January 29, 2004

Today I took a look around at my life and realized there are a number of Portlanders who I like a whole lot.

I remember sitting on the floor of our house with Julie, the boxes still stacked high in the living room and the furniture all puzzled up. We were eating pizza and talking about how we missed dorm life, the frequency with which we saw friends, the way the door was always opening and closing. Though we wouldn’t admit it to ourselves then, we were afraid of feeling lonely. We were afraid that we wouldn’t meet anyone new. We were afraid of quiet lives.

In college, friends are made in a moment. We hugged people we didn’t know yet, friends of friends were drawn right in, and our neighbors were automatically our confidants. Outside of the university gates, however, communities take a little bit longer to build, friendships take a while longer to grow.

And now, while I can say that my next-door-neighbor Toad is not my best friend, I like it when we stand on our respective porches and talk about the weather. It delights me to no end to bump into friends on the street or on the bus. It feels great to have different groups of people to spend time with, and that when the phone rings, it’s always a surprise.

And in the end, I always have my friend Sam with me, who never lets me feel lonely. We went out to the movies tonight and, as we were moving up the escalator and laughing about how the ticket-taker had called Sam slick, I thought again how lucky I am to have such a good friend by my side, hour by hour and day by day.

He even likes me when I’m bonkers.

Speaking of being bonkers, I have been so fearful recently – fearful of cars, fearful of the news, fearful of the weather, fearful of my health, fearful of flying, fearful of losing loved ones, fearful of going crazy, fearful of not having control, fearful of my heart stopping... The worst is when I am scared and can’t even figure out why.

And what bugs me is that most of my life has been fearless. Fear snuck up on me. It doesn’t feel like the skin I should be wearing. It is not the way I want to live my life.

So it’s good to have this community of people here. They pull me back to earth. They hug me and tell me that my heart is not just going to stop. They keep me occupied when the plane is taking off. They lie next to me when I am falling asleep. They keep me moving forward. The only person left to get into gear is me – I need to be a better friend to myself, to trust that my body knows how to keep living without my help, to overcome my senseless paranoias, to remember that there really is no use in worrying.

I recently heard that the opposite of fear is beauty. So that’s my new resolution – I am going to find something wonderful in everything that makes me scared.

I am also going to let the little kid in me have more control. After all, she was the one who once got rid of a troublesome hornets’ nest with the help of eleven sweatsuits and a football uniform… who was the first girl to jump from the very top of the tire pyramid… who liked to go into the forest when it was dark to listen to the owls call…

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