I love the farmers market, almost as much as french cheese or a hike in the Rocky Mountains.
Going solo is not quite as bad as sitting alone at a drive-in movie. I approach the market like one might an art museum, each booth is a new display, complete with built in artist eager to explain their masterpiece.
There is nothing more energizing than for a conversationist (strength finder: woo) like myself to approach each booth with gusto and animately engage the bee keeper/farmer/wino etc in how-they-do-it tête-à-tête.
But here is the truth, the Farmers Market is a unique situation, its very purpose being to share food, conversation and hopefully a monetary exchange. I feel well loved because I am eating delicious bread, spread with a cream cheese salmon dip, and they feel well loved because of the new green bills on the table.
So what do you do when reality is not as inviting as the farmers market?
Last summer I wallowed in self-pity. No friends, no community, just me and my childhood bedroom.
Enjoying the place I seemed to be planted was not an option, I just did not want to get comfortable...
And this May, I moved to the city I had dreamed about last year. Starting all over, living in my Aunt and Uncles house, basking in the radiance of a cloudy afternoon in Portland.
And yet still, I catch my sneaky little thoughts painting a picture of the next adventure.
So what do I do about it?
I have decided to start treating my time in Oregon as an extended vacation.
(Not in the sense of being lazy and sipping Sonic drinks by the pools my rain water in the backyard) But..
...reminding myself to enjoy today.
To eat lots of summer berries.
To praise my uncle for his smoothie making skills.
To take pictures of every delicious meal we eat together, aunt, uncle, cousins, friends, new friends, or maybe just by myself.
Vacation, much like the farmers market, develops an expectancy that every minute will have a purpose, to rest, to explore, to eat, to laugh.
Both venues engulf you in new and exciting sounds and experiences. Set up to please and entertain--
It is not the event or the location which draws me in, but the expectation.
I want my life to be lived with eagerness for every new food, each hour of work, anticipation in the relationships I build on daily.
Recently, I invited over a friend and was introduced to hernew boyfriend who had apparently heard so much about me. I listened to him goon about his Kansas farm, and then interrupt himself with…
“…of course, I’venever traveled to Europe or anything…”
I was caught off guard by his apologies and humbledownplaying of farm life. But I said nothing,
Because I knew my travels involved more tears and swearwords than photographs.
June 20th, 2011
“@*%$ *&%$, What am I doing here?”
I think that was the basic sentiment.
I can still picture myself slumped in an orange, plasticbooth at MacDonald’s, fresh off the plane –clutching a damaged pen with inkspilling onto my skin, I had scribbled curses onto pages of my fresh journal.
Six months previously I had decided to buy a plane ticketand travel through Europe after college graduation. This is almost a cliché,but one with which I was proud to be labeled.
Excitement flooded me in the months leading up to my trip.
I filmed myself packing items into the large blue backpack,one month before I left. (Just to practice you know… )
I created a cash envelope budget,
got a fresh hair cut,
informed anyone who would listen and some who wouldn’t,
And even doodled sketches of planes flying over the Atlanticonto my final exams.
I played out the adventure in my head long before I crossedthe ocean, and then suddenly, the day had arrived. I rode the sky tram thoughDFW airport, thinking it’s not to late to go home, to be safe and comfortable.
Swollen butterflies, beating light wings in my stomach as mypassport was stamped, attempted to guide me back to the safety of the terminal,but I grabbed a metaphorical fly swatter and beat them back.
Nothing would keep me from this experience, especiallymyself.
I think the best moments of the whole month were when I knewfood and friends would be denominators and not unknowns.
If the darkest moments could pile up like books, stackedwith spines facing out, each would read:
It’s always easier to recount the good parts of my travels,to talk about French cheese and how friendly the Dutch are, but what I rarelytalk about is the fear,
the insecurity which seemed to be an Eeyore style cloud,hovering wherever I went.
A fact that made it very difficult to even approach the farmhouse selling hand crafted cheese, or the plague of anxiety which coerced meinto corners with books, rather than introduce myself to others in a bar.
