Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Solo Seattle Sabbatical and Why Being Single Might Not Suck As Much As I Originally Thought

I am by myself in Portland, OR at my brother's house hanging out with some dogs. The grown-ups are at work, and I get to experience the useless amputated-from-responsibility sensation that one experiences while on vacation. I even turned off my work email, because the thing keeps dinging with new messages, and I am lucky enough to temporarily not have to care.

Incidentally, it is the middle of the afternoon, and I am still in my pajamas. In other news, I also ate half a box of White Cheddar Cheez-Its. I may even go back to bed. You can do these things when you are on vacation.

I have been thinking about what I wanted to write about with regards to my trip to Seattle, and I got completely side-tracked while trying to figure out how to upload multiple images within the text on this blog. If you are a smarty pants with Blogger and you know how to do that, you might just be kind enough to leave that info in my 'comments' section.

Needing to find out how to upload multiple photos should indicate that I had a good time on my solo trip to Seattle. Granted, I am super happy to now be on the second half of my vacation, spending it with family, live music, and wild animals, but Seattle turned out to be something special.

I am still trying to separate out if the reason Seattle was fun is because I am set on perma-happy after my cell broke and I got myself an iPhone. If I try really hard to imagine my life without this new gadget, hmmmm (I am trying to do this right now.....) Hmm, yes, I think I would still be happy about what was accomplished this week.

Yesterday I took the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Portland. The whole experience was scrumptiously marvelous, despite the fact that I was suffering from a considerable hangover. The previous night, my last night in Seattle, I was lucky enough to be invited to a big party at the Sheraton. I went as a guest of my new friend, Penny. (Remember, the woman from the bus going from the airport into the city? She liked my lime green laptop bag?)

Penny had called me right before I went up the Space Needle, and I became bubbly with anticipation realizing that I actually would have a reason to get dressed up in my one fancy outfit that I packed just in case I was invited out on a date by one of the hot fishmongers.

Penny and I had the most fabulous time at the Sheraton party. I think it was part of some insurance adjuster's conference and it was hosted by a company named Belfor. No matter, all you need to know is that there was an open bar, a dance floor with a live band, lots poker tables, and a 65-to-35 percent ratio of men to women. Penny and I made lots of friends that night and we drank dirty martinis. I danced in my stiletto heels and I have a sore knee to prove it.

In fact, my sore right knee is this constant reminder for me of all of the walking I did by myself around the city, meeting and greeting people and taking in the sights and smells. Besides the permanent memory of my blissful experience at the AT&T store where I got to talk to Eric for over an hour as he held my hand though my break-up with Verizon, I think my most classic Seattle memory will be my hours and hours spent wandering at the Pike Place Market. Specifically, the significant amount of time I spent watching the Pike Place Fish Guys.

Because I had no agenda, and because I am not a very good tourist, I had no problem latching myself to a pole and just watching the Pike Place Fish Guys for long periods of time. I did this twice, and on both occasions, they quickly started chatting with me. They are good about doing this with anyone who stops to watch or take pictures of them. Tahoe and Scott were kind enough to take my business card with my blog on it, and I learned that they too have their own Fish Guys blog called 5:12:60. I had all of my needs for fish-time fully met while at the market: I got to kiss a big fish, look at ewwwy octopus and monk fish, get my book signed by the Fish Guys, have a fish tossed back and forth over my head (monkey in the middle style) with ice shards lodged in my braids, and, most importantly, I was fortunate enough to wrap my arms around big, burly men. The Fish Guys are all super handsome and they look great in their orange rubber suspender pants. Go hang out with the fishmongers at the market, and you will feel like you have an instant group of good-looking, happy, and funny guy friends. That is all there is to say.

Another friend I met in Seattle was Ibad. I met Ibad when I was taking a picture of a sign on a store at the Westlake Center that said Snap! I wanted to take the picture for my friend, Emily, cause snap! is sort of one of her words. As I was taking the picture, a guy walks up behind me.

"So, you like the name of my store that much, huh?"

I decided that after being caught in my picture-snapping voyeur mode, I best at least visit the guy's store. As it turned out, Snap! is a custom clothing shop where you can design and create your own custom apparel. They do air brushing and vinyl as well as (get this) custom fitted grillz. Ibad showed me some pictures of grillz he had designed that were worth close to $10,000.

While I was hanging out with Ibad, I realized that his prices were so affordable that I could not pass up the opportunity to put together some type of self-promotional idea, either for my Sour Milk blog or for my Singles in the Cities radio project with Sara. Since Sara's birthday is coming up in May, I decided to have Ibad create custom Singles in the Cities black hoodies for the two of us. They have Singles in the Cities on the back and then our names on the front topped off with silver lipstick marks. When Sara and I wear these bad boys to our next FM 107.1 Lori and Julia radio show on April 24th, well will either look like hot badas#es, or we will look like leftovers from the Hale-Bopp cult. I have no problem either way.

I did several other random things by myself in Seattle, including hanging out with Kitty at Godiva, and treating myself to a three course dinner on the water for one, enjoying the company of my waiter, Efran, at Cutters Bayhouse.

The important thing to note is that the reason I had the chance to do these things and meet these people is because I was traveling alone. Traveling alone is like wearing a sign that says, "I'm a nice puppy. Adopt me?"

I got to thinking about this phenomenon yesterday on the train, and my mind suddenly wandered into unchartered thoughts about how lucky I am to have the life that I lead. I know many people who never got the chance to live alone or just be alone before getting married or before making important, irreversible life decisions.

When you live in the sometimes slim-pickins' Midwest and you are pushing 30, it is so easy to get down on yourself as a woman. I literally see it happen all the time with my friends who are not yet coupled up. Since Sara and I started Singles in the Cities, I have received multiple emails from women (friends and strangers) who have lamented about the same feelings of feeling somehow inadequate or incomplete by being single in their city.

I love it when my married friends (especially the ones with kids!) give me the riot act on how great it must be to be footloose and fancy free without responsibility. I love it especially when those messages come from people who have never truly experienced what it is like to navigate through life (and Midwest culture) as a single adult. Sure, it has been a luxury to meander through a few days by myself without anyone to answer to. Sure, I bet most moms would kill for an experience like that.

But I was certainly bummed at the onset of my Seattle trip, because I was supposed to travel with a friend who decided not to come. In the end, though, I think I have learned so much more and received such a refreshing philosophy to hold on to when I go back to my normal life next week, which is:

Being single is sometimes lonely,
but being single also kicks some as$

When you do not have the protection of another human being, you see the world for what it is. You see the world less like a crowd full of pesky strangers, and more like a vast opportunity for making new friends and seeking new experiences. Had I been with my friend on this Seattle trip, would I have laughed more? Sure. Would I have eaten more food and had more to drink? Probably. And that would have had its own place in the fun category, too.

But when I gave it my all and made the best of being an extravert while traveling all by myself, at the end of the day, I think I have ended up developing some much overdo gratitude for my fortunate life, and I am going to stop being such an effing whiner all the time. Promise.

Satisfactorily Single,


  1. I can add multiple pictures to a blog. I guess this means I'm smarter than you. FINALLY!! I knew it was just a matter of time.

  2. Oh Susan! I got chills and teared up a little reading this one. I can not express in words how happy I am for you and this trip. Welcome back to your serenity and clarity my friend, you deserve them and they are both yours again. I love you.

    P.S. Since I have to post this as anonymous because I don't have a fancy blog account. I will leave you with this. OH SNAP!

  3. your phone number still the same?


  4. we miss you on the homefront! love, SITCs

    Love, bean bag