The other day, I discovered that you can make hot chocolate with coffee instead of hot water. I feel that this is hands-down the most exciting discovery I have made in 21 years on this planet. I could be exaggerating, but don’t let the simplicity of it fool you! I think its magical.
My new found obsession with cocoa-coffee is pretty representative of my summer experience. The excitement threshold in my life right now is so low that even a hot beverage is enough to send me over the edge. I mean, I literally told my boss about how delicious it was. Then I told my sister, I told my mom, I even tweeted about it. It was the highlight of my week.
The things that I look forward to on any given day are incredibly mundane - but I go CRAZY for them, to the point that I am distracted at my job because I am thinking about drinking hot chocolate and coffee. I’m in a strange place. Other new things I’ve discovered and take inordinate amounts of joy from: eating dinner at Whole Foods and people watching (why haven’t people told me about the hot food bar there?!) or tuning in to NPR on Saturday so I can hear Car Talk (really is that something I’m going to get excited about? YES). That’s where my life is at right now. I’m am consciously and continually noting these things in my inner monologue that I have also decided to title How to Be Alone: My Summer in Portland. (Do we not all title our inner monologues? No?)
Okay that sounds depressing, but it’s not. It’s funny, I promise. The reality is that I have spent the entire summer interacting with a very small circle of people: my sister and her boyfriend, the dogs, my coworkers, and two friends who happen to live in Portland. I don’t think I’ve spent more than three hours with someone my own age in the last month. The fact that I made one entirely new friend of my own volition is almost unbelievable (but still true!) I know, I’m a real extrovert.
But overall, what has essentially been three months of self-induced alone time has been GREAT. I am an excellent loner. Give me a city and I will be entertained for months. I can easily subsist on a diet of social interaction with strangers only. I am overly friendly to baristas and lollygag in the grocery line chatting up the check-out person. I’m just getting my socializing in. I’ve got a low quota to meet and I prefer to fill it by interacting with people I don’t know.
So, besides the newest hot cocoa revelation and relishing my solo-status, these are some other notable entries I’ve made in my mental book How to Be Alone: My Summer in Portland.
If you were to try and judge the seasons based on my legs, you would have a hard time. The tan lines from my shorts say summer, but the amount of leg hair would definitely suggest winter. When you are alone, no one is close enough to tell whether you shaved your legs. Perk!
If you go to the movies alone, you can see all the of Ryan Gosling films you want AND no one will know if you are drinking a hard cider at the 2:30 in the afternoon. In fact if you aren’t having hard cider and popcorn at your solo matinee, you are doing it WRONG.
No one has to know how many times a week you go out for coffee and pastries. There is also no one to dictate at what time of day its appropriate to have such a snack. The ideal responses to those scenarios are “seven” and “anytime,” respectively.
Listening to public radio can solve a myriad of problems. It’s like having a really intelligent person speak to you soothingly about the day’s news or share with you an engaging story they recently heard. They just always have something interesting to say! Public radio is addicting - so watch out. Fortunately, they won’t be annoyed if you’re clingy and want to hang out all the time, but you can also turn them off whenever you are like “okay, yeah, enough Kye Risdall. All this financial doom and gloom is bringing me down.” Essentially public radio is the best friend you didn’t even know you had access to.
When your only activities on a given weekend are people watching, reading the paper, and wandering around the city, sometimes the craziest thing you do all day is not wear sunscreen. You’re entire sense of what constitutes a thrilling risk gets skewed.
You realize you don’t even need your good friends around to tell you that your outfit is looking so CUTE because the gregarious transient population of Portland is ready to fill that void. They LOVE to tell you how great you are looking. Just the other day a woman said to me, “wow those red shoes set that whole outfit off, don’t they?! You know what you look like? The AMERICAN FLAG! Woooooowie!” Now was I really looking like the American flag? That’s up for debate (let the record show I was wearing light pink pants, a gray striped shirt, and some red shoes), but boy nothing makes you feel fantastic like knowing your outfit gets the stamp of approval from the woman sleeping under the overpass.
You can tell it’s been a wiiiiiiiiild summer. Just me letting loose, getting friendly with the Portland weirdies, and eating my way through the never-ending list of bakeries. Maybe this sheds some light on how well (or not well) I handled all the excitement of Vegas. And now here I am on a plane going back to school. All I can do is hope that my social skills haven’t entirely atrophied from my stint in solitary (wow that makes it sound like I was in prison, huh? Hardcore). Keep your fingers crossed for me.