No matter how many years separate me from June 5th,2011—the worst travel day in history—I will never forget the lumpy blob caughtin my throat, ready to send a stream of blubbering tears with any sidewaysglance or missing of train.
of all of the fear and apprehension solo-Europe gifted tome, I would not hand it back.
There is no regret.
The insecurities in my life, the vanity, the masks I wear,would not have been so clear had I traveled with a friend.
Not to say I wouldn’t have learned lessons aboutrelationships etc.
But a month with myself and my thoughts, my decisions atevery corner, brought me to the conclusion that
story has much lessto do with the location than it does with the experience.
People make experience,
when I met up with an old friend in Prague, secret stores ofenergy exploded into my countenance and confidence with something as simple asasking for directions.
Standing on a bus for two hours became a mishap to laughabout, rather than cry.
If I had not traveled alone, I would never have realized howmuch I love to travel with people.
Even if traveling simply means the retelling of a story.
So sitting on a couch in Fort Worth Texas, listening to anew acquaintance recount tales of cow tipping and bad crops, as he gushed warmlyover my old friend is an experience I would never trade.
A few years ago, I sat in Rosa's Cafe with one of the girls I mentored.
We sat tearing apart tortillas and dipping then in honey.
She passionately told me a story about her step-mom giving away all of her clothes.
She continually repeated the phrase "they were mine, my clothes."
I didn't have much to say.
Why was she so upset?
Is there great injustice in losing our possessions?
To her, the clothes were an identity, a wrapping of self-worth.
She was left with little. Not literally naked.
But it got me thinking...
There is a scene in the movie Babble where the daughter is standing naked on the balcony and her father steps out and wraps his protective, loving arms around her as she sobs.
We have to shed everything, all of our selves, our worldview and preexisting reservations if Christ will come and give us something new.
Yesterday I went to a coffee shop and quickly introduced myself to the attractive male barista working the counter. "Jackpot" was my initial thought, I had finally zeroed in on a place that could make a london fog, provide adequate seating, and ample flirting opportunities.
It took about five minutes to have the life story out of coffee guy--and as he answered the well poised questions...
...my thoughts whirred happily, and from a millisecond of conversation, I began to consider the possibilities of dates and conversation for which I seemed to be starving.
After all, I mused, finding a guy who shares my relative age, my unmarried/unattached-ness, my proximity, AND my faith?
Anything but possible.
The next thought in my head: "Maybe he doesn't believe in God, does it matter?" << (gasp) >>
Seeing as I am quite unaware of my own identity, compromising who the church tells me I am shouldn't be to difficult.
No one likes to be told who they are, especially when they don't know themselves.
This string of quick firing assessments led me to conclude I would not base any summer romance on spiritual status. Let whatever happens be-- no guilt, no conviction.
Funny thing, I know how this story goes. I know the warnings and comments to pair with such 'rebellious' conclusions.
I was driving home from church on Sunday and Siri sent me to a dead end; It's much easier to blame her than my terrible sense of direction.
I was driving down random country roads, surrounded by sheep and vineyards-- really a terrible place to be lost. There was no way to continue on the road I had committed to, so I cautiously turned my Aunts car around and mosied back to my starting point.
As I passed emerald carpeted farms, I had a sudden thought nugget which needed to be preserved. So being a responsible driver, I told Siri to make a note:
"Loneliness forces us to face ourselves."
She heard "Loneliness forces us to Facebook."
I suppose Siri knows what's best, or at least what is most likely the truth.
My first week in Portland, I attended Door of Hope, and the pastor Josh White stated "the only thing which consoles us in our misery is distraction."
Deep thought about the reality of our lives is heavily avoided.
Distraction comes in many forms: turning up the volume, watching thirty hours of Mad Men, maybe seeking the comfort of male affection --or perhaps scrolling through the scrapbook of friends lives via Facebook.
"For my soul has wandered so long seeking me-- give me grace to rise and follow thee."