Chats With My Bestie About Life and Dreams and Stuff

My main squeeze of the non-romantic variety and I occupied our table at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse last Friday from the tail end of “early” Happy Hour to the beginning of “late night” Happy Hour. This, my friends, is the way to do HH if at all possible.

(By the way, I’m not sure if “Happy Hour” is supposed to be capitalized like it’s some kind of national holiday, but as far as I’m concerned, it should be. So I’m going with it.)

It takes fortitude, but mostly, it takes one of your people. The kind of person who knows all of your stories, but still finds them hilarious, because she lived 90% of them with you, or at least knows all the people they involve. The one who, in a span of a Friday night dinner service, can cover such topics as: babies and babymaking, ex-boyfriends, suicide, Beth Moore, wedding planning (well, groom selection), “what if I die”, and others. This particular Friday evening, over half-priced champagne and ahi tuna, we talked dreams.

I told her how in my heart of heart of hearts, I would love to be a writer. Then I paused and mused, “I suppose I should update my blog more frequently than every 4-6 weeks, then.”

Without hesitation, that bestie of mine replied, ever so sagely, “Well…yeah.”

And I laughed out loud, because I love her, and her honesty. I love having friends in my life who will not sugarcoat my flaws and shortcomings. She refused to sit across that bar table and bemoan my lack of literary success with me, as though I’d done something to deserve it. Too often, people tell us what we want to hear. Friends will tell us what we need to hear, even if it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t flatter us.

I’m thankful for my friend. I’m thankful that she doesn’t kiss my ass but holds my hand. She doesn’t believe I’m owed anything, least of all success, but she believes I can get there. She believes in ME.

I’m thankful, and so lucky.

(And, just so she knows, I believe in her too.)

To my Happy Hour muse, you know who you are, thank you. For last Friday, and many more to come.

-Jess

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Weekend Vacation.

Because I could not possibly draft a post and actually post it on the same day (I’m not a miracle-worker!) the following was actually written last Tuesday, after an educational weekend in Portland, OR:

I have long-equated relaxation with doing nothing. I’ve believed that little to no movement and lots of TV and food is the antidote to my stress and anxiety.

And I’ve tried it. I’ve told myself, “You are TIRED! You work hard! You don’t need to read or write or spend time with friends. You need to sit down, put your feet up, and just zone out for a while.” So I do. And then a few hours later, I feel all caught up on my shows and my calories, but not a tiny bit rested.

And certainly not all that stress-free.

I’ve been so anti-busy for quite some time now. Whenever our calendar starts to fill up, I bellyache to my husband about how we never schedule REST, and how important it is that we REST.

But then we have weekends like this one.

We scooted out of work as soon as we could on Friday afternoon, bound for Portland. We took the long way around to avoid the traffic, engaging occasionally in the kind of bickering that only relatively seasoned married folk can get themselves into. A year ago, our difference of navigational opinions would have resulted in a good three hours of the silent treatment. This time, it was a mere ten minutes before he reached his hand over to mine and said, “I’m sorry.” In a momentous stride forward, I took it .

“I’m sorry too.”

So on we drove, by Mount Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams…the jewels of the Cascades appearing clearer than usual. The sun was shining brilliantly on the Rose City when we crossed into Oregon and found three-hour street parking in front of our hotel. The traffic detour had put us about an hour behind schedule, so instead of showering, shaving, and appearing impossibly fresh and lovely for our PDX date night, I threw on a dress and another layer of makeup. Good enough, I thought.

As we ate, and then took a rather lengthy expedition for oddly- flavored ice cream at Salt and Straw, famous for such delightful concoctions as Olive Oil and Pear Blue Cheese, I bemoaned our early morning plans and how we’d managed to overbook ourselves, AGAIN. My sweet and patient man looked me in the eye and said, “Babe, seeing our friends we love is not a chore. You will have fun.”

The same patient man comforted me a few minutes later, as I surveyed the line around the block at my long-awaited ice cream stop. I pouted like a two-year-old but settled for gelato and Modern Family reruns back at the hotel.

The rest of our weekend was so….balanced. We had breakfast (not the finest culinary experience I’ve had in Portland. Or anywhere else, for that matter, but that’s neither here nor there) and a hike with friends. Which was stunning, by the way. We napped at the hotel for a bit before dinner, hardcore ping pong, and late-night conversation with some of our dearest people. Sunday, we SLEPT IN, and then met the same dear people for a yummy lunch, and the strangely delicious Olive Oil ice cream I’d long lusted over.

We were out and about and BUSY all weekend. We didn’t get home until (gasp) SIX-THIRTY PM. But truly, driving home next to my person, feet on the dash, I felt like I’d been gone for a week. I felt my soul lifted and repaired in ways I didn’t know it needed to be fixed. I got up early, stayed up late, and then slept in. I laughed out loud with the love of my life and some of the loves of our life together. I ate some delicious (and less delicious) food without worrying if it was gluten-free.

(It was not.)

I think sometimes I/we get caught up in what we think living life and getting rest looks like: Working full-time and then some, getting and staying in shape, saving money and saving time, while camping on the couch to “recuperate” from it all. I’m immensely grateful for thirty-six hours that reminded me what living life SHOULD look like: Eating what sounds good and not feeling bad about it, once in a while. Spending money and spending time on the people you love. Going lots of places but not being in a hurry to get anywhere, least of all back home to the couch.

I believe that work, mindful eating and exercising, and saving time and money all have their place.

Sprawling out on the couch and binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy has its place too. And despite the mysterious stomach bug I picked up over the course of the weekend that kept me home doing just that today, I am thankful to have spent a couple of days being the best kind of busy.