Archive for December, 2010

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What I have Learned This Past Year

December 31, 2010

My coworker Becky recently showed me a poem. It begins with, “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” Throughout my life I have cautioned myself not to fly too close to the sun. Not to get too greedy. But as the poem notes, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” You have to risk crashing back to the earth in order to fly. This past year has been filled moments of exhilarating joy and painful crashes. But I know there were moments when I was flying.

This past year started with fireworks, literally. As rain sprinkled down, I stood blocks away from the Space Needle as fireworks announced the new year. Soon I would find myself in a martini bar, then in a town car, then falling asleep on a designer couch owned by someone who I had never met. Good morning 2010.

Over the summer, I found myself at my 10-year high school reunion. One of those seminal occasions that I was actually excited to take part in. When I arrived at the bar, my homecoming date stood outside like a ghost smoking a cigarette. Thunder crashed through the warm July air and lightning cracked the night sky.

I always that thought that high school reunions were to see how much other people had changed. To see your classmates’ new husbands, wives, children, weight gains, balding heads, and gray hairs. But I was wrong. My high school reunion showed me how much I had changed. How did I go from an awkward, band-dork, loud-mouthed, banquet server, T-Bird driving, suburb living, fluffy headed, soda loving, 18-year-old to a slightly less-awkward, European-board game playing, crude-loud-mouthed, diabetes fundraiser, Honda driving, city living, hair-product applied, coffee and wine loving 28-year old? A classmate wrote in my senior yearbook that I was loud, bossy, and annoying. Perhaps I haven’t changed at all.

This past year much of my blog writing (most of my writing) was done for the Seattle PI Capitol Hill blog.  I started the year with more universal themes – the decline of the neighborhood video and book stores, the evolving coffee shop landscape, and falling in love with your neighborhood barista.  As the year marched on, my writing turned more personal.  I wrote about not being home for the holidays, first dates, and wrote about an evening with an heiress.  For me, writing is both a chore and a renewing experience.  And I hope that in 2011, my posts continue to garner comments like, “This guy just sounds like a pretentious hipster jerk.”  I will give him pretentious and jerk, but I am most definitely not a hipster.

As I write this annual reflection, memories from this past year flash before my mind. Fun times from shirtless hugs with strangers when the Sounders score to glasses of wine in the alley. A seven-course meal prepared by Paul and I and watching the sunrise from Ballard. Early morning World Cup games and Frisbee in Portland. Dive bars and fancy cocktails. Miss Seattle and John Roderick.  A Seattle staycation and an aimless drive north on Highway 99 from Vancouver. Birthday lasagna and joy filled evenings at the warehouse. And everyday I try to find happiness in both the mundane and grand moments.

The doldrums of winter were made a little more tolerable by a girl named Hillary. She was an early morning riser and would wrap a towel around the coffee grinder as to not wake me. She loved baking bread and pie and often called me a dangerous distraction from her studies. And for reasons I still don’t understand today, she didn’t see a future with me. She mailed back my LOST DVDs and my canvas tote bag after we broke up. On a sunny Saturday morning, she dropped me off at my apartment, kissed me, and it was the last time I ever saw her again. I had to defriend her from Facebook.

Many of you have told me over the years, that your favorite part of this annual reflection (my thirteenth) is the dating section, so for your enjoyment, here are a few more dating tales. There was the nurse who had her urban chickens (Princess Laya and Henrietta) eaten by raccoons and before our date, she biked up from Tacoma and checked into a hotel. Even though she was cold, hungry, and rain soaked, it went pretty well. There was the program officer who I had wine with in April and in October would be a speaker at a conference I planned — it was a little awkward when she walked up to me at Registration and said, “Hi Nick,” and I didn’t remember who she was. There was the girl who grew up off the grid in Montana (her parents still don’t have flush toilets) and went to North Korea for a vacation. Oh, and the private school teacher who I kissed on our first date and at the beginning of our second, she received a phone call that her close friend had passed away – she started to cry, apologized, and left the bar.

