Friday, February 17, 2012

A Cleanse...of the Male Sorts

"You need a boy cleanse," states Margaret, one of my best friends.
"I need a what?" A cleanse? Like a juice cleanse? Do I give up dating for a while? What is she talking about?

We are sitting in my living room working on the final "session" for this class (mentioned in previous posts) that is supposed to help us see patterns in successes, and learn to apply them in other situations. It sounds a little cheesy, but I have learned a lot about myself. I've learned that I like order and simplicity in my life. I have have learned that I like to have new experiences to gain new perspectives on life.

During this last "session," Margaret (pseudonym) and I were choosing one tangible goal to work towards. Well, technically, we were choosing one of our listed goals and pretending that we had already achieved it. For example, my initial goal was to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life. Okay, I used the phrase "find a new career," but that doesn't have the same oomph. The point of the exercise was to spend a week pretending that you had already achieved that goal. So, for the last week I didn't bring home any work to grade. It was awesome.

Back to the point of my story. Margaret's suggestions of a "boy cleanse" caught me a little off guard. Initially, I was a little offended but quickly realized that was the result of knowing that she was right. I've written about my patterns with men before, but one I don't think I've ever mentioned, is that I hold on to hope a little too long. It's not always a hope that they'll change their minds and want to try things again, but hope that we can still have some sort of relationship. A friendship.

You may be reading this, thinking, "That chick be crazy!" Allow me to explain. When someone enters my life, I like to think it is for a reason. I strongly believe that when some people come into my life it is supposed to be for more than a two to four month stint. Please note I said "some." There have been plenty that two months, heck two dates, was all I needed. One of the "sessions" for this class required the two of us to ask people, "What do you come to me for?" Basically, what do you get out of being my friend? In considering a "boy cleanse," I have also thought about which guys I have wanted to remain a part of my life. I get something significant out of having some type of relationship with them. Just because our romantic relationship didn't work out, why is it so hard for people to understand that I want them to still be a part of my life?

Yes, it is one way in which I make my life more difficult than necessary. I feel extremely grateful to have these platonic relationships. And, while there have been a couple in which I did hold out hope for romance, I know the friendships are what were supposed to come of us meeting.

Through much thought, however, I think, okay I know, they have held me back. (Insert your "Duh" here.) If you happen to be one of these gentlemen, I am in no way saying that I want our friendships to be over. Just the opposite, in fact; I love being your friend and have worked really hard to get to this point. But there have been times when, after being friends for a while, it still turned my stomach to think of you dating another girl. This is where I get stuck and how I know Margaret is right. How do I balance keeping these friendships with moving on from the past?

Thus, the cleanse. Ideas and details are still being developed and discussed. The concept is truly still in its infancy. I am curious to see where this leads. I am feeling big changes. Good changes. This just might be the beginning of something.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Closet Space

In April, I'm going to have a roommate. I haven't lived with another human for almost 5 years. This is requiring stages of closet purging and quick updates to the house. These are all things I should have been doing along the way, but life tends to get in the way of all that. About an hour ago I found myself staring into the closet of the guest room and having a Katherine Heigl moment. I keep sweaters stored in there on those fabric shelves that hang from the rod. Extra linens and window fans share that space. The majority of the closet is consumed by dresses that were worn once, for, at most, 6 or 7 hours. The collection includes my prom dress, a couple of winter formal dresses from college, and 7 bridesmaid dresses. No, it is not 27 dresses, but still. What do I do with these?

For a long time, I figured that when I finally got married, I would have all those lovely ladies in my wedding, just like in the movie. They would get to wear the dress I wore for them, and we would have a grand time. The older I get without having found that person who will put up with me and the more obsessed I become with getting rid of stuff, the more I look at those dresses and think, "Uh, what do I do with these?" I try them on every once in a while to motivate me to take them somewhere to donate. I try to find a reason to keep them, an event or party I might be invited to someday. The truth, however, is in my reflection: Bridesmaid dresses are pretty, but they are bridesmaid dresses. From the length to color, it is usually obvious that particular dress was bought to match 3-4 other girls and a pair of shoes. Whenever I start to think that I could shorten them so they might be a bit more wearable in real life, scenes from "27 Dresses" come to mind. At least I can close my closet doors.

