Today, my friend told me a story about how her friend’s girlfriend became angry with him after he told her a friend’s engagement story and how he thought it was completely overdone. She found the gesture romantic and was upset that he thought it was excessive, and he had no idea why she would be so mad. I don’t know her, but I can say the reason she was angry was she thought her own boyfriend would probably never do something as grandiose for her. When a man proposes, that is his way of declaring to the woman (and the world) that this is how much he loves her. This story will be shared on the wedding website, retold again and again to family/friends, and possibly even for generations to come. And life is all a competition, so if a man really loves a woman, he wants to win, right?
Being a friend is hard work. No, I’m not that group of “friends” you see just so that you can do group activities like bowling because in those cases, “the more the merrier.” I’m talking about real friends – the ones when you ask how they are doing, you actually want to stick around and listen to the response. It’s taken me many years, and sadly, even watching Sex and the City episodes and observing Miranda, to realize that your friends don’t always want to hear what you think or what your suggestions are. This is pretty hard for me considering I’m an opinionated person. Your intentions might be completely out of love, but they are not always received in that way. Sometimes, they just want you to smile, nod, and listen.
I didn’t start traveling regularly until after I graduated from college and began supporting myself. The furthest trip distance-wise I took with family was down to San Diego. I wasn’t one of those kids who split her time between China and the U.S., nor was I the child who took round-the-world trips regularly and thought that to be a norm. Because my domestic and world travel began much later, it makes me even more grateful for the experiences I am gaining now – as an adult who hasn’t always had these opportunities her whole life. Every time I take a trip now, I get excited for the lead-up and constantly research, am ecstatic while I am away, and when I return home, I get antsy for the next trip and the next. I never want it to end and just want more.
I used to chase status on United because I thought having “status” just sounded elite. However now, I do not think “status” on United matters because despite my Silver status, they have never failed to disappoint me. Priority boarding? Worthless – half of the entire plane seems to board in Group 1. The hope of an upgrade? You wish. Today, one of the worst possible things could have been said to me by a United worker at check-in in Seattle. She disputed why I didn’t pay for my check-in luggage, and as I explained to her that one checked bag was free not only because of my status but my credit card, she stares dumbly at me and says, “How do you know you have status?” This statement is reason enough to quit flying on this incompetent airline.
Today, we visited Pike Place Market. The last time I had visited this famous market was in 2004. At that point, I had only visited two states outside of California and had never even left the country. Since then, I have visited 23 additional states, 12 countries, and lived in two other states. I have finished college, studied a foreign language abroad, and learned that Chinese food is more than just Cantonese cuisine. Between then and now, my perception of Pike’s market has changed. Then, it was enthralling, intense with its energy, chaos, and people in an inviting way. Now, it’s still intense, but overly touristy, crowded, and… expensive. I’ve come back with more knowledge of the world outside of the West Coast, and thus greater perspective on what the world has to offer. It’s amazing how your view of the same exact place can change over time as you get older and (hopefully) more mature.
Just about 40 minutes outside of Portland is the stunning Columbia River Gorge, land of infinite nature and endless waterfalls. As we did our hikes through the erratic rain and sunshine mix, I thought about how many amazing natural sights there are in the United States alone and how most of us will never in our lifetime have the chance to see even half of them. Some, like Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains, have national recognition, but others like the Theodore Roosevelt or the Columbia River Gorge will pretty much be unknown to the average person unless they seek them out. It makes me even more aware of how incredible life is and how valuable these moments experiencing newness are.
Rain is miserable, and there is nothing fun about it. I am no longer that 4-year-old girl who got so excited when there were huge puddles that I could stomp into when my mother wasn’t looking. Now, the only time I find rain enjoyable is when it is accompanied by thunder and lightning, and I am indoors and warm under my covers. So you can imagine my disgust when we reached Portland and it was raining on and off — sometimes hard, sometimes just drizzle. Yesterday, we even went hiking in the rain by the Pacific coast. Beautiful sights and smells? Certainly. Wet socks and clothes? Please, not again.
While we enjoy the warmth and friendliness of Portlandians, Chris does not seem to enjoy the constant ritual of being carded when ordering alcohol. In our first two days in Portland, everyone and their mother seems to want to check our IDs to make sure we are of age. It’s done in a very matter-of-fact manner, as though it’s just part of the job and nothing else. It can certainly take some getting used to, since the last time I remember getting carded, it was 2011 in Boston, where the city is known for being excessively puritanical. In New York, neither of us ever gets carded. I guess Portland bartenders are just good law-abiding citizens despite being hippy and leftist.
One thing that I can say for sure after living in New York for about five years is that pretty much everywhere else I go in the country, everyone always seems a lot warmer and friendlier. We arrived in Portland this afternoon, and while driving through the streets of downtown, Chris kept exclaiming how nice people were; even pedestrians give right-of-way to drivers and wave them on, and when drivers make mistakes like we did, other cars don’t honk their horns. While near Powell’s City of Books, he bumped into someone on the sidewalk, and that person he bumped into apologized to him!
Tonight, we saw the play Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, in which five women who are chosen as bridesmaids come together (reluctantly) to support their friend on her Big Day. As each bridesmaid’s story is unveiled, we realize that none of them genuinely “knows” the bride anymore, and all have been chosen just for the sake of having bridesmaids to fill in the duties. The more I hear about weddings, the bigger the wedding parties seem to get – five, seven, ten, even fourteen bridesmaids! It seems that women today just want more bridesmaids to fulfill their picturesque view of what their wedding should look like rather than choosing bridesmaids based genuinely on how close she is to each.