The girl who goes alone

Izzy is always late. I probably shouldn’t generalize from only two data points but somehow I’m sure this is the case. It’s funny though, she’s so charming that you love her for it. Her lateness, arriving trailing a scarf off one shoulder and declaring that she got lost again, it’s all part of her charm. Izzy is from Australia and she’s traveling around the US in what appears to be a completely haphazard fashion. From LA to Portland to Austin to New York, there’s neither rhyme nor reason as far as I can tell. But this too is just so Izzy. She marches around as she pleases with a smile that can’t help but spread.

I can’t remember if she messaged me or if I messaged her, but we found each other on couch surfing and agreed to meet for a beer at The Commons Brewery. She comes flying in with only a half hour till closing and introduces herself. She orders what I’m drinking, a farmhouse ale worth writing home about. She’s twenty-three and fairly fresh out of acting school. She’s been saving up for ages to go on this trip. Her ‘mum’ spent months trying to talk her out of it. We commiserate on being a girl traveling alone and how often we’re told not to, told it’s not safe, that we should stay home or travel with buddy. Girls should be chaperoned. This is the unspoken message. I’ve had this fight many times with my own mother. When I told my mother I was traveling alone she managed to be so circumspect that I wanted to send her a fruit basket or something. Congratulations. You’re finally learning to stop telling me to live my life the way you’ve lived yours. I think my mother is risk-averse, to the point where I sometimes think she is just afraid of life. Afraid of the inevitable unknown that is the future. The only way you can make the future knowable is to keep it the same as the present. If you do the same thing and stay in the same place you can know what’s coming for you. Any change is a leap of faith really.

But in my perspective it is so goddamn worth it to take that leap. The best experiences of my life came from launching myself out of my comfort zone. Two years ago I decided to get up in front of a room full of strangers and tell a personal story at a storytelling event. I was so nervous  I could barely breathe. I completely spaced out halfway through and there’s this terrible long pause where it’s obvious I’ve completely lost my train of thought. But I did it and afterwards I was elated. It made me realize that I didn’t just want to scribble in notebooks anymore and then stack them in a closet. I wanted to share my thoughts with others and get feedback and improve. I wanted to get better at sharing my stories so that someday someone might read them and feel the way I feel when I read a good blog, or hear a great podcast. There’s something about stories, isn’t there? They have a power that I don’t understand. All I know is that they can change the way I see the world. They can shine light on me when I think I’m in unreachable darkness. Stories can take you places.

I took that leap of faith and started sharing my stories, such as they are. And I tell you, nothing has made me as happy as writing these little bits and pieces has. I’m grateful that I was given that push that made me take the risk. So I’m here, at this bar with Izzy. We’re taking this new risk together. I think she would agree that we’re both better for it.

Izzy left me with a gift and, as the best gifts always are, this one can’t be bought. She gifted me two phrases from her dad. Apparently he told her after she left for her trip that “after you left I had a bit of a blub darling.” I was so delighted with this turn of phrase that I had to pull out my notebook and write it down. Seeing my delight she gave me a second one. He once told her “well I felt just like a pork chop in a synagog.” I think I have been waiting my whole life to hear this phrase. I feel like this all the time and now I have the perfect simile for it.

Sometimes if you want to grow you have to be willing to feel like a pork chop in a synagog.



P.S. Here’s a cute cat I saw in Portland:

suburban cat

This guy offered to get cat hair all over my yoga pants while I’m away from my cat Sprout, who is usually in charge of that


Title credit: The girl who goes alone by Elizabeth Austen