I wish I could say I'm not a pack rat, but I do have a difficult time getting rid of sentimental things. I look at each one of those dresses and am reminded of how much fun I had while wearing that dress, how much money I spent on it, and the fact that I got to stand up with a good friend while she promised to love and stay faithful to the man standing across from her. It makes me tear up a little bit. It makes me not want to get rid of them. I am able to justify keeping them for a little longer. Why am I such a wuss when it comes to getting rid of these things?!

Reminders of another person taking over the biggest closet in the house come to mind, and I know the dresses are taking up valuable closet space. That and good hangers! In the almost five years that I have lived in this house, I have only worn two of them an additional time. Yep, I need to get rid of them. But then, it happens. I find an empty garment bag. It is large enough for all of the dresses, minus the iridescent blue princess style prom dress. That's the solution! Whatever doesn't fit in the garment bag has to go! I didn't have that great a time at prom, anyways; that is a story for another post, another day. Consolidated in that single bag, I feel better. I feel good about my decision. I'm keeping the sparkly and puffy and just different enough colored dresses.

While I don't know if I'll ever have a special day for my friends to wear the dresses I got to wear for them, I know that they don't take up much closet space and I can look back on them and smile. Now for an event in which I get to wear them, and prove that it was a good idea to keep them...and a man wouldn't be bad either.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

We're gonna have a good day

Running has many purposes in my life. Yes, it keeps me in shape and allows me to eat whatever I want, but it does a lot more. It allows me to set ridiculous goals, that with hard work, and a shift in my mental fitness, accomplish them. It provides me with a healthy sense of control. Today I found a new purpose.

This morning was beautiful. It was one of those Portland mornings that you tuck away in a special place to be brought back out on the normally cloudy, gray, and wet winter days. We call days like today three-mountain days. Saint Helens looked like it was right across the river. Incredible. The sun was shining the whole time. The wind held off. Well, it held off for most of the run. We had a huge group and were headed up and over Terwilliger for 18 miles. Leaving the Lincoln track, there was a bunch of chatter. It continued all the way through the trail of Tryon Creek and down to 43 in Lake Oswego. Then, we turned around and back up the hill.

The return trip is a bit of a different story. It's quiet except for the increased breathing because of the elevation gains. The quiet allows me to be inside my own head for a while. I've always thought of running as a form of therapy, thus explaining the inexplicable tears that appear out of nowhere during taper weeks. The last couple of weeks have been tough relationship-wise. Not that anything earth shattering happened, but there was enough activity to send me into a slump for a few days. The last few years have been difficult in relationship-land and reality in general. If you have followed this blog, you've read about it. Today was a game changer.

A last minute decision at the intersection of Barbur and Terwilliger sent us back up, into the shade and hills. As we reached a particular viewpoint that almost makes those hills worth the effort, I noticed I was tearing up. I realized that these were happy tears, and as this realization settled over me, so did a sense of acceptance. For the first time in a VERY long time, I felt satisfied with my life. I felt like if someone asked me how I was, I could actually reply with an honest, "Good," instead of the safe, "Okay." As we descended the hills and returned to town, thoughts about all areas of my life flooded my brain. Even thoughts about where my "love-life" stands and my dissatisfaction with work, felt positive. Maybe this was a result of the elusive runner's high.

Our pace began to slow as we neared the end of the run. Conversation about Boston began and, again, those happy tears reappeared. A lap around the track in order to earn the 18th beep of all three watches, a little yoga, some time at Starbucks and that feeling of acceptance was still floating around my body.

Today's run was hard. But it was a hard run that made me realize I am doing what I want in many areas of my life. I can accept the areas that I need or want to work on, and I will work on them because I want my life to keep improving. Today's run somehow allowed/encouraged my brain to finally let go of some baggage and begin to move forward. I am hopeful that this was not simply a case of a runner's high because it has not faded. Okay, maybe it has faded, but I believe that is the result of the fatigue that comes from running 18 miles of hills. I am hopeful that this is a case of learning how to deal with the hand that has been dealt to me in a positive and productive manner. More importantly, I am sure it is a case of me understanding how much I appreciate this gift we call life and all that is included in mine...even including an often ridiculous romantic portion and a dog who drives me to the edges of insanity and credit limits. Today, running gave this to me.