neighbor

I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t. I’m still here.

Try #10 | My Neighbor

There are one thousand odes I could write to my dog. Each one will be long-winded and overly-sentimental and reduce me to tears from the first sentence to the last. Neighbor is what brings me joy and is also one of my greatest factors of stress. I wouldn’t trade him for the entire world.

So, instead of writing about how much I love Neighbor, because it is embarrassing how much I love a dog (…or is it?),  I will write about the top ten things Neighbor has taught me in his short, three-year run as my precious pup.

#10: It’s okay to play in the dirt. It washes off.

#9: Cuddling is special. Don’t waste it on just anybody.

#8: Drink lots of water.

#7: Eat your greens. Especially if you don’t feel well.

#6: Love is unconditional.

#5: Never feel guilty for sleeping all day if it’s what you need.

#4: Sometimes burying your favorite toy is the best way to make it last even longer.

#3: Squirrels are kind of mean and deserve to be chased.

#2: Trips to the park don’t last forever; make them last.

#1: And finally, start every morning out with a good stretch.

 

Samantha
newpeople

Try #9 | Meeting New People

Contrary to the impression I give off, I am not an extrovert. When it’s my responsibility to keep the energy up in a group, I put on my best smile, laugh loudly, and give everything I can to make sure everyone is having a great time, getting along, and enjoying themselves. That being said, when I am just another stranger in the crowd, I get shy. I become very aware of what other people think of me; I get awkward. Holy hell, do I get awkward. In a natural state, I am terrified of the spotlight, so how do I put on such a great show when asked to? I am a very, very good actress.

This is why I admire people who can strike up a conversation with a stranger as if it’s not scary at all. On Saturday night, sitting at The British Pub in Hood River, Ryan turns to the two dudes next to us and says, “How are you guys doing?” They are reclined in armchairs but immediately begin to converse – they are from Astoria. They are brothers. One works for an airline, the other is in the coast guard. The four of us become fast friends, we play darts until 1am, and we leave the bar hugging each other good bye, promising to text each other next time one of us is in Astoria or Portland.

I love meeting new people, I just don’t like to initiate the conversation. I don’t know if my penchant for interviewing people came from years of journalism school or if it was always there. Wherever it came from, it is incredibly satisfying to me to get to know every little detail of a stranger’s life. I start with the big picture – where are you from? What do you do? Where is your family from? How many siblings do you have? And then move into the smaller details – are you oldest or youngest? What annoys you? How often do to you call your mom? How long was your last relationship? Why did you break up?

I eat these details up like candy and formulate questions just as quickly and consistently as a conveyor belt. I won’t stop until I see that familiar look in their eyes… the wow-you-are-a-weirdly-inquisitive-person-who-asks-too-many-questions-why-are-you-so-interested look. At that point, I always end up apologizing, explaining that I am an interviewer at heart, and let them do the talking for a while.

This is precisely why I don’t date. It’s a revelation I had very recently when I noticed that 3-months always seemed to be my deadline with a new relationship. Digging deeper, I realized it takes me about 3-months to find out everything I want to know about a new person. The big picture. The little details. The favorite hang-out spots. The group of friends. The family. The childhood. Once I have a 360-view of what makes this person who they are, I bail. It’s a terrible habit. I value the details of the human more than the human themselves.

Maybe I’m forever destined to be a historian; the old lady they interview for a documentary on life in Portland in 2015. On the porch, surrounded by 40 dogs, rocking in the rocking chair, knitting my millionth washcloth, they will ask me, “How come you were never married?” and I’ll respond, “Because I ask too many questions.”

Samantha
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Try #8 | Special Occasions 

On a daily basis, there are a ton of things that I can get bogged down with. Bills in the mail, a dirty car I can’t find the time to clean, work stress, relationship stress, and so on. These are all “me” things. I spend hours and hours a day thinking about myself, concerned about the best decisions for my life. That’s why driving an hour to Hood River to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday is far more than just a fun occasion, it’s a chance to get out of town, to have an adventure, and a chance to focus all my energy on making someone else happy. Thanks for having a birthday, Noel. I really needed that. 😉

Samantha
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Try #7 | Wednesday Night Concert

Sometimes I get wrapped up feeling like I am not where I’m supposed to be. I am 3o years old – shouldn’t I have this and this and this by now? I know somewhere along the line I was given a road map, a road map with the most common path, the path most taken and I know that somewhere along the line I veered completely off that path. I’m four-wheeling through a cornfield – I have no idea where I’m going or what is coming up next. Yes, I’m getting older, but part of getting older is realizing that there is no perfect path. Just because my life is not a mirror of my parents’ or my friends’ or other people my age- doesn’t mean it is wrong. In fact, the path I’m on has allowed me to meet people I never would have met if I had kept to the paved roads… and it’s these serendipitous friends, as I’ve gotten to know them, that have taught me that every single life is different. There is no perfect way that leads to more happiness or more success. Everyone’s path winds differently.

And because my path wound around some bends I never saw coming, I find blessings I never knew were meant for me either. A lot of them are in disguise and I have to choose to see them as gifts and not setbacks, but some are easier identified, like being able to go out on a Wednesday night, listen to a band I know, laugh with my friends, dance until my feet hurt, and come crashing back into bed at 2am, only to be awake five hours later, dressed and out the door for work. This is a chosen blessing, and it is temporary, but its who I am now and who I’ll remember when I get older.

Samantha