I tend to become very melancholy in the dead of winter. With these short, cold, rainy days, it is easy to forget the summer BBQs, the spring flowers, the hot uncomfortable nights in my second floor Capitol Hill apartment. I forget about our backpacking trip to the coast, the chicken salad in the park, and sparkling wine outside on the deck. I forget how the leaves rustle when the summer breeze blows. I forget about skee ball at the Zoo Tavern and day trips to Portland. I forget about all the insecurities I felt. I forget how the heavens looked when we sat around the campfire watching shooting stars.

Two final stories from this past year and I will end this reflection – I promise (and I apologize to those who have already heard these ad nauseum).

A few weeks ago I found myself walking to my car whistling Oklahoma, from the musical Oklahoma. When this girl gets out of her Toyota SUV and looks right at me. I smile. She smiles. I walk into Rite Aid and she follows me in. As I’m settling up, I decide that I am going to ask her out. I scrawl, in what must have looked like kidnapper font, on a business card, “Hey, you smiled at me, if you are single give me a call.” I leave my card in her car door and walk away thinking that this was most certainly one of the stupidest things I have ever done.

It turns out when she got to her car she thought my card was an advertisement, so she carelessly tossed it in her car. Later, she went on a date and her date was in her car when he found my card and asked her, “What’s this?” A day or so later, she calls her friend, and tells her to bring her laptop to the bar. She wants to look me up. She finds out that I am not a creeper, and Facebooks me.

She writes, “Took me a minute to find the note you left on my car window (I think above the QFC? I was doing a lot of errands that day)– then I lost it in Portland, but luckily remembered your name so looked you up on here. So anyway– sure! Let’s meet up if you want– why not?”

We have gone on a few dates and they have been good. And whatever happens with business-card-girl, I know that I was flying.

Finally, one day Becky and I were on our way to a luncheon. Driving in my Honda I kept smelling something that could only be described as urine (because as I would later find out, it was). The smell was hauntingly faint and subtle. A whiff you might find in a city alley. At a stop light I leaned over and smelled Becky’s shoulder, much to her protest. It wasn’t her. I took off my dress shirt, it wasn’t that. Then my under shirt. Not that. We continued on to the conference center and the smell followed me. It wasn’t in my car, it was on me! After the lunch, I was desperate to discover the source of the smell. And finally, I smell the leg of pants, where the cat had been sleeping the night before. I almost vomited. After a truly great 2010, sometimes the pinnacle of success (and memorable moment) is simply discovering where the cat pissed on you. I hope that your 2011 is filled with exhilarating joy and not cat pee.

Remember to live life to the fullest, dream, wonder, and explore because, you never know. To everyone, Happy New Year!

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A First Kiss… of Sorts

December 22, 2010

Generally, I am a great kisser. Over the years, I have received many compliments on my kissing abilities – garnering points on style, technique, and timing. But as I wrote in my last blog post, I have never been the type of person who kisses on the cheek. And in fact, when a woman leans in to kiss me on the cheek I have generally panicked, and didn’t know what to do. My actions (or rather inaction) around kissing on the cheek has made the experience awkward for both parties. And I try to avoid it at all costs.

But the other night, I had a few glasses of wine at our holiday reception at the Rainier Club. After the reception, I headed down to SoDo to go to Full Pull Wines to pick up a delivery. I was wearing a full suit and a dark maroon tie. The warehouse was full of friends and acquaintances. We loaded the wine into my car and Paul started to close down for the evening. My friends gathered their coats and started to leave.

At that moment, I grasped my friend Elizabeth’s left shoulder with my right hand. With my eyes, I honed onto her right cheek. And I leaned in and I kissed it. The whole exchange took mere seconds. I felt as if a sea of pressure had been lifted from me. I successfully kissed someone on the cheek. And it felt natural and not weird.

I will always remember that cold December night when I had my first kiss with Gretchen. But now, I will always remember my first “kiss on the cheek.” Elizabeth, thanks for being my first.