Becoming Your Own Best Friend
I love how beautiful Portland get’s when it’s nice out. I love the way the sun shine entices Oregonians out of our holes, makes us rub our eyes and come out of hibernation. We whine and complain all year-long for this weather and once it appears, it’s like we’ve become reborn. Of course we’re still physically the same people but, suddenly, I’m no longer the only one smiling. When the majority of your year is covered in overcast and rain, you really learn to appreciate when the sun finally does decide to make an appearance.
I grew up in Los Angeles, which unless your from a country without TV or the Internet, is in California. I grew up in a single parent house hold and lived next door to my hippy, “peace, love and pot smoking”, grandparents my entire life. My house was built by my great grandpa who was an infamous rodeo cowboy. I had my whole world in this tiny protected little nook of Westwood. And I loved it. I knew their were kids who had it better than me and their were children who had it worse. I knew there were other lifestyles different from my own, not only in this city, but scattered all across country. But I couldn’t imagine a better world beyond the one I lived in and I never ever wanted to trade places.
When I got old enough, I was never afraid to just leave my house and go off and do something. I never had a shortage of things to do. Everything was in walking distance or a bus hop away. I could walk two blocks to my elementary school to play or reminisce. I would just start walking and spend hours exploring every inch of my neighborhood border’s until I hit a major street like Wilshire Blvd. I would walk up Wilshire to Westwood Blvd and to the left I could go to the Pet Store, 7-11, see a movie at CREST or spend countless hours in a nook inside of Boarder’s bookstore. I could even pop in to say hello to Maryilyn Monroe’s grave. To the right was Westwood Village, UCLA, countless movie theater’s, music stores and odd over priced stores like Ahh’s. Sometimes I made the long trek to the Westwood Rex which was a park and community center. And if I was in the mood, I could hop a bus that went to Santa Monica and either go to Third Street Promenade or the Beach.
The point is, I wasn’t afraid to do things alone. I did them all the time by myself. And when I did do something with someone, it was usually just with my best friend Leah and sometimes Rori. I was alone, but I found a way to keep myself company. I found a way to be my own friend. I’m not saying this was the greatest of ideas as I probably should have been pushed to make more friends than spending so much time in my own little world. I probably should have been pushed the older I got to join more activities, to expand my ‘social network’. But at the same time, learning to be your own friend is a trait that I think is highly over looked.
After I moved to Portland, you could say I was slighty agoraphobic as I hated leaving my house. And while I was in still in high school my life consisted of school and home. With each neighborhood I moved to, I got to know the area a little bit, but not much further than the boarder’s of my neighborhood. By 2006 I had pretty much stopped trying to explore my neighborhoods. I learned enough to get by but I had barely gotten to know Portland. I didn’t do anything fun or touristy or make much of an effort to really try to get to know the city. I liked it, and I liked the people in it, but I didn’t let Portland become apart of me.
I did this because I was pretty much afraid. I was afraid of people seeing me. I was ashamed of how fat I was and too afraid to explore anything on my own. My mother didn’t have time for me and I didn’t have anyone besides Tony to talk to. So when Tony took the three-hour bus ride on Greyhound from Seattle, I always wanted to go out and do things. But we never did. We talked about them but all we ever did was going to a mall, watch a movie, go to dinner and come home. We spent the rest of the time in my room or living room inside the house. I’m not blaming him for our lack of activity, this wasn’t even his city!
And it wasn’t mine yet either. I could feel the heart of Portland, the way you feel the bass in a stereo but I couldn’t hear the music. I couldn’t hear the music within her that brought so many people alive. The trouble was, it wasn’t like she wasn’t extending her hand out, I was the one who just wasn’t open to be receptive to see it. For a small city, Portland offer’s a hundred great things to do and a hundred great people to meet everyday if you choose to take her up on it. It was just for the most part, I didn’t want to.
During my teenage years, there are very few experiences and memories I remember having of just enjoying my city. I remember the cute guy at Coffee People who whenever I ordered hot chocolate with my friend Miss V, he would do something fun and crazy like put gummy bears, whip cream and cinnamon without even having to ask (or pay extra) for it. I remember ditching class to go down to Powell’s books and spend hours loading my arms up with more books than my arms could carry. I remember sitting on a bench waiting for the 51 bus in front of what used to be known as PG&E Park and a woman walking up to me just to give me a flower for no reason.
Those are the moments that made me fall in love with Portland. Because I knew for a city, she is beautiful. Those are the moments I am constantly trying to recapture. Do you hold your breath as you go into a tunnel? Do you get butterflies in your stomach as you try to both concentrate on your wish and trying to ignore the uncomfortable sensation of not breathing? Do you try to hold on and make yourself hold out for just for a little longer. Then just when you think you can’t make it, you emerge from the darkness and into a light do you let out a silly sigh of relief? To me, that is Portland moments in a nutshell. She fills me with butterflies of excitement and I try to hold onto them for as long as I can till I’m about to explode.
What I don’t understand, why am I so afraid? This city accepts me, I fit in and I love it. I just don’t go exploring by myself anymore. I get afraid or I talk myself out of doing things I want to do. I talk myself into finishing a blog entry (which by the way was on the to-do list) instead of jumping cannonball style into a pool on the gorgeous first day of summer. I talk myself into staying in and playing video games instead of running errands because I don’t want to go by myself. There are afternoons where I want to just go downtown and photograph parts of Portland simply because I want to see the city through her eyes. But I don’t because I’m scared of how silly I will look to other people as a fat chick taking random pictures.
I get caught up in my own inadequacies and fears of being alone these days. What used to make me feel so secure, like in Los Angeles, no longer has that same effect. While I am finally learning to not only make new friends in Portland, but to start making plans to go out with those people, I seem to have forgotten how to be my own friend. I get too caught up with how I look to stranger’s. And the only defense I have to that is when I am out and about having a good time with somebody else. It’s like that extra person unintentionally acts like a shield barrier to where it’s easier to block everybody else.
So now that I have called myself out on the issue, I have no more excuses. I don’t want to be alone but I also don’t want to be afraid or simply just say I don’t feel like doing something because I don’t want to be by myself. Because what is so bad about being in my own company? Is it because when I have no one to try to charm and make smile, I get lost in my own thoughts. I think it’s time to start making my own memories, ones just for me. Ones like where I did in Los Angeles, hidden in a nook with a book at Boarder’s. That girl is still somewhere inside me, I just have to find her.