99% of the time you don’t get your hand slapped by the universe for daring to rise above your station.  Which come to think of it, does make some sense:

It was quite possibly you who decided what your station even was in the first place.

 

 

 

Fear and Pretense in Los Angeles

Just as we were pulling up to LAX today, I asked my Lyft driver how he met his long-time wife from El Salvador, who’d weaved in and out of his stories the past 45 minutes we’d been in the car.

“It was the funniest thing.  We had both just gotten out of long relationships, and we were just on the same page, completely honest about all the mistakes we’d made: ‘here are the dumb things I did, here’s where I messed up’ – just no pretense whatsoever. I’m telling you, it was so refreshing. Made me wonder why all first dates couldn’t be like that. A month later we moved in together and that year we were married. We were just so totally open from the beginning; there was nothing to lose.”


I remember sitting at the family dinner table a few years back when I was visiting home.  We’d gotten a set of Table Topics, those little cards in the clear acrylic box that pose random questions intended to stir up interesting conversations.

So someone grabbed a card and read aloud:  What is your greatest fear?

When it’s my turn I’m stymied by the fact that the truest answer I can give is most definitely going to be a downer and de facto, a conversation killer. It’s really kind of interesting that the question of one’s greatest fear is posed as a conversation starter in the first place.  How did the Table Topic people think this would play out? This has the ability to get real heavy, fast. So many possible things people could say if they wanted to be brutally honest.

I’m afraid I’m never going to make peace with my parents before they die.

I’m afraid I’m never going to be as happy as I was before my marriage ended.

I’m afraid my family only loves me because they have to. .

I’m afraid I’ll never be able to actually love someone.

I’m afraid I’ve become useless in my old age. 

I wonder if the Table Topics folks figured people would adhere to social norms and just not take it too deep? Or did they think that when people inevitably DO share something painful or difficult, it might actually be the start of a conversation that really mattered?

Let’s assume it’s the latter.

I figured if this Table Topic’s going to contrive conversation it may as well contrive something honest.

“My biggest fear is probably that there could be something deeply wrong with me on some level that makes me just not good enough somehow.  I know that sounds kind of intense, but…yeah.  That’s probably it.”

The words stayed in the air for two seconds or three before my brother offered his.

“I’m not exactly scared of that much but –

I do think it might be pretty tough to buy a house in a desirable area someday.”

We nodded in understanding at this, and for the time being, the topic was tabled.


Part of why I hadn’t stopped to write these past months is busyness, relationship, new job, yada yada yada.  Stuff like that.  Part of the hangup is eBay most of us get afraid of sometimes, the  fear of being exposed. You know. The fear that the more you let people in, the more risk that they won’t like what they see. 

Myriad sources lately have been suggesting that without vulnerability, though, without moving towards that fear of being known and rejected, there’s really not another way to love and be loved.  Social worker- researcher-writer , Brene Brown says vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, sure.  And it’s also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love.

Generally, I’d like to find joy, creativity, belonging, love — those sound like pretty nice things and I wouldn’t kick them out of bed, as it were. 

I have to imagine the same goes for you.

Sometime we really ought to just grab some coffee or a drink and talk about any of this for a second or two. It would be so useful and interesting to know what each other is actually working with. And you know as soon as it’s out there, it’s less powerful.  You’re just stating the facts at that point, and as Russ Reid (the guy) would say: the facts are friendly.  So sure, some days, I’m afraid I’m not good enough to be loved me that freaks me out for a while, then the fear subsides and we keep on going.  I have always assumed that other people are vastly more self-assured and would never feel like I do. But longer I go the more it appears this is not exactly the case. I’m hoping maybe to drop the pretense and live a little more like my Lyft driver and his wife, and the many others around making that daily choice to drop the pretense and just own their fears, imperfections, their whole self.  We’ll see where that gets us, right? 🙂

Xo,

Megan


 

 

 

Just when we have decided 

that we are a rock, we are an island-

comes the reminder, 

that we get by 

with a little help 

from our friends. 
Happy Interdependence Day.



little girl you’re in the middle [seat]

I really used to like writing here but I got all self-conscious and busy falling for someone so I put it on the shelf for quite a while.  I know that sounds dramatic, it’s just the shortest way to state the facts. 


The falling for someone part is pretty self-explanatory, the self-conscious part is not, but that’s for another time. For now, let’s ease back in with something far less significant.
Two weeks ago I had a middle seat on a 5 hour flight from Seattle to Boston.  I’m an avid window-seater (best sleeping opportunity) but this flight was booked particularly late. Expressed mathematically, 4pm Middle Seat > 7am Window Seat any day. Right?

But I have to admit, there’s one benefit the Middle Seat affords I’d never really noticed before.

It’s a prime opportunity to get up close and personal with random, interesting strangers at 30,000 feet.

Guy on my right is a 27ish year old graduate of Pepperdine.  We small talk just briefly and he explains his admission to an MBA program as a way to “improve his candidacy profile” for a consulting job. I refrain from commenting that with a phrase like that, he actually seems to know what he’s talking about. Or he’s been coached/brainwashed. Also possible.

He logs into the gogo wi-fi, and I attempt to as well, but cannot connect.  So he tries to help me.  Not so much because he wants to per se, but because I’m having trouble literally 18″ away from his face so he’d really have to ignore what’s happening or go out of his way to NOT  help me with it.  I feel a little sorry for his predicament as Nice Guy who Knows Tech Things, but gladly accept his IT support help nonetheless.

After he tries everything he can for 12-15 minutes (I start thinking we might be friends by now, after all our bonding small talk about wi-fi connection) he suggests I restart.  And then it works.  And then we go back to our lives for the next 4.5 hours.  (After the flight I run into him in the parking lot when I’m trying to catch a Lyft and on account of how helpful he was, I halfway think he’s going to offer me a ride 15 miles away to my Red Roof Inn in Saugus, Mass.  No, this does not happen. No, we are not actually friends, it’s been confirmed.)

Guy on the left, a 27ish programmer (I think, unless he did all that coding recreationally) with Bose headphones on the entire time.  I could hear the music ever so slightly emanating from his ears, and I kid you not, it’s My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion.

All I want is to start a conversation with him about this. Maybe I ask him, “Whatchya listening to?” to see if he’ll tell me the truth or feels a need to make up a cover story. That alone would be fascinating.  Does he feel a need to cover it up?

What I really wish to know is where this music’s coming from.  The first guess is the Titanic soundtrack.  That seems rather heavy-handed, plus a little foreboding given we’re about to take a passenger vessel across country.  Maybe this is a straight up Celine Dion album.  If so, his taste is surprising and admirable.  Perhaps a Spotify station or Pandora Playlist, and if so, WHAT pray tell is the seed song that algorithmically produces My Heart Will Go On this super ballad??

I didn’t ask any of these burning questions, so we missed out on what would have surely been a very non-awkward conversation with a guy who probably wanted to enjoy Celine in peace.

So I buried my head in my laptop, and became one of those people who actually works on the plane instead of sleeping, drinking or watching guilty pleasure television. It felt a rather seismic shift towards adulting, though hopefully not one that sticks.

We make it to Boston, gather carry-ons, no one says goodbye, we deplane, and that’s it. 

Middle seat’s not too shabby, hey? I’m alright avoiding it for awhile but when it strikes again…we’ll be ready.

Until next time, you are here in my heart, and —my heart will go on, and on. 

 ~Megan