Most weekends, I’m glued to my couch. I don’t blame it all on my mood. Work is stressful. I’m an introvert and I have to spend eight hours a day around people - always on, always performing the most glittery, sociable version of myself. It’s exhausting. So I often tell myself that spending all day on the couch is not just well-deserved, but necessary.
This past weekend was an ideal couch weekend for me. I traveled to Omaha the last two Saturdays for work. Don't get me wrong, it’s nice to sleep in a king sized bed with cable and a company credit card, but it’s not relaxing. I missed my couch so much those two Saturdays. I missed the glow of my TV, my cat in my lap, Bath & Body Works candle burning away. All day long.
But I surrendered my day of doing absolutely nothing in an attempt to hold myself accountable to my goals and - just maybe - be a good friend and like, a normal functioning member of society.
It was worth it.
On Satuday, my Lyft driver and I got lost trying to outsmart her GPS. “Do you like living here?” she asked. This keeps coming up. “No,” I said. She agreed. She’s lived here for thirty years. The winters are hard, she said. But as we worked our way through Irvington toward Killingsworth, we were both struck by the sun in the sky and the pink flowers bursting from the trees, scattered on sidewalks and in the street. Even when it rains and the petals get crushed into the pavement, there’s something beautiful about it.
I met my friend for brunch somewhere new to me - a place way west on Killingsworth, hardly a thing below it but the interstate. Hannah chose it because she saw it on a list of Portland businesses owned by women. I admire that so much about her. She just made some big changes to her life and she's so happy; she's so brave. We sat in the window and ate biscuits and butter lettuce and I felt the harshness of my week leave me.
Later that night, I emerged from hours of pacing and pep talks to join some friends for a birthday party at a karaoke bar. Even on the way there, I considered flaking. Going out, for better or for worse, is less fun now that I drink less. But by the end of the night I was mostly sober, belting out a well-choreographed “Fergalicious” while people I’ve known for years and years danced along with me.
It’s easy for me to understand things from the outside looking in. As I write about my day on Saturday, a day packed full of much more social activity than I ever seek out or desire, it seems so easy. I feel silly remembering that I felt so anxious about it.
I’m a processor. It takes me hours, days, months to understand things to their full extent. It takes me forever to untangle the nuances of every interaction. It takes me forever to investigate just what people meant when they said that one weird thing. I spend an eternity trying to figure out something someone said to me in passing, something they never think about again.
When I got home from the karaoke bar, I didn’t think. I fell into bed and slept. I woke up the next morning and I felt refreshed. I wasn’t spinning from remembering how awkward I acted, or how self-absorbed I can be in conversations. I didn’t feel guilty or embarrassed about the way I behaved. I felt fine. I felt relaxed. I felt at peace with myself and everything I experienced the day before.
On Monday, I felt confident. I give the sun a lot of credit for my boosted mood, but I’d like to take some, too. I worked hard this weekend. Not on anything necessarily tangible - just on myself. I took time to myself. I made time for other people. I cleaned my living room. Looking back on it, I feel like shaking my pre-karaoke-Saturday-night-self and shouting THIS WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER!
There’s nothing to process - I can do this. I can be myself and be with other people, and be kind to myself and be kind to other people and it’s okay! It’s really okay!!
The funeral home I walk by every morning and every evening to and from work is coming down. Just today they removed the big ornate windows on the top story. There’s front-end loaders packed in the parking lot. The trees are cut down. And they put a fence around the whole thing, enveloping even the sidewalks. The route I take every morning and every evening doesn’t exist anymore.
As a result, I’m forced to see things differently; to figure out a different route; to see new sidewalks, strange overgrown gardens and unfamiliar front porches.
I guess it was time for something new.
This weekend, I felt something shift inside me. I refuse, as is usual, to see my outgoing, social self as a one-off. I’m a woman who can feel confident in myself, in the presence I bring, in my humor and in my company.
I needed to see things differently. I needed to take a step back and watch myself succeed in the places where I constantly feel that I fail. Now maybe I can stop waiting to see my life from the outside. Maybe now I can believe that I’m capable of participating, not just observing.
A change in perspective can change everything. It’s the difference between looking up when you walk, or looking down. I’m looking up.